If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s an infographic worth?
There is no doubt that there is a LOT more information being passed around these days, via many more communication channels than ever before. Where 20 years ago companies would ‘publish’ information, working with press, PR, their staff and their company web site (if they had one) to get the message out, these days there are many more options.
Just think about how we describe the ‘publishing’ or discovering of information now:
- Send /Mail / Email
- and many more…
This change in the ways we express ourselves, communicate and share content has led to the explosion in language, to cope with this new complexity. It has led many people to feel alienated from this new sharing world, and many to feel – particularly millennials – true ownership of a new wave of digital expression and social interaction.
From photographs of ‘what is’ to infographics of ‘how things work’
The upshot of all this new complexity, data and content is a real need for explanations of the underlying systems, logic and meaning. Where just a few decades ago the simplest way of explaining the ‘unseen lives’ of our fellow man was a photograph, now we have too much information about our fellow man or woman (or at least some of them) , but not enough tools to filter it into a form that makes sense. This is where the rise and rise of the infographic comes in.
In a world where the collection of ‘big data’ is easier and easier, and the interpretation of it more and more challenging, an infographic can summarise key points, digest comparisons into icons and images that can be understood at a glance, and simply make a series of numbers more attractive and ‘sticky’ on all the networks we exist on.
For a business, an infographic has many more uses than the source data could ever have. As many social and digital platforms rely on visual content to attract visitors, it can be used and reused, shared and liked, pinned and tagged, in a way that a collection of numbers or data could never be.
How to create a successful infographic
There are no hard and fast rules, but some guidelines are worth following to make sure you get the best results:
- Primary purpose first. Make sure you know why you are doing it, and the one or two places the infographic will be most used, and ensure the formatting and style of the graphic works for them. Think about more wider sharing later
- You need enough data. OK this seems obvious, but it is more difficult to stretch a few bits of information to something interesting than a decent selection of facts and data sets you can choose from
- What about print? OK we’re mostly talking about digital here, but if you produce something regularly in print, or perhaps an equivalent (email newsletter), infographics work really well
- The right sort of data. Comparative data works best, and a decent number of data points; but also consider data that can be used with interesting images or graphics, or a shocking fact or stat as a central image
- Consistent and clear style. You must make it readable, attractive and ideally ‘on brand’ so viewers associate it with your company and it can fit in neatly to you communications style. Don’t forget to make the small details visible!
Where to find good infographics
I have included a few examples below of ones we have created, but check out some of the links below and the work of David McCandless, whose book, Information is Beautiful, is a fantastic compendium of great infographics. Other example sources for infographics include: coolinfographics.com, popchartlab, pinterest (mashable), but there are many more.
If you have any suggestions of great infographics, comments or suggestions please let us know.