One of the most inspirational books on the Perceptive Flow book shelf is ‘Information is Beautiful’ by David McCandless. We simply couldn’t write a blog about the power of visual content without mentioning this pioneering information designer whose mantra is: “My pet-hate is pie charts. Love pie. Hate pie-charts”. In an era where we produce vast amount of data and have access to highly capable visual design systems (or people who know how to use them), why not have some fun with your data and make the user’s interaction with it more visually enjoyable?
“Vision trumps all other senses. We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words”.
- John Medina, Brain Rules, 2008
Think back to your primary school history lessons. Whether you were learning about the Dark Ages, the Egyptians or the Aztecs, they all had ways of communicating messages using imagery and signage. Although those who created them are unlikely to have understood their impact at the time, these visual representations use a combined theory – the picture superiority effect:
“Based on research into the Picture Superiority Effect, when we read text alone, we are likely to remember only 10 percent of the information 3 days later. If that information is presented to us as text combined with a relevant image, we are likely to remember 65 percent of the information 3 days later.”
If they had written it in their dialect at the time, we would have no idea what they were trying to tell us. Visual communication is therefore one example of a highly effective channel that can be used for a business’s outward facing content marketing. We call these visual resources infographics.
For those unfamiliar with this term, an infographic is defined as:
“A visual representation of information or data, e.g. as a chart of diagram.”
This quote is taken from the Oxford Dictionary and the example sentence that accompanies it is; a good infographic is worth a thousand words. So I think I’m going to stop typing now and give you some examples of some cool infographics out there. Whether you like them or not is of course subjective and based on your personal view, but what I hope you will take away from this post is the variety of options and the power and impact of this technique. I would recommend taking a look at the visuals on the sites themselves, but please do come back to me to read the top tips!
There are several reasons why I think this example is strong. It’s an interactive experience (big tick if you’ve got the budget), it can be personalised, easily shared across social platforms and slick. Oh and it’s pretty. How much more exciting and engaging is this than a download of the survey data in a wordy PDF. That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is exponentially.
What I really like about this is that it uses collaboration with data and design to produce something better than when the two work independently. The data input was from a book called Daily Rituals. This visualisation managed to get that author lots of links to his Amazon page as well as bring his inspiring thoughts to a new audience. The creator, RJ Andrews, also got lots of exposure as the designer, but didn’t have to waste his creative juices on slaving over Excel and Wikipedia. This is remarketing in the modern world.
A bunch of academics decided to do some global research into why people take selfies, where they take selfies and their average age. The purpose of this was to understand more about the theory of this self-promotion epidemic and the associated social themes. Which is all very interesting, but the real driver is the graphic displays to identify the data plots and the exploratory features of this clever, interactive site. This example, much like the HP one, is not just about infographics it’s about two way experiences in general.
Following the age old Garbage In, Garbage Out analogy, creating an effective infographic is all about having the right inputs. An infographic should tell a story as well as add insight and be space efficient with it.
It all starts with data. We love data, but the best kind of data contains two attributes – juicy and snackable. Fear not, we’re not switching this piece out to be a restaurant review. What I mean by this is making sure that your data can be easily digested (that’s the snack part) as well as being shaped, checked and verified (that’s the juicy part).
Take a look at the Data Room that David and the team running Information is Beautiful have compiled for their infographic resources. Taking the top link, The Microbe-Scope, you will notice that there are several variables as well as information, facts, sources and amendments. This is the result:
Producing something on this scale is serious business on an expert level and isn’t realistic for a first attempt, so don’t get disheartened, the link has been included just to demonstrate scale and scope.
In parallel to this is the design of the piece. This should be mapped out in the same way that you would plan any type of art worked or creative content. There really is something for everyone and every budget with this medium, as long as you’ve got the essentials - data and a compelling story to tell.
We are visual beings, but data is always going to be a necessity when relaying information. The next time you create a visualisation for your customers, clients, colleagues or friends, if you have the choice between producing charts in Excel or Photoshop, what are you going to choose? Here at Perceptive Flow we have highly capable in-house design resources who can help bring your content to life as well as new audiences. So if you need help with making your data tell a story, get in touch.comments powered by Disqus