Distill and visualize: the value of infographics

Remember when facts and statistics were simply presented as Excel-style graphs? They were a feature to catch the reader’s eye and distill the important information jammed into articles or textbooks. In recent years, these “boring” charts have been replaced with eye-catching infographics; the combination of data with stylish graphic design to present an appealing, digestible communication format that pictorially visualizes information, without the need for heavy reading.

This market is clearly growing as a new and effective way to present information, since publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t (AnsonAlex, 2012). While there are a number of websites to create infographics, such as Canva, Piktochart, infogr.am, Venngage, to name a few of the popular choices, the graphic communications industry is serendipitously positioned to develop these graphics. Most print shops already possess talented individuals who have the expertise and tools to make custom infographics for customers without relying on or being constrained by predesigned templates or pay walls. There is also ample inspiration as galleries like those featured on graphs.net or Pinterest curate numerous infographics on various topics.

From the customer’s perspective infographics can be incredibly useful. Here are some reasons to encourage clients to incorporate infographics into their pieces:

They satiate an inherent curiosity. While a picture says a thousand words, infographics are the combination of images and information cleverly presented in a way that makes details clear and data more accessible. Infographics are memorable eye candy that maximize the consumer’s limited attention span.

They make vital information prominent and persuasive. These sophisticated graphics highlight key messages and pivotal details. Hopefully they encourage viewers to dive deeper into the accompanying content.

They can be shared. Since they are succinct and easy to consume as a stand-alone media piece, they lend themselves easily to various media channels. According to Social Media Examiner, in 2015, 71% of online marketers used visual assets, like infographics, in their social media marketing. According to Mass Planner, this type of visual content is favoured because it is liked three times more than any other visual materials available (2015).

The popularity of this medium has a lot to do with how everyone is visually wired for communication. According to Professor Mriganka Sur of MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text and 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text (Zabisco, 2014). In addition, research has shown that people remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do (Wyzowl, 2014). This justifies the popularity of infographics since CustomerMagnetism.com’s 2012 findings suggest that high-quality infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than text articles.

While placing ink on paper is a vital communication tool, the ability to design infographics that complement the customer’s content is another service in your arsenal. Because infographics tell concise, visually stimulating stories, they are a proven way for clients to reach out and engage with their end users in a media-saturated environment. The next step will be interactivity; HTML5 will help viewers interact with an infographic by adding animated features. As infographics evolve and adapt, our industry will be able to upsell the service to create and modify them for multiple media channels, either virtually or in print.