Debating whether or not infographics have had their five minutes of fame is flavour of the month right now everywhere from the Guardian to the general blogosphere. Making data beautiful is close to our hearts here at Kurtosys. We’re on a mission to raise the game in client reporting for the asset management sector and we think that financial information, in particular, needs all the visual aids it can get, so, here are 4 reasons why, in the words of Mark Twain, reports of the death of the infographic are greatly exaggerated. Pictures speak louder than words The phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” was coined by Fred Barnard by in 1921. Four years later, Otto Neurath summed it up again with his now familiar phrase, “words divide, pictures unite”. Admittedly it took a few decades before infographics popped up for everything from their early supporter, Otto Neurath:
to infographics themselves,
But really, the current trend to present data visually is really nothing new, it’s just that the internet has made it much easier for Joe Public to get involved. It’s this mass involvement and the potential for quantity rather than quality to win over that has got some people saying that infographics are dead. David McCandless opened all of our eyes with his fantastic book, Information is Beautiful, but now some people even think his designs are making the information they present “too beautiful”, somehow diluting the importance of the messages within. Well, quality is important. Of course it is, but getting a message seen is still the most important thing. A poor infographic is still likely to convey more meaning than a long and drawn out written article. It would be nice if they could all be stunning examples of statistical design but the fact is, even when they’re bad, a picture is stronger than words. Infographics can focus on one, strong message Infographics allow you to convey one strong, simple message quickly. Whether you want to show the gap between rich and poor or the difference having a good pension in place will mean to retirement, an image allows you to get down to the bare bones of the issue and really focus in. Written articles tend to be longer and more wide ranging and, sometimes, that can mean the message gets lost. Infographics can be quickly digested How long would it take you to find your way around the London Underground with only written instructions of which station connected to which lines?
Diagrams, graphs and pictures can convey complex information better than long descriptions. It’s why they were invented! People are more interested in them than ever before Design gurus may be getting tired of low quality infographics but the rest of us are more interested than ever before, as shown by the growing no. of Google searches for infographic.
Source: Marcus Taylor
It’s true that infographics, like any form of statistics, can be used and abused and manipulated but it’s also try that getting people interested, telling them half a story so that they’ll want to find out more is a big part of the issue. We think infographics should stick around. What do you think? Leave us a comment and tell us whether you still love a good infographic or would prefer them consigned to the bin and if we’ve convinced you to have a go yourself, be sure to check out this infographic first. It has a few rules for making….. an infographic of course!
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