Infographics: what are they and how to use them at work and everyday life

Infographics are fast, and the text is slow. Why? In this article, we will discuss interesting facts about Infographics and Interactive infographics, how they help you, and how to create your infographic design even if you've never drawn anything before.

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Written by Alexey Solomatin, Head of Product at ThingLink
15 min read

What is an infographic

In 1911, the editor of the Time magazine Arthur Brisbane appreciated the informational significance of the pictures by the very well-known proverb “It is better to see once than hear a hundred times.” This expression is ideal as a motto for a direction such as infographics.

Infographics is a graphic way of presenting information, data, and knowledge. It helps to show complex information quickly and clearly. Infographics are the form of visual and communication design.

The range of its application is wide. Infographics are used in geography, marketing, journalism, education, statistics, technical texts, and numerous other fields. Infographics can not only organize large volumes of information but also show the relationship between objects and facts in time and space, as well as demonstrate trends. Charts and graphs, data visualization, illustrative examples — all that are connected with infographics.

Infographics began to gain popularity at the end of the 20th century, as a result of the information revolution. Nowadays, Infographics are one of the most fashionable, relevant, and easy to understand ways of presenting information to a reader. Most importantly, nothing captures the reader's attention, like infographics. It is difficult for a modern person to imagine a statement of information without using graphic means. A modern reader can’t imagine consuming a long informational text without any graphics.

Infographics can be found in books, newspapers, manuals, business reports, presentations. This tool is really widely used. Visually infographics can be presented in different forms, for example, as a caricature, a diagram, an illustration, or a logo. Any image is suitable as long as it effectively presents data and achieves specific goals.

Imagine that your goal is to teach people how to make a pizza. This can be done with the help of photographs, including the successive stages of preparation and a list of ingredients, or with a single picture. For the latter, you need to place an image of pizza and arrows with ingredients on the picture. If this picture does not require additional description and interpretation, then it can be called infographics.

This simple infographic shows how the publisher supports it's authors.

Why infographics help

The main goal of infographics is to inform. Often this tool acts as an addition to textual information, covering the topic in its entirety and containing some explanations. The style of information transfer can vary greatly. It all depends primarily on what the author pursues. What feelings does he want to arouse in those people who will observe his work? And who is the target audience for this image?

Visualization is a useful strategy. Beautiful and clear images, graphs, and charts are better perceived and remembered. Infographics help simplify business-critical processes and make information more attractive to customers and their employees. What can be visualized:

  • Advertising campaign budget
  • Annual reports of any level
  • News that you would like to tell your customers and competitors so that they wouldn’t miss it
  • Technical assignments (especially suitable for companies whose main customer segment are creators – designers, artists, copywriters)
  • Complex information that needs to be posted on the site (mission, vision, strategy)
  • Any boring information that needs to be conveyed to the client
Here, the infographic shows how the advertised product will help you take care of your car.

The development of social networks, photo archives, blogs — all this contributes to the fact that you can quickly and simply convey your information to the public. Infographics in this situation become an excellent tool that can help you distribute the information required among your audience.

Did you know?

USA Today, publishers were among the first to use a combination of graphics and text in the newspaper business. They launched their project in 1982. For several years, the newspaper entered the top five most-read editions of the country. One of the most notable innovations of USA Today has become detailed, well-drawn pictures with explanatory comments — infographics.

Readers quickly realized the advantages of this method of transmitting information — infographics conveyed a message faster than text (one well-made drawing replaced several pages of text) and more than a standard illustration (thanks to the details of the pictures and accurate comments — information graphics).

Types of infographics

Visualization of information, data visualization, information design, visual communication, visual representation — this combination of words is becoming more and more common. Increasingly, communications are built in the form of images and associations, which makes them more emotional and memorable.

Infographics are in demand and very diverse. However, there are several types of infographics, each with its characteristics and uses. Even though infographics can be applied in almost any discipline, some types of infographics can be distinguished:

  • Numbers in pictures: the most common category that allows you to make numerical data more understandable.
  • An expanded list: statistics, a timeline, a set of facts — all this can be visualized.
  • Process and perspective: it serves to visualize a complex process or provide some perspective. It may not contain any numerical data at all.

According to the presentation method, infographics is divided into the following types:

  • Static infographics: just images without animated elements.
  • Dynamic infographics: infographics with animated elements. The main subtypes of dynamic and compelling infographics are video infographics, animated images, and presentations.
In this inforgraphic, uses interactive hotspots to quickly demonstrate a number of its product categories.

