Helping data people become better designers, storytellers, and communicators.
Get the support, inspiration, and encouragement you need to grow as a data designer.
- Learn how to take long complicated reports and turn them into things people actually want to read.
- Discover new tools that can help you create better work, faster, and share it further.
- Practice turning presentations into illustrated stories your audiences will love.
- Join a community of like minded aspiring data designers.
- Have a place where you can ask hyperspecific questions when you get stuck.
- Get 1 on 1 support from a data design professional (Chris) who wants to see you reach your full creative potential.
This academy is continuously CoDesigned.
- The world is changing way too fast (thanks internet).
- The tools I teach today are completely different from the tools I taught 5 years ago. And I’m guessing that in 5 more years we’ll have a completely new set of tools to learn.
- The way people consume information is also constantly changing.
So what does this all mean?
I first launched this academy as an online workshop in 2015 called DiY Data Design. My goal was to iteratively develop an amazing online data visualization workshop. I would consistently learn from my students and adapt the lessons and materials I taught to meet their specific challenges and needs.
And the workshop did change…constantly. Because the struggles and challenges were always changing. So were the individual expectations. My goal then, as it is now, was to continue making the workshop better.
It never stopped changing.
- DiY Data Design became Designing with Chris which then became the Information Design Academy.
- I shifted from teaching data visualization design to teaching information design, because it lets us do so much more than just create better charts and reports.
- Most of my teaching shifted live, because it’s easier for members to block off time for a webinar than to sit and do a self-paced course (even a mini-course).
- My focus has become more and more practical.
- My goal has been to make this an ideal place to learn for busy working professionals.
And then at some point I decided that this thing I was building didn’t have to become something concrete, as long as it continued to be useful.
I know that it’s working because I’ve seen academy members…
- get better jobs and promotions that they attribute directly to my training.
- steadily grow their creative confidence.
- get praise from their colleagues and clients for their developing design and communication skills.
And also because community members directly tell me it’s working.
Who should join?
- Program evaluators, researchers, data analysts, and other members of the global M&E community.
- People who are okay with a training program that adapts to their challenges and is never quite the same tomorrow as it was yesterday (but often better).
- People willing to help make the program better by sharing both their struggles and their ideas.
- People who give a sh*t about their work, enough that they want to share it with others and are willing to put in the effort to make that happen.
What the academy looks like today.
- We meet weekly for show-up-and-learn sessions. Wednesdays at 3 PM Eastern, and now also Wednesdays at 10 AM Eastern. You choose the time that works best for you.
- Everyone gets a 1 on 1 coaching call with me (Chris Lysy) once a quarter that is included as part of the membership.
- I send out a weekly newsletter with tips & inspiration just for academy members.
- There is a private circle community site where you can connect with other members, ask me questions directly, and share your work.
- There are lots of self-paced learning materials including mini courses, session recordings, and templates.
How I decide what to teach and what content to produce.
- I ask constantly what people are working on, struggling with, or interested in learning.
- When nobody shares challenges I teach what I have learned over the last two decades.
- I teach methods rooted in user experience design.
- I teach tools that come from the fields of Data Journalism (Flourish & Datawrapper) and Content Strategy (Canva).
- I share real world examples drawn from world-class organizations.
- I make time for individual member questions every single session.
Information design is lots of little things.
Learning information design is not just about learning one big thing (like charts or basic report design). It’s a lot of little things.
The thing you should learn next depends a lot on you.
Information design is more than data visualization. Sure, I’ll teach you how to design professional graphs, reports, and infographics. But if you want to make the world less overwhelming you need more than that.
You need to develop your own design process. You have to practice creating things. You need an ongoing source of inspiration. And sometimes you need direct support from someone who has actually done the things you are trying to do.
And we need to do all that in a way that’s not going to overwhelm you.
How it works.
Step 1. You join the academy.
Step 2. We meet 1 on 1 to talk about your learning goals.
I’ll send you my calendly link once you join. This is an open invitation, we’ll just meet when you have the time.
Step 3. I lead weekly live virtual show-up-and-learn sessions.
Join when you can. Each session features a quick lesson followed by Q&A and group discussion. People bring their specific design challenges and we work through them together.
If you have a big deadline coming up, I will always make time for you. That’s why I’m here week after week after week.
