A simple infographic that aids in understanding.
I easily grasp the appeal of infographics, yet I find them problematic at times. I remember examining an infographic dealing with social media not too long ago that needed a cartographer to interpret. In our current environment, where infographics are used almost as much as standard writing, it's important to question how to make them useful.
Not all infographics are built alike, but John T. Meyer at Steamfeed.com points to the obvious benefits of infographics in telling stories in a simple fashion:
Icons, illustrations, and graphics can all tell a story by synthesizing data, creating perspective, and communicating meaning at a glance. Infographics tell a compelling story that’s interesting, easy to understand, and universal.
These positives appeal to both left brained and right brain of readers, which is a definite advantage. However, simply putting images and text together is not enough to make the infographic powerful.
Problems arise at various levels with many infographics, when illustrators believe that just the act of using pictures adds power to writing. Illustrations can add to or detract from what is being said. Potential problems with infographics include:
The infographic below from Wired.com does an effective job in these areas while conveying information on how to use them effectively. It clearly highlights the division between design and content, and follows the guidelines above, striking a balance between the graphics and the information.
Notice the minimalist design: the illustrator has worked hard to make this easy to read and process through organization, balanced content, and even a bit of context at the head of the document.
Wired.com's infographic is simple, to the point, uncomplicated, and easy to process. It is visually appealing.
At their best, Meyers points to some additional details to consider:
Meyers emphasizes the need for simplicity. Clearly, infographics can be a very powerful means of communication because they engage both the left and right brain. However, as with any communication fad, we are bombarded with many that are poorly done.
When creating and using infographics always make sure to see them from the reader's point of view rather than your own. This will help you to detect flaws before you send your impresssive design out to the public.
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Before you go, give us your take on infographics. Is there something we have missed that might be added?