There are three main types of infographics according to the type of source information:

  • Analytical infographics: graphics that are created based on analytical materials. The most commonly used is an economic infographic: analytics is carried out according to economic indicators and research.
  • News infographics: “fast” infographics, quickly created to illustrate and convey specific news.
  • Chronological infographics: infographics, the creation of which uses data about an event that recreates the dynamics in chronological order.

Infographic success components

Successful infographic maker — who is that? When creating infographics, your main task is to convey the main points quickly and briefly. Try to place a minimum amount of information in one picture. Good infographics should be large, clear, and clickable. It is worth paying special attention to design. To do this, use pointers, graphic effects, geometric shapes.

Experienced designers highlight essential important aspects that allow you to make good infographics:

  • Attractive, comprehensible theme
  • Smooth design
  • Target audience features
  • The numbers can speak for themselves
  • Internal integrity
  • Emotional colors
  • High-quality сharts
  • Scale selection
  • Simplification
  • Timeline
  • Definition of concept and goal
  • Authority and reliability of sources

Did you know?

Infographics in print newspapers began to be published more than 300 years ago. The Daily Courant, an English newspaper, published in 1702 material on the visit of the Spanish King Philip V to Cadiz Bay. The journalist supplied the material with a geographical map that displayed the meeting places of the monarch.

Interactive infographics

Recently, a new type of infographic is also developing. This is the so-called interactive infographic. The interactive infographic is a type of infographic in which the user is prompted to control the display of data and actively engage with individual elements.

The key formats of infographic communication are:

  • Static images. This is fixed information intended for reading and viewing.
  • Moving images. The fixed information that the user watches, reads, listens. The image is animated or moving. You can use videos for this format.
  • Interactive interfaces — fixed or updated information. In contrast to the two previous formats, the user can search and convert the displayed content, choosing what should be visualized. Both plot and research logic of information presentation is allowed.

Moving images, especially in combination with sound, attract people's attention more than static pictures. For example, GeaCron — a history research company, has developed the World History Atlas & Timelines Since 3000 BC map, which allows you to track changes on the political map of the world over the past 5 thousand years.

To see how the borders of states looked 100, 200 or 800 years ago, the user just needs to enter the year of interest in the search bar, after which the map will be displayed in the current format that time.

How interactivity drives reader engagement

One of the most effective ways to engage your audience is to adopt static content and make your infographic interactive. Interactive infographics will help you split data into comprehensible chunks and present information in a way that suits the interests of the audience.

Interactive infographic interfaces range from the simplest to the most complex and dynamic. This type of infographic is especially suitable for presenting a large amount of data and prompting the user to study the information actively. Through the interactive interface, you can demonstrate both hard-coded information about the situation in the form of a dashboard as well as dynamically updated data.

Interactive visualization of fixed information can be similar to a presentation or a slide show, where the user may only need to move from one slide to another. Another case may be a geographical map that shows data about a region selected by the user (for example, when you move the mouse over the region).

It is also possible to use fixed interactive visualization, which is dynamically updated when the underlying data set is updated. An example of this approach is the background cartogram of a map of the United States with indicated unemployment rates.

This simple picture encourages the reader to actively discover how long will it take to degrade different waste.

A dynamic interactive interface allows you to update both the display and the displayed information. Examples of this type of interactive infographic can be found in programs for various kinds of analytics and CRM. An excellent example of an interface is the free financial management service

Indeed interactive infographics are not possible without valuable and useful information. Keep this in mind when creating visual content.

How to create interactive infographics if you’re not a designer

How to create your own work with impactful visual elements if you’re not professional designer? How to make cool infographics, even if you don’t know how to draw? Creating a complex visual content (such as interactive maps, data visualisation, infographic template, professionally designed infographic resume, ect.) can be really easy. There are several convenient services on the Internet.

Some people think that creating infographics requires certain professional skills or an expensive graphic designer. But the truth is that this is far from the case. You don’t need a dedicated development team if you have platforms that speed up and simplify the process of creating interactive content.

Canva is a great free tool for creating non-interactive infographics online.

To create a base image, you can use a tool known as Canva. The service provides many free tools and templates for creating a base image for your infographics:

  • Templates and backgrounds.
  • Graphs and charts.
  • Different fonts.
  • Vivid pictures.
  • Photos and graphic symbols.
  • Saving a picture in png format.

The next step is to turn your infographics into an interactive experience. For that, you can use ThingLink. This is an online service that is ideal for creating interactive posters. It also allows you to create interactive videos and 360° pictures. The service will enable you to insert informational hotspots – or tags - into editable images. The tags can contain text, videos (for example, from Youtube), pictures, and links to other online resources as well as different embeds from other services.

ThingLink is a great tool for making your infographics interactive. Watch this short video to learn more!

