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Infographics: What, When and Why

by admin on June 16, 2014 , No comments

Visually appealing and compelling, infographics are used in all arenas. Browse the web and you’ll see infographics announcing new products, illustrating how-to’s and making complex political arguments. The rise of image sharing sites, including Pinterest, as well as the popularity of social media means that images are often shared without context. By including a complete concept, how-to or argument in one image, a graphic designer makes it easier to share the whole infographic than to split it up. As a result, they’re a great tool for raising awareness, both for businesses and other organisations.

What are Infographics?

Infographics are a way of displaying information using both words and pictures. They may use pie charts, bar graphs and other ways of displaying data, as well. The images are typically drawings not photos. While the data and text may come from many sources, creating a clear, concise and attractive layout requires amateur or professional graphic design skills.

The goal is to present information graphically (in pictures) in a way that is visually appealing, clear, concise and easy to understand. Moving on from bar graphs, pie charts and PowerPoint presentations, the modern infographic is typically chatty, quirky and cute, tapping into the young, web-focused Zeitgeist. That said, the form is malleable, and it’s entirely possible to design a graphic that’s formal, traditional and professional while still getting the message across.

Going Viral

Even complex infographics are usually displayed and shared as a single image. This compact format makes it easy for the information to be re-shared without losing its context. The format, combining drawings and words, makes it easy for the graphic designer to include information about the publisher, such as a copyright notice and a URL. Adding a URL makes it easy for viewers to visit the site that created the graphic, even if they see it stripped of context on Facebook or Twitter.

Candy-Coated, Bite-Size Information

With appealing line drawings or photos, friendly fonts and easy-to-digest bits of data, the best infographics are like sweets. They’re so simple to consume that many readers will skim through them without even pausing, rapidly absorbing the message inside. At their best, infographics break complex issues down, making them easy to understand, and provide reliable, accurate information.

They’re an excellent way of providing an entry into a topic, whether it’s how to use a website or service or a thorny ethical issue. Limited space makes it difficult to include either detail or nuance in an infographic and unlike plain text, it’s difficult to create hyper links within the text of an infographic. There is also a risk of oversimplifying issues. The format doesn’t encourage critical thinking or fact checking, and often presents just one side of an argument. Many use emotional techniques honed by advertisers to create a compelling argument, and some use unreliable or exaggerated data or ignore pertinent but inconvenient truths.

In the end, an infographic is a useful tool for any company with a web presence. Like any tool, it can be misused but for most organisations, the main risk is of creating a poor-quality image that languishes unshared or is mocked. Hiring a professional graphic designer to do the heavy lifting is an affordable way to avoid this.

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