Infographics What are infographics Infographics are a visual representation of date information and

Infographics

What
are infographics
Infographics are a visual representation of
date information and data that are designed to demonstrate information in a
direct and concise fashion. Infographics use chart and graphics to improve
people’s cognition and they serve as a great instrument to encapsulate
knowledge and information on any given topic. Infographic have grown rapidly in
recent years and are gaining more and more popularity. With the development of
computer applications, the creation of infographics has been made available to
a great segment of the population. Social media also allows these infographics
to be spread among people from different places.
Infographics are used widely in our society. They are great for teaching and learning. They are
also a versatile tool for mass communicating. Because infographics incorporate
a lot of graphics and visualization, they require less about readers’ knowledge
background and can target all the information literacy skills. Infographics
communicate message in an engaging way and they present large amounts of data
meaningfully. More importantly they explain complex information with clarity
and briefness. We live in a world where information is created and collected
faster than any other time in our history. Sometimes processing all the
information that are available to us and filter out the valuable ones can be
very intimidating. Infographics make this process of digesting information more
endurable and less frightening.
Why
infographics
Traditionally infographics are viewed as
visual elements that enhance comprehensions of a given context. Infographics
are often more powerful than words or image along. By using abundant visual
elements of design, they provide readers with an experience of processing
information that could not be experienced. Besides having the advantage of
explaining the complex and illuminating the obscure, infographics also reveal
hidden information and trend for readers. They have the potential for readers
to discover new meaning and knowledge through the process of gathering
information. Infographics is not simply constructing visual information by
transforming from what we read to what we see. It also involves filtering key
information, constructing relationship, comparing differences and similarities
and represent them in a way that allows readers of that information build their
own valuable knowledge. Readers gain insights from this manner of information
representation and are very likely to be inspired to seek for more knowledge on
that topic.
Another significant difference between infographics
and traditional methods of information visualization (such as flowchart and
table) is that infographics incorporate art and design into representation of
information. The addition of design aspect makes them more appealing to
readers, especially when illustrating complex and tedious topics such as
understanding financial crisis or health insurance. This is also why
infographics are called the art of data visualization. As data visualization
pioneer Edward Tufte said, “Every single pixel should testify directly to
contentâ€. This is exactly what infographics provides us, a much more intimate
relationship with the viewer and how they reason about the content. Our brains
are designed in a way to recognize pattern and make snap decisions. And that is
why people gain information from infographics much faster because infographics
are designed in such a way to show patterns. But more importantly, there is the
emotional impact. According to Tufte: “We react to design, art, and to
aesthetics of a piece just as much as we react to the information contained in
it.â€Sometimes showing the information visually might be the easiest and
quickest method to involve people with that information. And these forms of
data exchange have proven to be very effective in affecting people’s opinions
and behaviors.

History
of infographics
We have been using infographics since a
long time ago. Cave paintings, date all the way back to 34,000 years ago, are probably
the early forms of infographics. Early people use them as a visual shorthand to
convey ideas and information. A big step in presentingdatastartsalmost
thousands of years ago with cartography. Back then people scraped lines and
words indicating directions onto stones, and made the first map. After
thousands of years of transformation, it ultimatelyevolvedinto one the most
widely used and appreciated data visualization, Google maps, where people are
using a visualization to actually do something. Another big step was the
development of science. Galileo used his telescope and observed things that
have never been seen before. He watched the sun for about forty days and made
beautiful drawing of the sunspots. He visualized what he saw by engraving the sunspots.
Throughout history, image and text have
always been related. Early pictograms such as the Sumerian cuneiform script and
the Egyptian hieroglyphs evolved from graphics and were later led to linguistic
writing that we use today.
During Napoleon’s Army’s Russian Campaign
in 1861, a French engineer Charles Joseph Minard made a chart that depicted
Napoleon’s army during the war. The graph along with a couple of others that he
drew during that period of time were considered to be the norm for preeminence
in representing data including flows of Napoleon’s army and merchandise
captured and lost at a given time and place. What makes this map distinct is
that it incorporates several elements into one single graph. For example,
Minard used lines with different width to show the size of army. He marked the
temperature, location and date during travel. He also used arrows of different
colors to indicate the advance and retreat.
If Minard’s chart was a prototype of
infographics, then Henry Black’s Map of London Underground was more like a
modern infographic. During the early twenties centuries, London’s underground
railway system was getting more and more complex. The designers of railroad
systems were having difficulty fitting all the railway lines into the one single
page due to the complexity of these railway lines. Henry Black, an engineer who
just lost his job took this huge task by sketching the underground system as a
circuit board. Instead of sketching the scaled railway lines, Henry Black draw
the map with lines that are vertical, horizontal or with an angle of 45 degrees.
By adjusting the spaces between stations and straighten out the railway lines,
Henry Black was able to come up with a new map that gave a condensed and uncluttered
representation of London’s complex underground railway system. Henry’s map
gained huge popularity among London dwellers and was so successful that it
became a symbol image of London. But the influence of Henry’s map went beyond
gaining popularity. Because the map is not accurate in scale, it brought the
suburbs closer to the city. And it motivated hundreds of thousands of Londoners
to get out their house to explore the suburbs. Today, Henry Black’s methods are
used world-widely and still serve as one of the greatest infographic of all
time.