Features of the service

  • Registration is required. You can use your social network account to sign up.
  • ThingLink's open posters may be editable by other users.
  • There are free and paid plans. A free account gives you access to all editing tools as well as limited publishing.
  • The interface is intuitive, simple, and easy to use.
  • You can share a poster on social networks or embed it into your blog or website.
  • The infographics you create will work great on all modern web browsers as well as oniOS and Android devices.

Using PowerPoint to create infographics

Creating a visual content can be simple. Few people know, but good infographics can be created using Microsoft PowerPoint.

In order to use the full potential of infographics in PowerPoint, you need to know how to use the three key elements: Text, Image, and Shape. You will use four tools to edit these three elements: Fill, Line Color, Effects, and Styles.

PowerPoint is a great tool for creating simple infographics or adding information on top of existing artwork.

For greater efficiency, infographics require a certain color scheme. It is better to use no more than four colors — too many different colors will confuse the reader. Microsoft PowerPoint provides drawings, shapes, and SmartArt objects, but don't be afraid to upload and use your own images. But let them be simple. In addition, you can create your own shapes and pictures.

You can change the fill and color of the lines by double-clicking on the shape or corresponding icon on the ribbon. If you are trying to break down ideas into different sections, change the style to track changes.

When the time comes to insert a large amount of information, select an interesting font and proceed. For best results, use three colors and one font. Do not leave a lot of empty space. It’s not in vain that they called infographics that way — if there is no

Did you know?

We perceive information through the senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. With the help of the organs of vision, a person receives about 90% of the information, about 9% with the help of the organs of hearing, and only 1% with the help of the rest of the senses. Based on the above data, we can conclude that information is best perceived visually.

What you need to keep in mind when creating an interactive infographic

Infographics are a powerful current trend that have recently entered the modern business world and are confidently entrenched in it. What are infographics in simple words? All our thoughts lead us to a very simple definition: infographics are images that convey meaning through graphics, not text.

When creating an interactive infographic, ask yourself a few questions, the answers to which will help you:

  • Do images and interactive elements help revitalize data?
  • How well does the design reflect the values and characteristics of your brand?
  • Where will the interactive graphic live? If it is hosted on your site, you might want the design to fit the overall style of the site.
  • Make sure that the idea of visualization is in the interests of your audience and the industry as a whole. Interactive Infographics for lovers of romantic adventures will have a completely different visual style than material for top managers.

How to determine whether the work in question is an infographic or not is simple enough. Remove all the text from it and see if the remaining image conveys any meaning, or is it a decorative element? If you have a meaningless image left in front of you - you are presented with a standard illustration. If the meaning remains, you are dealing with an example of infographics.

Checklist for creating an infographic

Let’s suppose you are determined to use infographics to solve your problem. But where do you start? How to make information easy to digest? How to avoid common mistakes? Below we’ll talk about what is essential to know when creating an infographic: we tried to systematize the facts and draw up a small checklist that will help you in your work.

  1. Find a topic that will be useful and interesting to your potential customers or your audience. It will not be difficult if you are really well versed in the direction that you are describing. Just interesting facts or statistics, or maybe the whole story - the choice is yours. Draw, write, imagine.
  2. After you have selected some statistics and information that you would like to display in the infographic, you need to understand what format it is most suitable for. As we’ve mentioned above, there are several types of infographics. Reread that part and choose the one that will be most suitable for your purposes.
  3. The more data you have, the better. You can not be limited to 1-2 numbers or pictures. No one wants to see unverified or untrustworthy numbers. Give more facts, more convincing, more useful visual material.
  4. The choice of designer. If you need infographics for study or your blog, you can search for a designer among freelancers, carefully analyze the experience and see the portfolio before starting work. It makes sense for large companies to contact a studio or a company that is engaged in creating infographics at a professional level. The third way is to start designing infographics yourself.
  5. The most challenging part: the “assembly" of the design. It’s better if you have an idea of what format may fit your story. The messages mustn't contradict each other, and the facts are arranged sequentially. At this stage, it is important not to rush, to consider all possible options for the "location" of the main semantic parts.
  6. So, you got the finished infographic. Check it out again! After placing the finished infographic on the site, place the distribution buttons on social networks for those who want to share it with friends.
Schneider Electric creates an interactive infographic about smart home devices’ dependency on an internet connection on their blog.

The main things about infographic you should know

It’s useful to do infographics if you have information that you are ready to share and which is difficult to perceive as text. The expression “Buy our product — it is the best!” cannot be implemented in infographics, as it does not contain any information: there are no facts, relationships, numbers, statistics.

