Infographics

For this week’s blog post, I watched I watched the documentary Journalism in the Age of Data, concerning the infographic.  An infographic (not an actual word) is a method of presenting data or information using graphics and visuals.  That is a broad definition but so are infographics.  They range in everything from an interactive bar chart to a 3D globe, charting the number of Twitter users at any given time.  It is this flexibility and potential that makes them so appealing.    Infographics are an important tool for the future of communication.

The idea of presenting information in a stimulating way using visuals is not a new concept; however, the potential has risen with the modern day tools we have available.    With computers and applications, we are able to process massive amounts of data and present them in an interesting and interactive way.  Instead of having a reader look at a series of charts, they can interact with the information.  The purpose of an effective infographic is to tell a story.  If this can successfully be done, then the information will have a bigger impact on the user.  This awesome potential also has a dark side.  As promising as infographics can be, they can also be detrimental to convey information.   If someone creates a visually stunning graphic but the information isn’t logical, then it has done more harm than good.  They would’ve been better off with a bar chart.  Infographics walk a fine line.

Another aspect of infographics is to use the information visual to show something that could only be done with that specific infographic.  If the information could be conveyed in a simple bar chart, then you are only making it more difficult for the user to digest the information.  You might have just created a beautiful waste of time.  One great way to do this is user testing.  If you can have a sample of potential users try out the infographic and give you feedback, then you drastically improve your chances of producing something significant.  Lastly, I found the idea of the Felton Report fascinating.  A designer created an infographic about his previous years through meticulous data collection.  He shows the power of an infographic because the information is compelling.  I have no idea who Felton is, but I’m thoroughly interested in his previous year.  The beauty of the infographic.

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