You’ve seen infographics all over the web lately, haven’t you? An infographic is simply a visual representation of some data / information presented serially or in a grouping. The combination of info and design creates increased engagement from readers as they study the different components of the infographic. People are more inclined to share infographics as well.
Charts, graphs, photographs, illustrations, 3D effects, typography and lots of color are some of the visual components.
The data can be anything. Just like displaying a rock on the windowsill sets it off as much as placing a vaseful of flowers there, data gains visual interest just from being on display. That doesn’t make it any more useful, important OR true. Just more digestible.
But really, I’m a fan! Just a skeptical one. (Too many years of corporate charting to be otherwise, myself!)
Some infographics are amazingly clever or beautiful. The first time I ever saw one was in 2006 or 2007 when I ran across personal annual reports created by Nicholas Felton. The reports comprised reams of mostly trivial data that gained meaning by its collection, compilation and display. When someone categorizes the animals they’ve eaten over the previous twelve months by Legs, Wings, Fins, Shells and No Shells, it becomes way more interesting! When they are an extremely creative and talented designer, it takes on a special character and beauty.
Today, I’ve been experimenting with a free infographic service, Visual.ly. You sign up for a membership, agree to not sell the infographics you create with them (and a few other terms), and then start experimenting!
Life of a Hashtag: #Zazzle
I love the retro colors and typography of “Life of a Hashtag” so I began there. This infographic tool searches Twitter data for the hashtag you specifiy and sorts out some pre-specified data for you based on tweets over the past month. Here’s how “#Zazzle” turned out:
Not too sure I learned anything from this particular infographic, but I could see myself plugging in all sorts of hashtags and seeing where the surprises show up! If I wanted to rate my tweets higher on something like this, I’d have to actually use hashtags regularly!
BTW, I did go back to the Zazzle forums to see if I could determine what caused the little blip on September 4th. Probably the introduction of the wall decals!
Next step: to learn how to design infographics myself! Socialable had a nice post today with 16 tools to make awesome infographics, so I’ll be checking out a few more soon and you can, too!
How about you – are you a fan of infographics?