Your task is to help the reader understand the topic better. The following recommendations will help:

  • Decide on an idea, simplify it. Then come back and simplify again.
  • Use only the most essential and exciting information. There should not be too much text.
  • Try out the tools we’ve mentioned. Canva or PowerPoint can be used to create the base image, and ThingLink will help you make your infographic truly interactive.
  • Look at the finished chart to see if your audience understands it. If not, redo it.

Infographics are a communication tool, and therefore, its use should be subject to the goals of communication: clarity, comprehensibility, and speed of perception. For example, let’s say you want to talk about the relationship between sales and store location. You can show the data in a table, but in graphical form, the same data will be perceived much faster and more clearly.

The main goal of infographics is to modernize the process of perceiving information, help in explaining difficult information in simple images, transferring data in a concise and compelling message to a person. Creating infographics consists not only in working with text, but also in font, not just collecting any data, but analyzing and processing them, and, of course, the most important thing is working with graphic images.

Infographics in eLearning & workplace training

If you have eLearning courses or workplace training, use infographics and especially interactive infographics. People will surely like to gain new knowledge with the help of interesting pictures, graphs and charts.

Infographics in eLearning & workplace training can be used for:

  • Showing the structure or operation algorithm of a complex mechanism.
  • Demonstrations of a business project.
  • Displaying the ratio of objects or facts in time and space. demonstrations of development trends.
  • To focus and motivate people to study a specific topic.
  • Infographic helps to demonstrate the relationship between parts and different objects.
  • Showing the structure of the company.
  • Infographics allows you to establish a hierarchy of subordination.
This graph is used for internal communications to provide an overview of the product updates.

Remember that infographics are a synthetic form of data organization that contains visual elements and text. The difference between infographics and other types of information visualization lies in its metaphor. This is a graph in which visual information related to specific life examples is inserted. The visualization process is the transformation of mental content into a visual image.

Infographics in Сlassroom learning

Recently, infographics have found application in education. The visualization of complex educational information, the ability to present information clearly, informatively, aesthetically attractive, is becoming a requirement of the modern educational process.

Information visualization for schoolchildren and students is one of the most important components in modern education. As we wrote at the beginning of the article, people perceive visually about 90% of all information.

The huge flow of information that falls on the student leads to perception problems. All this leads to the need to create conditions for a more complete and comfortable perception of new knowledge.

Infographics in this case are ideally suited to make information easier and more accessible. In addition, students will be able to better remember dates, events, interconnections and facts.

The image shows different stages of carbon cycle, while the hotspots provide additional information for each stage.

The introduction of infographics in the educational process brings:

  • For teacher — the presentation of material in a new, interesting, informative form.
  • For student — there is interest in a new form of learning material, the most understandable and easily digestible material, involvement in the learning process and the development of the creative component.

Infographics in classroom learning help increase the efficiency of perception of information. Infographics in the educational process makes it possible to organize interesting work in the classroom, as well as to increase the level of training of specialists not only at schools, but also at the universities.

Infographics in Marketing and Editorial

Infographics are a great tool for marketing to customers, employees, and investors. With the help of infographics, you can convey any business information to the desired audience. In this case, infographics plays the role of advertising, ensuring the availability of information.

At the same time infographics begin to turn into a PR tool: companies increasingly began to apply and send out not just press releases, but full-fledged infographics to journalists.

Infographics can be considered another marketing technique in the submission of information in order to attract customers and in the promotion of products.

This infographic shows different data for the player - while also prompting the viewer to buy a shirt.

You can use infographics for:

  • Preparation of materials for the press. The key issue of the press release is the complex process of attracting the attention of journalists who receive large amounts of such messages. Having equipped printed or electronic materials with infographics, they can be presented in the form of accessible and understandable analytics.
  • Development of commercial offers. During the presentations, the speakers' time is limited, and much needs to be said to potential investors, partners or clients. For the transmission of basic information in a concise, presentable and easy-to-read form, infographics are used.
  • Advertising. Of course, marketing technology and infographics are closely related. When only 20-30 seconds of air is allocated for a commercial, and you need to show and say the maximum, the most advanced methods are used. Infographics in an accessible, understandable and colorful form allows you to talk about all the advantages of the advertised product.
  • Interaction with customers. Suppose a sales specialist needs to tell a potential customer about the types of services, the advantages of offers, compare this data with information from competitors, etc. Infographics provide an opportunity to illustrate all the points, make them simple and understandable even to an uninformed audience.
  • Creating presentations. Today more and more business presentations, business projects are done in this format. Text presentations or presentations in pictures and photographs, as was done before, are outdated. And infographic became more and more popular.

Create your interactive infographics with ThingLink! It’s easier than you think!

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