Blog Posted In Animals

Big Thinkers of the Animal World


By | source: Jun 5th, 2017

Thank goodness intelligence doesn’t correspond exactly to size. If it did, I don’t think we would be doing as well as we are. We’re not exactly the biggest creatures on the planet. But, when it comes to true intelligence, it’s us humans that have the upper hand, and much to our advantage.

This infographic shows that you can measure an animals’ intelligence by comparing the ratio of the weight of its brain, to the weight of its body. That being said, it’s easy to see why we associate big animals with being rather “dumb” animals (as the stereotype goes).

What puts us on top of the intelligence list are the extra cortical neurons that we possess. They make up the cortex of the brain. This in turns, puts us atop the intelligence rankings, regardless of our less than impressive, and lanky physical stature. Have a look at the sizes of these 10 deadly animals.    [Via]

infographic world

Blog Posted In Business

Why Your Business Still Needs Infographics in 2018


By | source: Jan 8th, 2018

In today’s world of digital marketing, an infographic can be defined as a graphic visual that translates complex information quickly, clearly and in an engaging way.

As a business owner, you probably already know many of the reasons why your business needs infographics.   Some of the convincing stats about why you need infographics floating around the web include:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual (Source)
  • The average user only reads 20-28% of words on a page (Source)
  • Infographics are 30x more likely to be read than text articles (Source)
  • Using infographics can improve web traffic by 12% (Source)
  • Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content (Source)

Stats like these are part of the reason that infographics gained popularity among marketers.  However, many of these statistics date back to 2014 and before.  With so many infographics flooding the scene, businesses may be wondering whether infographics are still effective or not.

Yes, infographics are still effective!

Here are just some of the reasons your business needs infographics as part of a marketing plan in 2018 and beyond.

1. Infographics Work Across Multiple Platforms

infographics across marketing platforms

Creating content uses up a lot of your business’s resources, so you want to make sure each piece of content gets maximum usage.  Infographics can offer a great ROI because they work across multiple platforms including:

  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • Sales letters (read how)
  • Reports
  • Printed posters and flyers (offline marketing is still a valid tactic!)

 

2. Infographics are Replacing Whitepapers

infographic from white paper

Marketers have talked about how traditional whitepapers are a relic of the past.  While we still need whitepapers, no one is interested in reading multiple pages on complex data.   Customers and clients want information quickly and in a straightforward way.

Infographic whitepapers are a solution to the dead whitepaper.  The infographic shown above was used in a white paper released by the UK government.  Visualizations like these help strike the right balance between entertaining and informing, plus building brand collateral in the process.

 

3. Infographics Are Still a Valid SEO Technique

infographics for SEO

One of the reasons that infographics became so popular with marketers is because they are great for organic link building.  All you need to do is include an embed code with your infographic.  When other websites use your infographic on their sites, you get a natural link to your desired page.

Infographics can also indirectly improve SEO because they do so well on social media.  While social media isn’t a direct ranking factor, social matters for SEO: The top-ranked pages in Google have vastly more social signals than other pages.

 

4. People Crave Facts and Stats

The desire for factual information

We live in a society where fake news is shouted from the rooftops. It might seem like statistics don’t matter in this world where people make decisions based on emotions and gut feelings.  However, as The Guardian points out, this has actually created an opportunity for data.

Individuals trying to “work out what is really going on” are hungry for data so they can make informed decisions.  Infographics are a great way to provide this data to your audience.

Note: It’s important that your infographic data actually be correct to get this benefit! Make sure that you do your research, aren’t cherry-picking data, and cite sources.  Otherwise you’ll end up like these misleading infographics.

 

5. Infographics Are Readily Available to Small Businesses

small business infographics

If you need a reason why to use infographics for your small business, it is this.  You can visit websites like Daily Infographic or Visual.ly, search for infographics in your industry, and then share them in blog posts or on social media.

It doesn’t matter that your brand didn’t create the infographic.  By sharing an infographic which is useful to your audience, you position yourself as an expert and gain the trust of customers.

Of course, it is still best to create your own infographic with a unique story and branding. However, if your business budget can’t afford a design team, you can still share worthy infographics from the web.

