The Evolution of Infographics

It could be said that the first infographics were the drawings left on the walls of caves showing the best way to hunt animals, or maps drawn by explorers to direct followers to their discoveries. Visual representations of data have been used by the human race throughout their history, but now they seem to be rapidly developing into a popular medium for communication. The idea of using a picture to display information has been around for years, so why is it that suddenly there is such a big interest in infographics?

The Brandsphere by Brian Solis and JESS3

The Brandsphere by Brian Solis and JESS3

[Infographic by  Brian Solis and JESS3]

The internet can take some of the credit for this, because it provides an easy platform for the different type of infographics that are gaining prevalence. Different people will have different opinions, but it can’t be denied that with today’s computer technology people can make beautiful looking graphics, and there is no shortage of information on the internet. Another key factor is that it is a medium of communication that has yet to be fully exploited. Possibly there is a lot of money to be made from infographics, and now it seems that the infographic is gaining in status.

The different mediums of the infographic

Newspapers and magazines have been using infographics to display information to their readers for some time now. Some journalists have said that an infographic can be just as important as giving the reader the same information in a written feature. What it boils down to is finding the best way to communicate the information to the viewer. Infographics have their roots in print, but it is the online world where you will find the latest, and maybe greatest, infographics on display now.

The word infographic is becoming predominately used for describing a static visualization of data, but it is not just this medium that is becoming more prevalent. Interactive infographics are another form that, while not as widely used, are becoming a popular way to show data. The advantage of an interactive infographic is that multiple groups of data can be shown at the same time. The only problem with interactive infographics is that they are most commonly developed using Flash. This means that currently the iPhone and iPad cannot support them, which rules out a large portion of their potential audience.

Motion graphics are another form of infographic that is being utilized to explain things to the viewer. Whether it is companies explaining the way their service works or a charity explaining their cause, motion graphics often tell a story by walking the viewer through whatever topic it is concerned with. The animation of graphics can create a compelling and engaging experience for the viewer. Sounds as well as images can be used with motion graphic, and this type of media rich experience can really help to communicate an idea.

The next stage for infographics

A new branch of the infographic medium that is set to expand in the future is real-time data visualization. This type of thing is already being used by some companies who want to see exactly what people are talking about in real-time. Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook provide a lot of information about social trends, and the visualization of this massive source of data, although daunting, could provide some really interesting results.

While infographics have some unique strengths, they have some weaknesses too. Even though infographics can show a mass of information that can be understood in a small amount of time, they lack being able to successfully show multiple interpretations of the data that is presented. Infographics are at their most effective when they concentrate on one complicated topic and make it much clearer and simpler by visualizing it. That is where the strength in infographics lie, so trying to explain different views or show a variety of analyses about a topic needs a different approach. Perhaps somebody will develop a way this can be visualized as well.

The progression of infographics is moving fast and could take a number of different directions. With the huge amounts of data now easily available from governments, think tanks, scientists, charities, and industry, there is so much information that can, and hopefully will, be visualized. It will be interesting to see what will come next in the world of infographics.

About Author

Izzy Woods is a freelance writer and graphic artist for a variety of publications on both sides of the Atlantic. Currently working for a moving company, she enjoys travel and also blogs in a personal capacity.

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