August 9, 2017
Infographics – Why they work and when they don’t
I love a good infographic, and I know I’m not alone. With over half of our brain dedicated to processing visual input we are much more likely to look at an infographic than read text. Data visualisation is by no means new – it can be traced back as far as cave paintings – however, in the last decade or so its popularity has boomed.
Infographics are now much more common in our everyday lives whether it’s in newspapers, textbooks, adverts or on the internet where they can be quickly shared through social media. However like many things, an increase in volume can often bring a drop in quality and not all of these new infographics hit the mark for purists like me.
People want to try to engage their audience visually but not everything should be turned into an infographic. It is important to consider the need for one before jumping to follow the trend.
An infographic is supposed to be something that communicates facts through images more easily than it would be to use words. But sometimes the facts speak for themselves and no imagery is going to enhance the message. This doesn’t stop people trying though and can end up with what is basically an illustration masquerading as an infographic.
Worse still is when information is misunderstood and an infographic becomes misleading – it may look great, but can be confusing and irrelevant, sacrificing legibility for appearance – I’ve pulled together a collection of some of the worst examples of infographic fails.
At a basic level infographics are objects for reasoning about quantitative information, designed to grab our attention and draw us into their stories. They educate and inform us, transcending age, knowledge levels and culture.
In a world where we can find ourselves drowning in complex data, infographics provide a powerful visual shorthand that could otherwise take pages to explain in words alone.
The messages they deliver are absorbed quickly and accurately, leaving an impression in our mind that lasts far longer than words alone. But they aren’t just lifeless facts, some infographics are so visually stunning that we are happy to purchase them as prints and decorate our homes and offices with them.
Have a look at a collection of my favourite examples of infographics as a celebration of the art form at its best, I hope you enjoy them.