 

6. Infographics Spice Up About Pages

Infographic about us page

For B2B brands, the “About Page” is one of the most important pages on the website.  Including infographics is a great way to get the message across while showcasing the personality of your business.  This has been done excellently by brands like Moz, AirBnB, The Vehicle Group, and Visionaire.

A lot of About Us pages also contain employee profiles.  These profiles are great at increasing your conversions because potential customers find it easier to connect with real human beings.

Take a cue from the new trend of infographic resumes and put employee profiles in infographic form instead of the standard, formal (read: boring) template. This helps the humanity behind your business shine through in a trendy, engaging manner.

 

7. Visual Stimulation Increases Client Retention

visual stimulation

As Lucid Press points out, consumers aren’t just exposed to loads of content, they are exposed to competing brand messages all at once.  If your brand isn’t able to keep consumers focused on your message, you risk losing them.

Visual stimulation is critical to keeping consumers focused on your message in these ways:

  • Visuals are the first impression customers get of your brand.
  • Visual content keeps customers engaged by compelling them to continue experiencing the content.
  • Customers associate superior image quality with brand quality.
  • Visual content is more memorable and keeps your business top of mind.

So take a look through your website and other marketing platforms.  How visually stimulating are they? If your website fails to deliver on the eye-candy, then your business needs infographics.

 

8.  Pinterest Keeps On Growing

pinterest marketing

In April of 2017, Pinterest had 175 million active users.  By September, that number had grown to 200 million (Source).  There’s no denying the importance of Pinterest as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Your business needs infographics as part of its Pinterest strategy as a way to stand out.  And, with the vertical image layout, scannability, and optimal pin size (which is approximately 735 x 1102px), Pinterest feed is set up for infographic success.

Tip: Make sure the font on your infographic is legible on the Pinterest home feed, including when viewed on mobile.

 

9.  Infographics Make Content More Digestible

digestible content

In today’s digital world, you’ve only got 7 seconds to grab consumers’ attention.  How are you supposed to do this when you have complex information to convey?

Practices like including headings and bullet points to make it more scannable are important for text content.  In fact readers tend to stick around longer to read text that accompanies infographic.   However, nothing beats infographics for making complex info digestible.

You can still keep your long-form content (and should!) but supplementing it with an infographic is a great way to ensure all users – including those crunched for time – are satisfied.

 

10.  Your Business Needs Infographics For a Diverse Content Plan

diversifying content

Let’s face it.  If your content plan consists only of blog posts (or reports, videos, product images, etc.), your users are going to get bored.

To keep users engaged and coming back for more content, you need to offer them variety.  Infographics shouldn’t be the only type of content on your website and marketing channels, but they should definitely be a part of the overall plan!

How do you use infographics in your business?

Image credits:
Infographic Resume” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Devign Elements
Growing Social Media” (CC BY 2.0) by mkhmarketing
Infographic: Geological disposal: Making” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by DECCgovuk
1.17% of the UK” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by DimitraTzanos
circlescape” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Zeptonn
Search Engines Love Content by Go Local” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Go Local Search
pinterest_infographic” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Stefan Leijon
Cover Infographics” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Stefan Leijon
mesmerized by numbers” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by hsingy
Linkedin maps data visualization” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by luc legay

infographic world

Blog Posted In Education, Lifestyle

The Magic of Music


By | source: Dec 27th, 2017

Do you ever go a day without listening to some type of music? You probably don’t, and that’s because music is all around us. We  hear it in stores, coming from car stereos, and of course our own headphones! Music transcends time and cultures and finds its way into all of our lives. Pretty cool, right?

Despite its presence in our lives, there’s still a lot we don’t understand about the effects of music on our minds and bodies. For example, why does your voice sound so different on recordings? Are you really tone deaf? Scientists have come up with some theories to explain these and other musical phenomena.

Why do songs get stuck in my head?

It happens to all of us, out of the blue a song pops in our head and it’s stuck there on repeat. Maybe the chorus really is just that catchy, but it’s also a phenomenon called earworms. Luckily these aren’t literal worms, just a term that refers to songs that get stuck in your brain. It’s difficult to say for sure why this happens, but some researchers have concluded that it comes from listening to a song many, many times. The interesting part is, it doesn’t have to be a song you’ve listened to recently.

