Infographics: It’s the age of Big Data; we must embrace and understand the meaning of large amounts of information and be able to easily share the story it tells: It enables management to make smarter decisions and improve business.
Infographics, or information graphics, are compact and creative graphical depictions of data and information, such that it engages and quickly conveys useful information and knowledge to viewers.
These visual representation of data typically involves analyzes of large data sets, and seeks to uncover important trends that show data meta patterns or makes single data points easily visible and extractable. The visual display of data is the most interesting and universal method to make complex information accessible to wide audiences.
According to Ross Crooks; infographics design is inherently about innovation and imagination to provide clarity, it present complex information quickly, clearly… Information graphics is an umbrella term for illustrations, charts… the images are designed to instruct people about complex information that otherwise would be difficult, if not impossible with only text. Infographics are often applied to business demographics, financial statistics, weather maps, route maps…
Infographics are tools and typical designs includes three parts; visual, content, knowledge. Also, there are three basic design provisions for effective communication, including; appeal, comprehension, retention: Appeal means the viewer-audience must be engaged-attracted by the information; Comprehension means the viewer-audience must easily understand the information; Retention means the viewer-audience must retain-remember the information presented by the infographic.
The order of importance of these provisions depends on purpose of the infographic… While visualizations can be effective alone, many infographics combine multiple representation types into one infographic– along with other features, e.g., illustrations, text…
In the article What is Infographics? by visual.ly writes: A lot of phrases get thrown around in the world of information graphics, such as; infographics, data visualization… When we use the term data visualization, we’re using it as a general term used to describe data presented in a visual way. To us, infographics are different because information graphics have flow to them: They’re data visualizations that present complex information quickly and clearly.
Think of statistics, charts, diagrams… used by marketeers, business planners… Wherever you have complex data presented in visual shorthand you’ve got infographics, and that’s important– it changes how people find and experience stories; especially now, when it’s being used to augment editorial content on the web. Infographics create a new way of seeing the world of data and helps communicate complex ideas in a clear and beautiful way…
Data visualization deals with an enormous amount of data with the goal of discovering key new patterns… Since, huge amounts of data (big data) are very difficult to sort through; infographics make information presentable-digestible to general audiences. An easy-to-read illustration helps tell a story and makes data points easier to understand; it doesn’t hurt when infographics are not only clear and straight forward but also beautiful and engaging. The aesthetic design draws viewer in; the information helps the viewer analyze and understand the data being presented. So taking into account all caveats that make up an infographic, here are the overlapping elements:
- Visualizations: Present complex information quickly and clearly.
- Visualizations: Integrate words and graphics to reveal information, patterns, trends…
- Visualizations: Easier to understand than words alone.
- Visualizations: Beautiful and engaging.
In the article Do And Don’t Of Infographic Design: Revisited by Nathan Yau writes: Remember that design isn’t just about making things pretty. It’s about making things work, and in the case of infographics, that means representing data accurately and clearly. It means letting the data speak and not putting extraneous icons all over the place to obscure what’s important– think about what you’re showing and what you really want to focus on. Once you’ve got that covered, you can bring in design elements that can evoke an emotion or portray an important image.
Bottom line: when it comes to information graphics, it should always be data and information first, and then you design around that. For that to happen, you have to learn more about data– how to work with it, where it comes from, and what it represents in the real world.
Data can be beautiful when you realize the latter and when you do you won’t have to work so hard to catch the eyes of readers; because the story behind the numbers and spreadsheets will shine through. Also, you must put in the time and think about the story you want to tell, and show some actual insight. When designing infographics, analyze and understand the data: Don’t sacrifice accuracy, clarity and ultimately an interesting story just to make something look unique…
In the article What Makes an Infographic Cool? by Kim Rees and Dino Citraro write: Infographics are popular, useful and seem to be an established part of our vernacular these days. Infographics are easy to read, quick to digest, and for the most part, can require less work to create than a more in-depth data visualization. If you want to create one then here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Add Context: One of the most important things infographics can do is add context.
- Expand Context Through Use of Metaphors: Infographics can (and should) be enhanced through the use of metaphor. By adding metaphor to data we add dimension. Through this abstraction we gain ability to provide complex information in a way that is accessible to a much wider audience than that which might be familiar with the specific subject matter. In addition, metaphors not only provide an easy vehicle for empathy and comprehension, they are also an excellent opportunity to add visual interest.
- Respect the Data: Data collectors are the historians of our time. The process of collecting it, specifically when it is done by real people, is difficult and tedious, and largely goes unnoticed. When you visualize data, you must respect what you have, and the enormous potential it represents. Even the simplest statistic deserves more than a passing thought, or an effortless grasp at the most obvious visual display that comes to mind.
- Do More-Tell the Story: When creating an infographic, the data you present must do more as a graphic than if it was presented as a number or single line of text. Adjusting the size of your text, illustrating a word found within the text, or even showing the concept embraced by a cute illustration is not enough. If you believe the data has a story to tell, then you should do your best to tell it.
- Strive for Elegance and Clarity: A natural tendency is to want to include every data point, assuming that more data will equate to more credibility. This is logical in spirit, but counterproductive in practice. Data design follows the same rules as visual design. Remove anything you can’t justify and isn’t relevant to the message you’re trying to convey. The empty spaces, the things you leave out, can provide clarity– and can also provide an opportunity to evoke questions in the viewer’s mind (that’s a good thing).
- Use Emotion: The best way to connect with people is to elicit an emotional response. No matter what the subject matter, visualizers need to have empathy for how people will feel when they reflect on the data we’re presenting: Joy, sorrow, curiosity, and other strong emotional reactions likely illustrate that you’ve chosen an important dataset and are presenting it well. In many ways, the ultimate compliment an infographic creator can receive is to know that a viewer of their work is being moved at a level that goes deeper than just an intellectual response.
- Be Authentic and Sincere: Presenting data points without consideration for what they represent shows a lack of empathy. When visualizing data, it’s essential to understand the role it plays in the larger social conversation. If it has the potential to change a person’s worldview, you need to do whatever you can to make this happen. Imagine you are actually having a conversation with the viewer. Let your design choices begin a dialog.
- Know the Difference: Data is easy to love. It represents truth and clarity, and can inspire people to grab whatever living thing is nearest to them and insist it listen. It can move a person to join a protest, to shout a slogan, or even inspire someone to make a poster. Even a digital one. When we begin to discern between graphical representations of data and actual visualizations of data, we become better data consumers and better knowledge creators.
Infographics are traditionally viewed as visual elements such as signs, charts, maps, or diagrams that aid comprehension of a given text-based content. According to Anders Ross; often more powerful than words or imagery alone, infographics utilize visual elements of design and words to convey a message in such a way that context, meaning and understanding are transcended to viewers in manners not previously experienced.
However, visual representation of information can be more than just the manner in which we are able to record; they have the potential to become the process by which we can discern new meaning and discover new knowledge… According to Colleen Corkery; never before have pictures, images… been so very important for igniting participation in social media, email, and content marketing campaigns strategies. With that, popularity of infographics has also taken the marketing world by storm… Infographics are chock full of interesting stats, actionable items and a plethora of knowledge all wrapped up in a pretty package that’s ridiculously easy to share– a marketers dream! Here are a few examples: