Infographics and communication – data visualization in the information age

1 Flares 1 Flares ×

I love infographics. I really do. What am I talking about ? Well, this is how wikipedia defines the word infographics (or data visualization)

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics  present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education.

I like this idea of processing information to make it visually appealing and sexy, making people being more intelligent after digesting it. Yes indeed, infographics isn’t new … but has been constantly underestimated or underused by the PR industry, while it has exploded all over the Internet in the past 5 years, thanks to passionnate designers. And at the era of Social Media, infographics are having a second youth. Hereunder is a quick round-up, along with some recommendations to keep in mind for using infographics in the world of communication.

Information has also to be beautiful – infographics Showcase
Information doesn’t only need to be distributed. It also need to be beautiful. Hereunder, some good example of what good infographics can look like: http://visualisationmagazine.com/100datavis.htm

Of course, this is just a selection, I’m pretty sure you’ll find many more of them during your Internet wanderings.
Looking for some more? Then I’d recommend you to have a look here: http://delicious.com/search?p=infographic

And for the pleasure of the eyes : http://ffffound.com/home/maysun/found/

Infographics for communication
And what infographics can bring to communication and PR? We – in PR – are in the work of spreading information, educating and interesting people with good quality information. And companies have loads of data to communicate about. By offering not only corporate messages, but also education and intelligence to understand complex data systems and situations, companies are building strong connection with their audience based on trust.
Yet, infographics are traditionnaly built by journalists (see the NYT and its fabulous infographics) and designers.

Some best practices
The social media age perfectly fits to infographics – both with the platform and the format aspect. If your infographic is a still image, then FlickR is the perfect place to host it (because of the social aspect of the website, but also because they already have a strong community of infographic fans – have a look a the Infographics pool, or this group, or this one, or this one, etc …). The community is already pretty strong and structured with big blogs. Looking for some inspiration? Have a look here :

There is of course plenty of other outstanding blogs discussing about Data Visualization and Infographics :)
Still images aren’t the only format for infographics. Video are also a weapon of choice (not only on Youtube, but also Vimeo).
Finally, Flash animations are an extrordinary way to offer not only information, but also interaction with it. But to facilitate the communication about it, they’ll have to be embeddable, or to offer screenshots that are easily embeddable on external websites along with source links.

Interested to go further / give a try by yourself?
Here is some tools to start with playing data for you, courtesy of Google and IBM. You can also have a look at the work of Neoformix and also the famous Gapminder.

Any suggestion to share? Help yourself on the comment section hereunder :)

[Update] : the IBM Many Eyes link has been corrected, thanks to Lars :)