Infographics: More Than What Meets The Eye
Napoleon Bonaparte was not wrong in saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Highly unlikely that he was referring to the topic in question, however, his statement holds true for what we now call “infographics”.
It’s design, it’s content, it’s image, no…it’s infographic!
Human brain is wired to catch visuals quicker than texts since, compared to texts, the brain process visuals 60000 times faster. It’s also observed that human brain digests visual information concurrently whereas it takes more time to break texts down. This would also mean that a majority of people acquire information via visuals and the rest via audio and haptic mediums. Hence it makes more than just sense to have your complex information delivered to your target audience in the most legible format.
Infographics make good use of brain’s ability to assimilate knowledge and information through the visual medium, thereby making tough-to-crack-data appealing to the less nerdy. Simply put, an infographic is a carefully composed collage of images, content, charts, stats, diagrams, animations, video etc with the sole purpose of graphically representing the information, which otherwise would run into pages if represented textually. In other words, as the word suggests, an infographic is information represented graphically.
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Infographics are used by various quarters such as educational institutions, acadamecians, businesses, newspapers, and just anybody who are serious about putting across their point in the most simplest manner. Infographics take different forms, namely venn diagram, charts, typography, timeline, map, list etc. They are not merely a design or an image or some random data, but their purpose is very explicit from every angle.
There are a host of tools for creating custom infographics. Few of them are listed below:
- Tableau Public
- Timeline JS
Infographics are being used extensively and Internet is one place where there is no dearth of infographics. “Too much spoils the flavor” is what can be said about the current scenario. An infographic is a treat to the eyes if done well, but at the same time it misses the mark if it doesn’t convey what is intended.
The whole point of an infographic is lost if the data isn’t correct or validated. People are fascinated by the attractive design and presentation but very little emphasis is given on the accuracy of the facts and figures. One reason could be the hurry in compiling the data which should take a fair amount of time with no scope for shortcuts. Make sure that your infographic is not termed as a “false” infographic.
No central theme
You can have loads of data and flashy design, but if your audience is unable to draw conclusions from your infographic, the whole effort goes down the drain. Have your data presented in such a way that your readers can derive valuable output out of the infographic? You could probably have a section towards the end that says something about what you intended or have a call-to-action instead. This would engage the readers more.
Equally important is the design. Data accuracy and attractive design are two sides of the same coin. Firstly you need to catch your readers’ attention; secondly you need to make them stay on your infographic, which is possible through the unique content and data. No matter what it takes, you need to get your design right if you want people to notice your infographic. Employ a consistent data distribution structure with straightforward mention of what you intend to convey through your infographic.
There’s no limit to how much your infographic should be simplified. Just the right mix of content, charts, graphs, images etc is all you need be careful about. The key lies in how you make others understand your concept Irrespective of the concept being simple or complex, the art is to express it in the simplest way possible. Hence the mantra is to simplify, simplify and simplify.
Impending infographic trends
Communication through visuals (pictures and images) has been prevalent since prehistoric period. This medium declined in importance as visual communication showed limitations in conveying complex human feelings, and gradually gave way to communicative languages. In the present context, infographics can be tied to the need of present complex data/information in a demanding environment, setting new trends in how the data/information is put across to the audience.
Conventional infographics, no matter how much ever they try to compress the information, to a large extent, consume a major portion of the canvas. This leads to reduced focus on the part of the audience, resulting in non-achievement of the intended. Non-static infographics essentially employ a bit of animation. Animation aids the audience in sequentially going through images or data, thus providing him/her with clear understanding of what’s being conveyed. The effect is further enhanced by interspersing audio elements in animation.
HTML5 has brought about a new dimension to visual communication. It drastically improves the audience’s ability to interact with an infographic by way of enabling the audience to customize his/her viewing experience. HTML5 plays a major role in compressing huge amount of data at specific points of an infographic and the audience decides if they want to view it. This aspect provides audience with a high degree of interactivity. And with HTML5 making inroads into mobile platforms, potential for infographics is enormous.
Access to real-time data give brands a definitive edge over its competitors. Representing it in a well defined infographic with live data feed is even more desirable paving way for quick tracking, monitoring and measuring of prevailing trends especially in the social networking space.
The infographic story is far from over. Many detractors even wrote-off infographics from the landscape, but the continuing unquenchable quest to visualize data/information in the most appropriate manner proved the detractors wrong. Moreover infographics are increasingly being considered as an artistic work of craftsmanship; that’s yet another diversification. Seems like more is in the offing.
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