The Making of Fat or Fiction: Infotography

Christina Winkless
Written 2 years ago
in Storytelling

 
Fat or Fiction is a series of data visualizations created to bring to life the often overwhelming and complicated nutritional content in food.

It showcases the content through Infotography – the relationship between Information and photography. The site is not intended to make you feel guilty about your food habits but to help you make better choices when it comes to guilty pleasures.

 
The idea for Fat or Fiction was born through our mutual love of treats. We noticed that most calorie counter websites were text-heavy and had a negative attitude towards fat content, which rather than offering alternative suggestions, just made people feel guilty. We wanted to challenge this by talking about calories in a more proactive and accessible way.

 
We wanted to create something that looks as good as it tastes; after all, looking at cakes is part of the pleasure of eating them. Our ambition was to make something that was visually striking and light-hearted that would help you choose between your favourite treats rather than limiting your options. We created infotography to explore a new way of visualising data that stands out against a vector-dominated art form.

 
We paired each food group with a chart type based upon their natural similarities in shape. This approach allowed us to use minimum postproduction, and it also makes the data easier to understand. The clean and minimal interface design keeps the infographics as the main focus, making the experience of looking at nutritional information more refreshing.

The designs were brought to life using open source frameworks such as Codeigniter and HTML5 Boilerplate. We wanted users to discover the information easily through quirky types of mouse interaction. Revealing the information piece by piece enabled the design to be minimal and simple whilst letting the user decide what to read.

To capture the user interaction, we used a vector graphics canvas library called Paperjs. This enabled us to create custom-shaped ‘hotspots’ over the photography. Using an HTML5 canvas overlay worked to our advantage in various ways, probably the most important being custom shapes. Since the Cake and Cheese chart segments are irregular hotspots, we needed to detect when a user was in a specific segment of the chart. We created a tool that allowed us to capture the points of a path around the segments, providing us with a defined area for interaction.

 
With the positive response we have received so far, it seems as if people are just as interested in infotography as we are. We therefore intend to continue working with this medium and to challenge other topics and ways of visualising data.


Christina Winkless, Anna Brooks and David Rosser are three London based creatives that met through working at Digit.

Christina Winkless is a designer with a passion for beautiful and intelligent work. Her experience lies in digital and interactive design.

Anna Brooks is a designer with a background in photography and a passion for fine art and film.

David Rosser, is a Creative Technologist. If he’s not web developing, he’s creating generative mathematical structures and forms in 2D / 3D which he writes about on his blog.