If you’ve been online lately, you’ve probably come across multiple infographics – eye-catching graphics meant to provide information on a variety of topics. From newsfeeds and blogs to corporate sites, it seems as though if there’s a point to be made, there’s an infographic for it. From a branding standpoint, you’ve probably wondered if one would be appropriate for your own site. However, before making any decisions, it’s important to look at the history of infographics and where they’re heading today.
In the Beginning…
Visual examples and pieces of art have been around since the beginning of human kind, as evidenced by ancient cave paintings, maps and other historical finds. Over time, these basic illustrations grew into more, into graphs and charts that 16th and 17th-century scholars used to help people understand and interpret otherwise-complex pieces of information.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, politicians and generals used graphs and land charts to map courses during times of war, to plot routes of travel and to predict outcomes of elections. Starting in the early 20th century, architects realized the importance of visual aids for helping frustrated travelers navigate complex train and subway routes.
From the beginning of time, it’s been clear: humans are visual learners and infographics are a simple way of appealing to that basic need.
Why Infographics Matter
Complex situations are often made more complex by lists of statistics, which are easily forgotten. Infographics are different. Because they link statistical data with visual graphics, they’re processed differently. Take a look at some of the science behind infographics:
70% of all sensory receptors are located in the eyes.
We receive a bombardment of information on a daily basis (100,500 words on average), of which only 28% is processed.
Humans have a 70% understanding rate with text-only data, but a 95% understanding rate of text accompanied by visuals.
Brand researchers have caught on. From the start of 2010 to 2012, infographic search volumes have increased over 800%. Because infographics are easily shared, they drive engagement, brand recognition, traffic and conversion. From a marketing standpoint, they have a dual purpose as an advertising and lead generation tool. It’s not just a passing trend; infographics are here to stay.
Where They Are Now
While infographics may be around for the long haul, they are not immune to changes. Just like other forms of technology, the way online users gather information is changing on a regular basis. Infographics started as static pieces of information and they are now interactive ways for brands to communicate with their target audiences.
Interactive infographics are exactly what they sound like. They’re graphics that allow users to interact with data through links, motion and other design tools. These graphics can be embedded into a site for easy sharing with direct access back to the original host, which leads to an increase in traffic and overall search rankings.
But, they’re more than an SEO tool; they’re also interactive sources of information that allow audiences to leave a website with more information than they would with standard text alone or a static infographic. They highlight critical pieces of information, taking some of the guesswork and processing involved in static infographics away, and leading to a more fulfilling viewing experience.
Interactive infographics are also easier to create than ever before. In the past, creating an online graphic that was interactive required professional skills. However, with today’s responsive web design options and programs designed to allow those with no design skills to create online masterpieces, interactivity is at the disposal of anyone or any brand looking to make a major impact by increasing viewer understanding of complex or newsworthy pieces of information.
Let’s take a look at some sites that have mastered the interactive infographic by providing an explorative experience for the viewer.
CJ Pony Parts created an interactive infographic dedicated to the creator of the Shelby Cobra, Carroll Shelby. This interactive infographic allows the user to drive the world in a Shelby Cobra while learning facts about the car and its inventor.
Levi’s created an interactive infographic to show Americans exactly how much water they are using on a daily basis. This infographic allows the user to go about their day choosing the activities and products they use. A water tally shows how many gallons of water are used throughout the course of the day.
There’s a reason infographics have had a high success rate: they’re effective. However, as technology changes, so must the way we interact with the world around us. Interactivity in the infographic world is here to stay.
Savannah Marie is a writer and public relations consultant. She is the editor of her blog, Mixios, and writes about the latest online marketing, public relations and social media tactics.
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