How to explain what an infographic is to your family this holiday season
So you’ve gathered with your family for a Holiday celebration. You’ve talked to your family before about your job. If your a Graphic Designer, you’ve most likely designed an infographic or at least talked about them.
If your family or friends have ever asked you what an infographic is, like mine have, they understand the basic concept…graphics. But they usually seem fuzzed and seem to end their statement with a bit of uncertainty. Or sometimes you may get the “I think I know what an infographic is, can you give me a refresher?”. There’s a good chance they may just ask you “what is an Infographic?”
I particularly get this one a lot because I’ve worked on some projects that are exclusive infographic sets and now EF Creative is decided to specializing in infographics.
The general idea
It’s in it’s truest sense “Visual Information”.
I usually like to get some ideas of the extremes going. Usually I’ll say things like this -
“Aren’t Graphics and charts boring?”
“And what about Powerpoint presentations? They can be a bit stiff and dry.”
“Infographics are less abstract that art, but also a million times more interesting than pie charts.”
It’s really key to drive home the fact that infographics are an intersection of art and science. Data and Design. Yin and Yang.
On the rise
It’s really great to see that infographics have been on the rise, because visual information is so powerful. But it’s also kind of funny that a lot of people hear the word “infographic”, but conceptually don’t know what they are.
A friend of mine brought up the fact that he had the same struggle with explaining the concept to family members.
At one point he broke it down as simply as this -
“Info” and “Graphics”, combining the two. His brother in law, soon to be Doctor was still baffled.
So it does appear that infographics warrant a little further explanation, even though the combination of words does almost perfectly encompass what an infographic is. Info and Graphics. . . infographics!
Not all infographics are created in the same way. They really can take on many forms. Let’s get into some of the classifications.
This can include all of the following:
- The narrow infographic — typically formatted to stack all of the information in one super long scroll. In this way they fit onto phones and tablets and only feed the viewer one chunk of information at a time. This seemed to be the most common format when infographics first hit the scene. But now there are many different formats.
- Poster — Just as it’s implied, this format is made with the printed poster in mind.
- Mini-infographic — These are great because they are bite sized and perfect for use on Social Media accounts, especially Instagram. These can be great lead magnets in order to get interested follows over to your website.
Then really there are all sorts of other types of infographics that you will encounter. Odd shapes, rectangular designs, “Spoke design”. And there are even interactive or animated infographics, which sometimes but don’t always fit into the Data Visualization class.
In a class all on its own, Data Visualization takes live data and plugs it into a colorful dashboard to show (usually) large numbers in really simple ways.
In this way, by being a web page, there can be live data that is plugged into the visualization. So if the data changes over time, the website will reflect this.
Also, by being a website, these will usually responsively reformat to most any screen size with ease.
This is one of my favorites, as I am always reading about supplements and health.
The visual styling can vary greatly. And when designing an infographic or data visualization, it is important to stay consistent. You wouldn’t want to write a book that alternates between the 1st person and the 3rd person, this would just confuse your reader.
Here are some of the more noticeable Visual style differences:
- Icon — So like App icons these are simple. The nice thing about icon styles is that they can really distill an idea down into a compact graphic. They also can use simple well known symbols, such as a mail symbol which most of us equate to mean “E-mail.”
- Illustration — This can be classified as more complex than an icon, but less complex than perhaps a 3D Illustration.
- 3D Illustration — 3D or 3 Quarters View will bring some variety to these angled infographics. It’s a really cool effect and can add some nice depth to an infographic in order to break up the layout of information.
- Photography — Photographs are not seen in infographics all that often, but there are some cases where it is necessary to make the information visually translate to the viewer.
There is a lot of science behind why infographics work, why visual information is so powerful and how this type of content works well on visual and non visual learners. More on that in a future article.