Songs played on the radio are the most common earworms, since we hear them often. They typically pop into our heads when we’re doing something mindless or routine. One researcher found that people often have positive emotions after having an earworm and when asked to sing it back, what they sing is almost exactly like the original. Perhaps the purpose of earworms is to help our memory and make us happy?

Why does my voice sound different on recordings?

Most people would agree, the sound of their own voice is just not pleasant. Few people listen to a recording of their own voice without asking, is that really me? Studies have shown, this has to do with the way we hear. Sound is carried along two paths, and when we speak we  hear the sound that comes from our vocal chords up to our ear. When we hear a recording of our voice, that “normal” sound we hear is gone and what is left is the sound that travels through the air back to our ears.

Am I really “tone deaf”?

Good news! Just because you may be bad at singing doesn’t mean you are actually, in fact, tone deaf. Amusia is the technical term for tone deafness and it actually only occurs in 1 out of every 20 people. For most people, the ability to process sound and match pitch and rhythm can be learned with musical training. Maybe some singing lessons are in your future?

Why are some people so bad at keeping rhythm?

Have you ever been in a group listening to music and everyone is snapping or clapping along to the beat but there’s that one person who just cannot keep the rhythm? This is an actual scientific condition called being “beat deaf”. While many people may have some trouble matching a beat, very few are actually beat deaf. These people have no problem clapping or snapping when there’s no sound, but the problem is presented when they try to synchronize with a sound such as music. This inability to remain on beat with music may have to do with their own internal rhythms.

Why do I get chills when listening to music?

Some songs, or parts of a song, will give you goosebumps, or chills. Why does this happen when listening to music? This phenomena, called musical frisson, is due to the pleasure that comes from hearing music and the release of dopamine. Scientists have found that it can even happen when the pleasure is anticipated. This explains why music, which has no survival value, is so important to human society.  

Why do certain artists and songs bring back memories?

The title or first few notes of a song can bring back strong memories or feelings. It has long been recognized that music is tied to memories and though it is very difficult to say exactly why this happens, studies have shown that listening to music does bring back feelings of nostalgia or takes us back to a specific time and place. This could be because music triggers our conscious and unconscious memory. Songs of a particular era remind us of what we did during those times, or a certain artist reminds us of an old relationship, possibly because music is quite literally the soundtrack of our lives. Psychologists are now discovering how to help patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia by using music to assist their memory.

Does music really help you exercise?

For the vast majority of people, music is a legal performance enhancer. It helps them exercise  harder, longer, and faster. This could be due to the fact that music acts as a distraction from the pain and fatigue you’re experiencing. Most people naturally move to a beat and keep up with the tempo. This is why the majority of workout playlists are comprised of high energy, uptempo songs. Moving rhythmically to the beat can even help conserve energy.

Why do I love listening to sad songs?

It’s no surprise that upbeat music can enhance our mood, but why then do we also enjoy listening to sad songs? Much like venting, research has shown that listening to sad music helps us release the emotional sadness and distress we may be feeling. We also experience the above-mentioned musical frisson more often with sad songs due to the release of prolactin and oxytocin, which are bonding and nurturing chemicals. In effect, listening to sad music can actually help us regain our positive and happy mood.

You’ve probably experienced one if not all of these musical phenomena, and now you have an idea of why they  happen! Whatever genre is your favorite, whatever artist takes you back to your favorite summer in high school, or whatever song gets stuck in your head, the connections we have with music are deeper and more amazing than we even thought!

the magic of music described by 8 phenomenon

infographic world

Blog Posted In Lifestyle, Retail

Infographic Posters For Your Favorite Room


By | source: Dec 1st, 2017

After hours of staring at visuals on the web, it’d be nice to have a few pieces to look at on the wall.    Decorate your room, fill up that blank wall, or just put up a handy guide for regular consumption.  We’ve found a few interesting infographic posters that’ll spice up your wall!

*Please note if purchased through here, we may receive a small trickle of affiliate commission(at no extra cost to you) to help support Daily Infographic.  Thanks!

The Many Varieties of Whiskey

What a web of whiskey can be woven!   This chart breaks down the many types of whiskey you can line your bar with in”a spirited taxonomy of the ultimate amber elixir”.

