The Importance of Great Design In Infographics
Design is everywhere. We all see great design multiple times a day in buildings, on signs, in newspapers, in advertisement, on campuses, throughout social media, and in our homes and offices. Great design has the power to invoke our senses and open our minds. Design at its core is visual communication. Visual communication graphically represents information to efficiently and effectively convey an idea. As the world continues to grow, and new ideas, issues, and technologies are introduced, we are faced with the task of distributing a wide range of information to not only our local towns and communities, but also across the world. There are a variety of ways to communicate this information, but one the more effective tools are infographics.
Infographics combine universal symbols, illustrations, forms of visual data, and short form text to tell a story. Infographics have many purposes such as: engaging with specific audiences, educating viewers about a certain topic or issue, enacting positive changes in a community, selling a product, and promoting a brand or idea. Some infographics are created to provide information, but the majority of infographics are asking a viewer to do something. This is known as a call to action. A call to action can be a request to get involved, donate to a charity, purchase a product, change a habit or even promote a social media profile. There are no limits to a call to action. It can be anything you would like a viewer to do after viewing your infographic. Pairing short form text with images has been proven to be the most effective way to communicate information; making infographics an excellent tool for communicating complex ideas. We don’t think in a textural form. We are visual creatures. Children learn through images before they learn to read and interpret text.
There are over 10,000 images published daily under the classification of infographic. Most images released as infographics aren’t actually infographics though. They are articles that include several pictures surrounding text or text based image. These types of articles and text based images are very important and have a significant place in design, but by definition they aren’t infographics. What makes infographics unique from articles that include a lot of imagery and text based images is the heavy emphasis on design and the universal symbols and understanding. Imagery is more universally understood than text. Imagery overcomes language barriers, cultural barriers, and literacy barriers; making it the key component in infographics. Simply including several images in an article is not enough to convey a universal message.
This image shows examples of universal symbols.
Most people recognize these symbols as road and caution signs. There is no need to include text for the viewer to understand that they should take caution. Text can be added to provide more information as to what type of caution should be taken, but the text is not necessary to understand the intended message.
Now, take a look at this image.
The graphics in this image are not universal. They require text to provide context so that a viewer will understand the intended message.
The imagery and symbols included in infographics are the most important elements. This is why great design is so important. Designers are tasked with making something that is both visually pleasing, but also perfectly conveys the intended message. In infographic design, the designer has to accomplish both tasks while insuring that the imagery, layout, design, and text all work together to accomplish the goal of the infographic. Combining clear symbolism with an appealing design will provide the best results. In infographic design, esthetics work with the chosen imagery to tell the story.
In the above infographic, the designer chose an esthetically pleasing layout. The design is clean and well formatted. Without text, the viewer can assume that the infographic is demonstrating a timeline relating to the world and technology. The globe symbolizes something worldwide or global which lets the viewer know that the topic pertains to a global idea. Also, the globe is placed at the top of the infographic with implies it is a primary topic. Next the viewer sees a timeline in chronological order. This order helps the viewer progress in a logical way through the infographic and implies that something has changed over the course of time. At the bottom of the infographic, the viewer sees different technology symbols. The placement at the bottom of each box headed with the year can be used to imply the changes in technology over time. By combining imagery with good principles of design, a viewer can gain a basic understanding of the message of the infographic without reading any text.
Similarly, this infographic also works well to tell a story and give instructions without requiring the use of text.
In the final example above, the infographic is well designed, and well organized. The text in the infographic is not a requirement to understand the overall message of the infographic, but it is more necessary compared to the previous examples. While the designer chose symbols that are distinct and clearly represent coffee, if you are not familiar the idea of different types of coffee, this infographic may be confusing. Also, there are no universal symbols for various types of coffee, nor do the types of coffee exist globally.
Creating great infographics require great design skills and critical thinking. Understanding the basic principles of good design are a requirement for creating visual content that tells a story in a way that is universally understood. Because of the limitations of text, writing information to be shared beyond a certain community is challenging and in most cases ineffective. With infographics, we can sharing complex ideas and conquer obstacles never imagined.