With Infographics, the Picture Tells the Story

I’m a visual thinker. So I enjoy cruising the burgeoning world of infographics, which explain abstract, complex ideas in a mix of colorful designs and brief explanatory text.

This goes far past your basic pie chart or bar graph. Infographics, at their best, tell a story about complex ideas though words and pictures. They are visually structured to lead your eye through the content in a logical sequence, often beautifully illustrated and, well, just fun to look at and learn from.

While infographics have become a hot new medium for conveying all kinds of information, the idea of combining data and design to explain a complex concept is far from revolutionary. Edward Tufte, Yale professor emeritus, has built his career demonstrating how to display data clearly and beautifully to tell a story. Here’s an interview with Tufte by AdAge, that lays out some of his concepts for quality infographics.

And here are a few examples from around the Internet that show how infographics convey a compelling story in a snapshot:

How do Colors Affect Purchases?
This is a fun look by KissMetrics at the art and science of color in consumer packaging. It spools the information vertically, breaking up content in logical horizontal slices. A good summary of some fascinating marketing research.


Michael Anderson Resume
This infographics designer put his skills to work to get noticed. Creative, fun and easy way to get a sense of both his background, his design skills and his personality.


International Influence of Starbucks and McDonalds
Great graphics and a parallel design structure help to tell a complex story of international trade and commerce. Infographic by Flaming Toast Productions for the Princeton University International Networks Archive.


Left v. Right
This detailed overview of the politics dividing our country, by David McCandless and Stefanie Posavec, takes a bit more effort to consume, but it works well because of the careful, parallel layout and arrows that guide your eye through each section. The designers made it easy to make comparisons (whether or not you agree with the characterizations).


The World of Seven Billion
This stunning, interactive infographic by National Geographic does what this medium does best—gives you an immediate understanding of extensive comparative data about world income levels and life styles.


Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your great work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.

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