Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge designed to present information quickly and clearly. Although infographics have been around for many years the recent proliferation of easy-to-use, free tools, have made the creation of infographics available to anyone.
What is an infographic?
According to Inforgaphics Archive the history of infographics data back to early prehistory, where humans created graphics through cave paintings and later maps. One of the earliest maps to be recorded is the map at Catalhoyuk which dates back to 7500 BCE. In 3000 BC ancient Egyptians used heiroglyphic symbols to tell stories depicting their lives, work and religion and perhaps one of the most recognisable infographic in the UK is the 1st tube map of London in 1933 showing only the lines of transit routes and stations.
In the 2000s and 2010s we now have access to web based infographic creators such as:
I’ve been experimenting with easel.ly for the last couple of months, it’s currently a beta site, but it is really easy to use and I can see the long term potential. The main downside to this site and I would imagine others is the database of graphics and visuals you have available to you. Easel.ly is limited but as a beta site this is understandable. There is the ability to upload your own graphics or images, however these are imported as a solid block image, so if you want to overlay your own graphics without a white background onto your carefully selected infographic background this can be difficult. However with a bit of creativity you can work around the limitations to produce some pretty cool inforgraphics of your own.
Before the doors closed on the organisation I previously worked for I was able to pull together three infographics of the projects I was involved with. These were not only great at demonstrating to collegeues and potential business contacts what it is that I have done over the last four years, but it provided me with a real sense of achievement when I saw four years of hard work laid out in a easily understood pictorial.
If you are interested in designing your own infographic I would definitely recommend easel.ly and here are a couple of tips to get you going:
- The Purpose; what do you want your infographic to depict? What is the point of it? And who do you envisage reading it?
- The Data; you need a good assortment of data and information to be able to present and to make it interesting. Look at your diary, your accounting, your social media, your website stats, the number of people you have worked with or met, the places you have visited… the data you choose will depend on the reason you are creating the infographic in the first place.
- The Theme; when picking your background or theme (colour scheme, background image, the graphics) think about how these relate to the data you are trying to represent graphically. If your going to depict the number of miles you’ve travelled say, then you might want to use a graphic of a car or public transport.
- It’s not always about the percentages; I will admit that I can overdose on percentages, they’re neat and tidy, but over use of a percentage can be a bit uninteresting, so try to mix it up. So if you know 25% of the people who visit your website also visit your blog then why not express it as 1 in 4 people visit your blog.
- Less is more; it can be tempting to fit in as much information as you can, but sometimes less definitely is more, especially if you are trying to get across a particular point. With the infographics I designed I started out with twice as much data as I ended up displaying.
- Get someone else to check it makes sense; because we understand our data and know what it means to us doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else will too. It’s good then to get someone who is not as closely related to the information to read it over and see if they come to the conclusions or understand your graphic the way you intended.
If you are interested in having your own infographic made for you then do get in touch with me by leaving a comment below.