Spices and Culinary Herbs Collections

Kitchen related infographic posters easily make our list of favorites – timeless, useful, and alluring all at once.

common myth conceptions

Most Common Falsehoods

75 Myths that have been debunked, ranging from bats are blind, we use only 10% of our brain, to you can see the Great Wall of China from space.  Gotcha already?

59 fun facts about san francisco

San Francisco

59 illustrated facts about the illustrious San Francisco.  Detailed facts can be viewed here

 


The Very Many Varieties of Beer

A comprehensive diagram of beers with recommended types and drinkware.  For the barroom, bedroom, anywhere you’d like to think about beer.

 

 

world as 100 people

The World As 100 People

There are now 7.5 billion people in the world but it’s a bit easier to represent them as 100 people.

Victorian Pictorial Graph Of Rivers and Mountains Poster

Victorian Pictorial Graph Of Rivers and Mountains Poster

A visual guide to the heights and lengths of mountains and rivers in Europe from the Victorian era.

chart of cosmic exploration

The Chart Of Cosmic Exploration

A tremendous chart of every cosmic exploration from the Luna 2 in 1959 to the Dscovr in 2015.

animal professions ABC poster

The Alphabet of Animal Professions

Kids are like sponges, sopping up the information all around them.  This poster is a fun and savvy introduction to both animals and professions!  The Wolf Web Designer?  Right on!  You can even tell your kids this was printed with vegetable ink.

25 classic cocktails

Cocktail Recipes

25 cocktail recipes you might need in your Friday night arsenal.  This tribute showcases ingredients and scaled recipes as well as how the drink is typically garnished.

left vs right

Left Vs Right

When non-Americans ask about our political system, I prefer to send them this poster.  We’d written about it here.

Orcagraphic poster - English edition

Orcagraphic poster 

Orcas, commonly known as Killer Whales, are majestic animals with no natural predators.  For the orcaholic or orcaphile.

Vintage Guitar-A Visual Compendium of Guitars

64 famous guitars from 75 years of rock and roll history.

how startup funding works
How Startup Funding Works

A primer on how startup funding works, going from the founders to a (hopeful) exit.

infographic world

Blog Posted In Education, Lifestyle

How To Learn Something New Everyday In 15 Minutes (Or Less)


By | source: Nov 15th, 2017

As children we were encouraged to learn something new every day.  We did experiments at school, took part in extra-curricular activities, and joined cultural and activist groups during our college years.

Then something happened:

Adulthood.

We went from being curious children to adults dedicated to a 9-5 job (which the majority of us find unrewarding), adopting routines that rarely ever change.

Benedict Carey, author of the book How We Learn, says that routine limits our brain’s ability to learn new skills and knowledge.  This is worrisome because learning new things is important for our happiness.

 

Why Learning New Things Is Crucial for Happiness

Image of Embroidered brain art as an example of how learning makes us happier

You may have heard that the “brain is like a muscle.”  Just like other muscles, you have to exercise the brain by learning new things.  Yes, there is ample research which shows that learning helps build neuron connections and can stave off diseases like Parkinson’s. But there is a lot more to learning new things than just making the brain stronger.  The act of learning actually makes us happier.

As Belle Beth Cooper writes about in her post on “Why New Things Make Us Feel So Good”, there is a section in the brain known as the SN/VTA.

The SN/VTA part of the brain is linked to the learning and memory parts, but it is best known as the “novelty center” because it lights up when exposed to new stimuli.  You experience a rush of dopamine, which is one of the chemicals that motivates us towards rewards.

Here is what happens:

  • You experience something new.
  • The “novelty center” of your brain is activated.
  • You get a rush of dopamine.
  • Dopamine motivates you to follow through with the new thing.
  • You get another rush of dopamine when you finish the activity.

It is no surprise then that research has found dopamine is closely linked to the learning process. In short, learning new things stimulates happiness chemicals brain.

