Infographics seem to be popping up everywhere you look today. It’s a buzzword that gets used in our industry more and more frequently. Let’s take a look at what they are, where they were first spotted, why they are so popular and what the future holds for the infographic.
What is an infographic?
Infographic. Data visualization. Information design. You’ve probably heard these words being used interchangeably. In truth, there is a great deal of overlap, but for the purposes of this post we will define an infographic as a visual narrative that presents complex information and data in a clear and digestible way.
A short history
The first infographic popped up in a Google search around 30,000 BC. Ok, maybe not. But even though most people come across infographics on the web today, their humble origins can actually be traced back to early cave paintings. Early infographics can also be seen in Egyptian hieroglyphs, depicting ideas around work, everyday life and religion. Here are some other key dates that have shaped the course of infographic emergence.
Why are infographics so popular now?
As more data emerges in the world, infographics are being used more than ever to help people understand and break down complex ideas. It can be difficult to absorb dry and esoteric data, but a good infographic can transform this information into something that is digestible for a general audience. The human brain processes 90% of information it receives visually, so it’s no wonder we are drawn to infographics in this current age of information overload. Visual information captures our attention far better than written text.
What lies ahead for infographics?
The future certainly looks bright for infographics, but how will they evolve in the years to come? In the recent past, we have seen more and more interactive infographics used in editorial content (think nytimes.com). This trend seems ripe with opportunity given the ever-growing adoption of devices like the iPad and iPhone where HTML5 can be used to bring interactive infographics to life. Another exciting area with lots of potential is the use of real time data in infographics. Trending topics and social analytics are just two examples of data that are well suited for real time visual representation in infographics.
Fastco.Design states “the data boom and growing need to display complex concepts simply ensure that these opportunities for graphic visualizations will be plentiful in the years to come.”