Information Is Beautiful by David McCandless

FMP: Initial Research into infographics

To start my project, I have decided to research infographics. This is because the end result will be dealing with a lot of information, some complex, and I need a way of making it engaging and understandable for the audience so they want to look at the book, and feel pleased when they do, without being bored.

From my previous design projects and the research that came with those, I have found infographics to be the best way of achieving this target. However, there are many different types of infographic, so I will assess these as well as provide some inspiring examples.


What are infographics?

As I usually do with projects, I revisit them at a more basic level to begin with to ensure there are no misunderstandings as to what something entails. Therefore I looked the word infographic up in the online Oxford Dictionary to see what it says.

infographic

A visual representation of information or data,
e.g. as a chart or diagram

So by using infographics, this will mean instead of me producing say for instance, a book, that only had written text in it for example, I will be illustrating my points, which will cut a lot of text out.

When researching into what an infographic is, I came across a couple of videos as part of a course by Tuts+ that explains it rather well.

One element I was rather surprised with, and something that shows research is always valuable, is I was not aware of how broad infographics could be. This may seem silly, but I’d always imagined them as grand pieces of visual work, such as posters like the one below, when in fact, they can be just a bar chart or basic graph, although as the above video states, that is not as effective a method.

Left vs. Right from Information Is Beautiful
Left vs. Right – Information Is Beautiful

What makes infographics a good idea?

Thinking off the top of my head, I could think of several reasons, but I wanted to ensure they were truly correct. So I thought I would search for an infographic explaining why infographics were good. As it was I found that, but even better, was that the infographic website by Neo Mam Studios is a great example of design and it also drew on academic resources, making it far more reliable.

13 Reasons Why your Brain Craves Infographics by Neo Mam Studios
thirteen reasons Why your Brain Craves Infographics by Neo Mam Studios

It’s a very impressive website that raises crucial reasons as to why infographics are better such as how the brain is visually wired and remembers visual imagery better than text. I’ve included a couple of screenshots below, but really it’s worth visiting the website by clicking on any of the related images to see how good it is.

thirteen reasons Why your Brain Craves Infographics by Neo Mam Studios
thirteen reasons Why your Brain Craves Infographics by Neo Mam Studios

thirteen reasons Why your Brain Craves Infographics by Neo Mam Studios


Making Infographics Beautiful:

One of the best websites I have come across for infographics is Information Is Beautiful, run by David McCandless. Immediately the website’s homepage stands out, due to there being a series of abstract shapes… which cleverly plays on the beautiful part instead of many infographics, which while… functional, aren’t beautiful.

Information Is Beautiful by David McCandless
Information Is Beautiful by David McCandless

By hovering over the image, you get a description, and by clicking on it you get the page with the full infographic. However, the thought provoking thing here is that instead of subconsciously choosing what to look at because of the topic, it is the dominating visuals that lead you to making a selection of what to view.


Motion Infographics:

So far, I have only looked at static infographics, with the exception of Neo Mam Studio’s parallax scrolling website. However, while researching, a fellow student was conducting her research into motion infographics for her FMP and this set of a chain of thoughts which led me to think that although I am producing printed designs as my brief dictates, I can still learn from the way motion infographics manage information, which could help to improve my designs.

I came across a very impressive example by Philipp Dettmer, looking into the highly controversial topic of fracking. I see he has does some space infographics as well, but will reserve analysing them for a later blog post, where I will analyse purely space related subjects.

What made his motion infographics so appealing was how the information was so clear and easy to understand. No more than the bare facts were included visually on screen, and lots of animations very clearly show the advantages and disadvantages. It is an extremely well-organised, clever way of informing an audience.

Fracking explained - Philipp Dettmer
Fracking explained – Philipp Dettmer

When combined with a calm and neutral voiceover, it instantly makes the stated information sound reliable, and trustworthy. I feel personally I have learnt more about fracking from this infographic than I have ever heard on the news, because of its neutrality, focus on the facts and its simplicity.

On an off-topic note, to me it sums up where news programs go wrong when presenting information to their audience by adding bias and sensationalism to make a bigger story that suits their needs.


Conclusion:

After analysing some infographics to see why they are effective, and some of the different formats they can be presented as, I feel I can now progress onto understanding the client and their audience in detail, before I further my research by analysing inspiring design from which my designs will take shape.

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