According to the online encyclopedia website reference.com, Information graphics (infographics) are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. Infographics can be used where a lot of complex information needs to be communicated quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. In newspapers, infographics are commonly used to show the weather, maps and site plans for newsworthy events and/or graphs for statistical data. Some books are almost entirely made up of information graphics, such as David Macaulay’s, The Way Things Work. Although they are used heavily in children’s books, they are also common in scientific literature, where they illustrate physical systems, especially ones that cannot be photographed (such as cutaway diagrams, astronomical diagrams, and images of microscopic or sub-microscopic systems).
When you were a kid, did you want to read the book with no pictures? No, of course not. Everyone appreciates a picture that compliments or helps communicate the story the words give.
Thus, infographics are important to Public Relations professionals because of this picture psychology. People tend to be more drawn to pictures than words, and it is the job of the PR professional design, or work with a graphic designer, to create something that will draw a greater audience toward their client’s page. I’ve had a lot of experience with graphic design because it is one of my many passions and something I hope to get more professionally involved with in the future. Assembling infographics are an important concept for graphic designers to understand because they, if done well, can essentially communicate information more effectively and faster than words. Readers are far more likely to read a story with lots of visual stimuli than a page with none. Graphics also can entice a person to want to further investigate the information around the graphic; thus increasing the successfulness of the information that is being advertised.
Listed below are some examples of successfully or poorly designed infographics:
The Dubai Tower graphic displayed above is great because the viewer can instantly tell that this picture was designed to give facts about the Burj Dubai. The secondary information (the scale along with the stats and facts) doesn’t overcrowd the subject but successfully compliments the main idea so that the Burj Dubai remains the main focus.
This graphic had an interesting and original concept, but it was poorly executed. At first glance, the microphone would seem to be the central theme because it is the biggest image in the visual. It takes a more in-depth look to see that the graphic is meant to display information about the length of all the past presidential speeches. Also, the large amount of information in this graphic is so crowded that the designer had to shrink the font so it could all fit in the picture– so a viewer has to either squint or enlarge the picture three times in order to read it. Lastly, the semi-circular shape of the graph makes it difficult to see the differences in scale between the smaller speeches.
This graphic has both good and bad aspects about it. Although it is in a different language, any viewer can tell right away that it is describing a space module and the aspects of its journey to another planet. It provides a visual representation of the shuttle’s transformation to a terrestrial ship as well as a scale the gives the onlookers perspective of its size in comparison to a human. Lastly, it uses bright colors and high contrast which is visually attractive. However, the bottom graph and its images are where this graphic becomes confusing. This section doesn’t visually establish what the main idea of the information is about; in other words, one would have to speak the language in order to determine what information is being communicated.
To learn more about assembling infographics, how they can be useful communication tools or beneficial to Public Relations professionals, check out Randy Krum’s blog about Cool Infographics.