Do you have your next big infographic idea but know how to get it on paper? Do you have all the data you need but aren’t sure how to visualize it?
Creating a really cool, memorable and–above all–shareable infographic comes down to investing the necessary time and attention in all the steps that lead up to an awesome data visualization.
In a previous series of posts, we discussed the steps to creating your own infographic. One of the key elements in this process is understanding that information can be categorized in one of five ways:
The visual format you choose will depend on how you want to organize your information. To help you identify which type of infographic will best serve your purpose and audience, we’ve compiled a list of the most-used types, along with advice on when to use them and examples of each.
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As its name implies, this type of infographic incorporates different chart and graph formats. For example, the business report above (click to enlarge) uses not only the typical bar chart, but also resorts to pie charts, maps and comparisons using vector icons.
This mixed bag of charts and graphs is the best option when you have many statistics, facts and figures to communicate to your audience.
Another common type of infographic is the list-based or informational visual. This type of longform presentation is composed mostly of text and doesn’t rely too much on graphs, charts or other visual elements, as seen in the colorful infographic above. While the information is enhanced with an attractive color scheme and icons, overall, the words drive the message home.
Whenever you want to show how something has evolved over time or want to tell a story in chronological order, this type of infographic is the most useful in getting your point across.
Timelines can be used for everything from brand stories to resumes to the historical development of a trend, person or product. They are most effective when they incorporate many different data points spread out across time and are accompanied by images, icons and other graphic elements, as seen in the timeline above.
These types of infographics show the steps involved in creating something. For example, the visual above shows readers how to make red wine in 22 steps. This format is best suited for visualizing how-to articles and the description of any procedure with several instructions to follow.
Although this visual format may seem similar to the previous one, it is different in the sense that it refers specifically to the description of a process–particularly a decision-making process. This type of infographic is commonly referred to as a flow chart or a decision-tree.
Given the fact that infographics can be used nowadays to communicate all types of information–from data-heavy reports to light-hearted messages that are fodder for social media platforms and viral content sites–these types of visuals are usually humorous and informative at the same time. From determining what kind of personality you have to finding the right employee for a job, there are flow charts for just about everything.
Another common use for infographics is making comparisons between two products, people, ideas, things, events or places. Besides comparing two products side by side, it can also be used to visually contrast and compare seemingly opposing things to reveal similarities, differences and relative advantages.
One of the easiest ways to visually communicate trends across a region–local, national or global–is to use a location infographic. Usually in the form of a map with icons and color-coded regions, this type of visual is ideal for comparing regional and global statistics on a relevant subject that readers care about. For example, one idea could be a map of crime rates across different states; another could be comparisons of cost of living; or a visual representation of the expansion of a company across the world.
A photographic infographic or “photo-graphic” (Get it? This is also called an “image-based infographic”) is what results from the combination of images and graphic elements such as simple line charts, icons or text, as seen above. Working on the basis of a background composed of high-quality images, this type of infographic is aesthetically pleasing and catches the eye because of the way it creatively combines disparate visual formats.
This type of chart organizes information according to levels–whether it be level of importance, level of difficulty, income level, etc. Although most commonly seen in the shape of a pyramid, as in the example above, this type of infographic can also be seen in the form of an organizational chart. The key function of this type of visual is to compare the different levels and show the relation between each of them.
As the name implies, single-chart infographics simply use one chart type as the focal point of the data visualization. In comparison with mixed-charts infographics, this one performs much better in terms of shares and views on social media platforms.
In a study of more than 16,000 infographics conducted by Visual.ly, it was found that the top-shared infographics were all easy to understand, simple and not very text-heavy. In line with this trend, the top three most popular infographics were flow charts, single charts and list-based infographics.
We’ve all seen these kinds of infographics floating around the Internet: The ones with various stats and figures visualized using large numbers, icons or other graphic elements. Sometimes called “number porn,” this type of infographic is ideal for adding visual interest to individual units of information.
This type of infographic uses visual metaphors such as the human body to display information. For example, if you want to present the ideal profile of a CEO, this format allows you to visualize this information in a palatable manner, versus a plain list of characteristics.
Alternatively, you can also make use of less figurative anatomical infographics by using representations of objects and displaying the parts that make up their anatomy, such as “the anatomy of the perfect website.”
Many job candidates have resorted to turning their text-based Word resumes into visually captivating infographics.
Hannah Morgan, author of the book The Infographic Resume, advises using visuals with a purpose, such as charts that highlight key statistics and accomplishments.
She especially advises using these types of infographics in industries that are the most open to non-traditional resumes: marketing, advertising, graphic design, high tech and startups.
Once you’ve decided on the type of infographic that best suits your content, you can start creating your own by experimenting with any of the online infographic tools out there right now.
Visme, for example, is an online infographic tool that provides users with hundreds of templates to start with, across all of the infographic types mentioned above. You can try it for free here.
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