I also record the presentation part for all the sessions so it’s there to rewatch if you’re interested in the topic but just missed the session.
Step 4. I send out special weekly emails with inspiration and quick lessons just for members of the academy.
This way you can learn something without even having to visit our site or attend a live session. Just open your emails, read them, and occasionally do a little activity.
Step 5. Introduce yourself in our Information Design Academy Circle community.
Throughout the whole time you are a member you’ll also have access to our private Circle community where you can share your work, ask me questions, watch replays, or take one of the short self-paced courses I offer to academy members.
The learning is community-based and buffet style. Show up as little or as much as you want. And I’ll check in with you from time to time.
But what about…
I know you have your concerns but I bet I can guess a few. Here are some of the concerns your evaluation and research peers have brought up over the years.
- Worried that you don’t have the technical skills?
The tools we use in this academy are web-based and easier to use than Excel and PowerPoint. They are modern tools used by news rooms, social media communicators, and UX designers.
- Don’t have a budget for new software?
No worries, the tools I teach (and use professionally) are also FREE. They all have premium versions, but the free plans are high quality and all you need to start doing professional work.
- Can’t code?
No problem, there is no coding required.
- Really busy?
This is a low commitment academy. Join when you can, and no guilt when you can’t. I promise to make this academy as easy as possible, just show up and learn.
- Can’t afford full price?
I offer a discount (16.7% off) and a scholarship (33.4% off) for anyone who needs it. The coupon codes are available directly on the checkout page.
- Can’t make the main weekly session?
I record it all. And starting in 2023, I’ll be offering additional staggered Q&A sessions each month better timed for Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
- Already taking another data visualization course?
Neat, but that’s not a reason not to join this academy. I teach different tools and different approaches compared to the vast majority of my peers.
- Worried that your clients or organization is too “old school” for you to get value out of this academy?
I have spent a career doing innovative work inside “old school” slow moving organizations. Bringing change is always a bit difficult, but these are often the organizations that need the most help.
What’s inside again?
If you want to effectively build your information design skills you need practice, exposure, and support. You don’t need expensive tools, lots of time, or guilt.
- Show up and learn. No prep necessary, just come to sessions when you can.
- You are more creative than you know, but probably out of practice. We have to stretch those creative muscles.
- You get more out when you put more in. Ask questions. Share your work. Make requests.
- The tools exist that let us create better designs, faster. And they’re FREE.
Save 16% (that’s two months free!) with annual billing
If you need a discount or scholarship (you decide) you will find the coupon codes on the checkout page.
What participants are saying…
I’m sure these could be further improved (the project is finished so there’s no need to) but this got noticed because the standard across the organization is still the bullet point slide. The presentations with new slides got substantially more engagement (questions, comments etc.) than the old ones. It’s working.
Chris has gone the extra length to help me with an annual report and gave feedback on an article I wrote. Our weekly sessions are informative and practical and helping me moving forward in my data and design journey!
I listened to a couple of your recordings yesterday and I was saying to my partner that my investment is already paying off!
The best thing about this group is meeting other people with a similar interest in using data for quality improvement but with expertise and insight from different fields!
These are the first steps and I’m sure I will get better at information design as I practice and get feedback. However, even this was enough to get asked to teach this internally next year. After I showed a few examples to a friend from my university who also runs a small consultancy that provides services mostly to government agencies he invited me to teach this to his staff (which I’ll get paid for). I seriously didn’t expect that when I started learning how to make writing/data easier to read.
If you join the academy and within the first 30 days decide it’s not for you, send me an email saying so and you’ll get a full refund. I created this academy because I believe I can help you design like a pro. NOT to hoodwink or bamboozle. If it’s not working for you just reach out.
Just send me an email > chris @ freshspectrum.com
Who is Chris Lysy?
I am an independent information designer currently doing work for large organizations such as the CDC and Habitat for Humanity International. As a cartoonist you will find my work scattered across the web and inside prominent evaluation textbooks.
But before all of that, at the start of my career, I was just a data analyst and evaluator disillusioned by how our field was failing to keep up with the times. I hated, and still hate, when tons of work goes into an evaluation project only to end up with a restricted use dataset and a dusty shelf report.
I was in my 30s before I rediscovered my creativity. I have also worked with students of all ages in rediscovering their own. It’s never too late.
Only one thing left for you to do…