You have some data that you need to share. So you open Microsoft’s chart wizard and create a chart we have all seen a hundred times before – and if you’re feeling adventurous you perhaps change the colours or go for a 3D pie. Then you stop and think: is this chart serving its purpose? Is it really helping me make my point or highlight key data? Is my audience going to engage with this? And you think perhaps an infographic is the way forward…
Infographics have been around for a long time and are very popular. In a sense, any chart is an infographic as it is displaying information, graphically. However, in today’s design world there is a prevalence for slightly more quirky, memorable ways of presenting information.
Rather than become lost in the world of default graphs and monotonous charts, perhaps your information lends itself to a particular graphic style or iconography. Infographics are all about presenting information efficiently. Our attention spans are diminishing all the time and for most people an interesting visual warrants more engagement than a large amount of text. Before an infographic is developed however, its data should be thoroughly considered. Think to yourself: what is the purpose of this information? Often complex charts can be overwhelmed with figures, feel cramped, and become very difficult to follow – the majority of the time not all of these figures are needed. A bar chart, for instance, may simply need to show a rise or fall over time and therefore could be stripped back to its most basic form of just bars. If there are any key numbers that need to be highlighted, then a simple, clutter-free chart makes these much more prominent.
With your data stripped back to its essentials, it now becomes a creative process to decide how best to show your information. If you sell ice-creams, for example, instead of your key percentages being divided into chunks of a pie chart, they could be segments of a ninety-nine cone with a flake. If you sell ten cones for every one lollipop, then a giant cone next to ten lollies could clearly, and memorably, show the ratio. Perhaps you need to show your employees how well each flavour scoop performed this month and decide to use an ice cream parlour as the backdrop for you scoop-stack bar chart: Pistachio a single scoop, beside a heap of ten mint-choc-chips and fifteen vanillas. This may be an easy example to develop visually, but there is always creative potential with any data and it’s something that professionals like us, strive to unearth.
It is easy to dismiss a graphically considered chart as style over substance; however a well-considered infographic is both engaging and informative: charts and graphs don’t have to be boring.