 

Other Benefits of Learning Something New

relief sculpture of people floating on brain balloons

  • Learning Makes You More Interesting to Others: You’ll always have something to talk about at parties.
  • Can Relate to More People: The more you know, the more likely you are to find something in common with others.  Empathy also helps bridge gaps in communication.
  • Builds Self-Esteem: Practice makes perfect, and when we see ourselves mastering new knowledge and skills, we build self-efficacy.   Self efficacy is our own faith that we can succeed at a given task, which closely overlaps with self-esteem and confidence.
  • You’ll Make More Friends: Because of the benefits of learning listed above, you’ll find it easier to meet people and make friends. Social interactions are essential for our happiness, so learning really does pay off in the long run!
  • Sets a Good Example: If you want your kids and loved ones to reap the same benefits of learning, lead by example!
  • Earn More Money: Depending on what you learn, you might build both technical or soft skills to advance your career.

lady jumping between mountains to reach job

  • Find a More Rewarding Career: It isn’t money which motivates us –having a sense of purpose motivates. Learning new skills makes you better-rounded so you can more easily find what you love to do.
  • Empowering: Learning gives you the information you need to make better informed decisions in life.
  • You’ll Learn Easier and Faster: The more you practice learning, the denser the myelin white matter of your brain becomes and the stronger your neural pathways become.
  • Learning Fuels Creativity: As Positive Psychology champion Vanessa King says, ideas come from seemingly unrelated things. Learning new things can trigger ideas in other areas.

How to Learn Something New Right Now

Learning can be broken down into short-term and long-term learning.  If you don’t necessarily want to embark on a big endeavor (such as learning to play an instrument), your brain can still benefit from learning smaller bits of information on a daily basis.  Here are some ways to do that.

1. Follow Daily Infographic

No brainer right? Humans process visuals quickly: It takes less than 1/10 of a second for your brain to get a sense of a visual.  Absorbing new information using infographics is a quick and easy way to learn.  Visual learning not only decreases comprehension time, but sticks around longer in our memories.   On Daily Infographic you can spend 15 minutes per day perusing an infographic on a topic of your choice.

Screenshot of Daily Infographic where you can learn something new

2. Watch Ted ED

Ted Talks are famous for bringing a huge amount of topics by innovative thinkers.  Ted Ed takes learning a step further with engaging video lessons.  Topics range from “the scientific way to cut a cake” to “how money laundering works.”

 

3. Play GeoGuessr

Americans are notoriously bad at geography, but the rest of the world probably isn’t too much better.  The game GeoGuessr takes a unique approach to learning geography.   You are shown a Google Maps photo and have to guess where it is.  You might just find yourself saying things like, “Huh, I didn’t know that Afghanistan has such green forests!”  It’s free to play.

 

4. Train Your Brain at Lumosity

Brought to you by scientists and game developers, Lumosity has a great collection of cognitive games you can play. You might not learn a concrete fact, but your brain will be challenged and grow!

Learning game screenshot from Lumosity website

5. Follow Curiosity

Curiosity is a website which inspires people to get smarter.  They do it by finding the most interesting news on a variety of topics.  Just click what topic you are interested in learning about and you’ll find fascinating articles and videos.

Ways to Learn a Skill

Ready to take on a bigger challenge? Learning new skills that require a longer-term commitment can be even more rewarding and stimulating for the brain.  Every day, you build on what you learned the day before until you reach a level of mastery.  Here are just some ideas of things you can start learning and where to start.

 

6. View Instructables

Not sure what you want to learn today? Just visit Instructables and view any one of the great DIY tutorials to learn a new skill.

 

7. Learn First Aid from the Red Cross App

First aid is something that everyone should know and refresh regularly.  The American Red Cross has come up with a great app to help.  It isn’t a substitute for an in-person course, but it does have bite-size courses on basics accompanied by videos and instructions.

8. Learn a New Language with Duolingo

Duolingo is an app which makes it easy to learn a new language thanks to its interactive method and how it breaks down lessons into small chunks. There are dozens of languages to choose from and the app is free to use!

Screenshot from Duolingo app where you can learn a new language

 

9. Become a Better Writer with 750 Words

Writing is fundamental cornerstone of communication and remains one of the most in-demand skills that employers look for. The app 750 Words helps you become a better writer by having you write a minimum of 750 words of stream of conscious writing per day – a practice which is said to improve writing fluency and also help you learn about yourself in the process.

 

10.  Learn Coding at Udacity

Udacity is one of the most popular places to learn coding for free.  They have videos, quizzes, and instructions so you can earn a “Nanodegree.”  The courses are made by expert programmers and big companies like Google so they are definitely relevant to today’s job market and tech trends.

