Infographics explained

Posted on Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What is an infographic?  The term infographic is often used incorrectly and the visual genre is misunderstood. An infographic usually serves as an easy to digest visual representation of quantitative information using text, symbols, icons, diagrams or any visual element that assists in quickly conveying your data.

People often confuse an infographic with a poster, and sometimes a poster is more appropriate. This blog aims to explain the difference between the two main infographic genres and how to make them more engaging using motion graphics.

Infographics are designed to compress large quantities of information in to literal or abstract visuals making it manageable for the viewer to understand data.

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The infographic genre sets out to help us digest, analyse, problem solve, draw conclusions and store the information in a more fluid way than we would if we just read a series of facts from a document, chart or graph. If you only have one or two messages you probably only need a poster graphic.

 

What makes an infographic?

Let’s look at a couple of examples. The strongest form of infographic is the ‘one visual’ concept. ‘One visuals’ work well when talking about a single overarching conclusion with a series of individual facts explaining the journey to that conclusion.

This one visual infographic for GE clearly demonstrates the progression in solar technologies. If this were presented as a list or article it would be difficult to mentally encompass all of the information at once, we would have to read the facts before drawing conclusions and key data would be more difficult to isolate. Using an infographic to display the information we are able to see the bigger picture immediately, then we can focus in on specific facts for a more detailed understanding of the subject.

One visual infographics are perfect for summarising a datasheet, white paper, research or finance document, but there are some limitations and this style doesn’t work for everything.

The second more popular example uses the flow technique. The flow technique displays general facts on a subject as flowing bite size chunks of information. The viewer is taken on a journey, usually from top to bottom in a more traditional reading format, where they can pick and choose what to read. This technique works particularly well at making information easy to remember, using imagery as a technique for free recall of information.

The below graphic, created by Miramar for Quadriga, uses this flow technique to show stats and explain about hotel connectivity, it gives Quadriga a tool that lends credibility and positions them as a knowledgeable market leader.

The effectiveness of using imagery as an aid for free recall is discussed here: http://riotgrrrl.hubpages.com/hub/imageryinrecall


General Electric's 'Future of Solar' infographic taken from http://visualization.geblogs.com/visualization/solar/

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