Another successful example of infographic
is George Rodrick’s Weather Maps. Rodrick was one of the few people who first
utilized graphics as a crucial structure of news communication. His revolution
to weather information was the most noteworthy. He combined tables,
annotations, maps and colors into weather graphics, turning the boring weather
information into something that was relative appealing and approachable.
Rodrick’s method reshaped the ways information are presented in news and media
industry; people started copy Rodrick’s approach and added more visuals into
text.

Elements
of Infographics:
There are three key components of
infographics: visual, content and knowledge. Visual is the visualization of
information, which are usually in the form of graphics and color. Graphics and
Colors are what make infographics effective visual communication. People
receive most of their information from vision and are especially sensitive to
visual stimulation such as color and graph, thus allowing people to process
images faster than texts. This is also why a successful infographic needs to be
well-designed. Choosing the right color theme with right graphic representation
turns complex subject into an enthralling experience. Usually the visuals of an
infographics are engaging and appealing to its target audience.
However, style and aesthetics cannot rescue
failed content. “If the words aren’t truthful, the finest optically
letter-spaced typography won’t turn lies into truths. There are enormously beautiful
visualizations, but it’s as a byproduct of the truth and the goodness of the
information.†(Edward Tufte) This illustrates the how important our content
is. Before presenting the information,
we always need to dig deeply into the data ourselves, and find each key point
and create a hierarchy. Once different pieces of information start to merge and
we know what the data is all saying, the content is clear. The one key fact that everything can revolve
around is the essence of the data. There is one single piece of data or insight
that people respond to and kind of encapsulates the whole vision. And then
invite people into see the nuances and all the rest of the story around it.
(Josh Smith)
Last but not least is knowledge, which are
the final destination of infographics. All infographics are designed to
translate knowledge. So the kind of knowledge that an infographic carries with
it is the most crucial part of infographics. Infographics gives us revelation;
it shows us something that we have never seen before, either from the content
provided by infographics or enlightenment and inspiration brought by infographics.
Anyone can visualize data in excel and see some bar charts. But showing people
some pieces of the picture, let them stand back and watch it pass for a little
bit and come out of it with some deeper understanding. And that is really the
essence and beauty of infographics. Creators of infographics do not necessarily
have some masterful understanding of the system that their audience don’t.
Creators of infographics have some ideas about how these systems might be
changing and how they might be growing, and how they might be important toward
culture and society, and they want ot share some of those ideas with audience.
And maybe the audience can put together something that creators would not have
been able to put together.

Types
of Infographics:
First in the category is statistical based
infographics. This is probably the most common infographics that we see in
daily life. This type of infographics is aimed to convey complex data in a
quick and succinct fashion. Statistical based infographics used graphs, bar
charts and oval pie chart and list to encapsulate a great amount of data. They
reveal patterns according to the distribution of numbers. Like the example we
used, instead of using sentences and paragraphs to describe the relationship
between food price, population and stability of society. It uses chart and line
graphs to show us the trend and allow us to gain insights into this problem by
processing the graphics.
Second in the infographics category is
called timeline based infographics. As the name implies, such infographics are
constructed upon timelines. It usually provides a visual demonstration of a
chronological sequence of events that enable readers to grasp in a short period
of time.
Then we have the process based
infographics, which usually illustrate the process or workflow of a certain
topic. These types of infographics are often used in workspace of professional
fields such as business, technology and industries. It is also seen in
installment instructions and cooking books. Process based infographics use
images for establish an example of a certain workflow so that readers can
understand more effortlessly.
In the end we have geography based
infographics. Such infographics are made due to geographical distribution or
map. The map of London railway system by Henry Black and weather map by George
Rodrick are both geography based infographics. Usually geography based
infographics incorporate a lot of icons and symbols in their graphs. Lines
strokes with different color and width are also used convey information
Today Infographics have wide range
applications beyond media and communication industries. Infographics are also
used in science illustration, product design, business, and education. Forexample,
if we are asked how to tie a tie, it might be difficult to describe in words. However,
with infographics, this process can be illustrated easily.
How
to create infographics that help us convey information?
Before we create a successful infographic,
we need to answer one very important question: Why do we want to create such an
infographic? In other words, what is the key information that we want other
people to gain from our graphic. Once we
identify the underlying message we want our graphic to carry we can start
collect our data and organize our infographic. A key aspect of making the
infographic is that they are interesting and simplifies what is complicated.
And this required us to know our data very well and be able to refine
information and select the most effective way to represent them. If our data is
collected in chronological order, then representing our data in a time line
will probably be a better option for us. And if our data is collected from different
regions, then we probably should use geography based infographics. Organizing
information is probably the most challenging step in designing infographic.
Every pieces of information should be arranged in an effective manner. It
should contain the adequate amount of data, enough amount details and accentuations
so that audience can get the most out of reading our infographics, but not too
much to overwhelm our audience.
The next step is to add visual elements to
our infographics. And this is exactly what distinguish infographics from
conventional charts and tables. A good combination of colors, typography and
symbols can lead to very creative outputs, and can transform something boring
and tedious into something interesting and attractive. Besides variation of
color and decreasing the saturation of less significant information helps
viewers gain information more effectively.
Typography plays an important role in the process. The size of fonts,
color of text and types of fonts all contribute to the final visual effect of
our infographics. They set the tone for our infographics and help illustrate
the bound emotions of our infographics.

 

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