 

11. Build Your Vocabulary

A large vocabulary is not only impressive, but it allows you to express yourself better.  Remember the book 1984 and how they started cutting words from the language as a form of mind control?  Well, that’s the power of vocab!  The website Vocabulary.com has come up with an adaptive learning game to help you learn more words easily.

Image of lightbulb - how to learn something new every day

12. Master New Skills at Udemy-Black Friday Sale

On Udemy, you can find over 55,000 online courses on topics ranging from web development to music training.  Many basic level classes are free but there are paid courses as well.

 

13. Learn Digital Marketing with Primer

All small business owners and entrepreneurs need to know digital marketing techniques if they are going to stay relevant.  Created by Google, Primer teaches marketing skills and delivers them in digestible 5-minute segments.

 

14. Take Online Courses at Coursera

Coursera is one of the best places to find free online courses in higher education on just about any topic.  The courses are offered by top universities in the US, helping you to extend your education from the comforts of your own home.  Certificates are available for a fee.  As an alternative, Iversity.org provides development courses from experts all over Europe. usually on very specific topics.

 

15. Learn Leadership Skills at MindTools

Today’s top companies aren’t just looking for skills like coding.  They want people with soft skills like leadership, team management, creativity, and decision-making.  MindTools has a great collection of mini courses which teach you these skills.

Screenshot of Mind Tools website where you can learn something new

 

16.  Learn Gratitude with Mojo

Gratitude is key for happiness in life.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that gratitude actually has to be learned and worked on.  The app Mojo helps you rewire your brain to be more grateful by encouraging you to write at least five good things per day, rate the day, and add photos.

 

Why 15 Minutes a Day?

Drawing of a person reading underneath of a brain tree

It doesn’t have to be 15 minutes a day that you dedicate to learning something new.  It could be 30 minutes, one hour, or even as little as 5 minutes per day.  What matters is that you:

  1. Dedicate a specific amount of time daily for learning new things.
  2. Hold yourself accountable.

The reason the time-frame unit is so important is because people are more likely to stay motivated and succeed if they break goals into smaller units.

 

Implement What You’ve Learned!

jigsaw pieces - putting what you've learned to use in everyday life

Using these tools to learn something new every day is a great start.  But the reality is that we are already bombarded with information on a daily basis.

How much?

According to Niklas Goeke, we consume 74.92 gigabytes of data every day. That’s enough to fill 9 DVDs with data – or 74 pickup trucks filled with paper!

All of the information we consume isn’t helping us achieve happiness or wellbeing in life.  Instead, excessive info consumption drains us and fries our brains.

Of course, most of this info consumption is done during our (brain-killing) routines.  Simply by breaking routine and making a point to learn new things is going to help you retain and utilize the info better.

But, to really reap the life-changing benefits of learning new things, follow this one important tip:

Share what you’ve learned with others.

Using what you've learned to grow

It can be on a daily learning blog.  Or on social media. Or just make a point to tell your spouse what you’ve learned that day while you eat dinner together.

To reinforce your skills, utilizing specific techniques can help you learn faster.  These include testing yourself regularly, finding ways to gain practical experience, rewarding yourself, and teaching others.

It may be difficult to find all that time.  But the simple act of sharing your new knowledge and insight will help it stick and make the benefits of learning even more life changing.

 

Image credits:
Grow” (CC BY 2.0) by crdotx
Blue Denim and Pink Brain Anatomy Mini H” (CC BY 2.0) by Hey Paul Studios
Post contains affiliate link to send a few pennies to support us, thanks!
infographic world

Blog Posted In Education

What Is an Infographic? The History and Evolution of Data Visualization


By | source: Oct 23rd, 2017

Whether you work in marketing, research, education, or the non-profit sector, infographics are likely a part of your everyday life. Even if your sector hasn’t jumped on the infographic bandwagon, it is likely that you see infographics as you scroll through social media and blogs.

Despite how widespread infographics are, there is still confusion about what exactly qualifies as an infographic.

Definition of Infographic

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, an infographic is defined as:

A chart, diagram, or illustration (as in a book or magazine, or on a website) that uses graphic elements to present information in a visually striking way.

If we go by this definition of an infographic though, then virtually all types of visual information would be considered an infographic.

Even signs like the one below would be considered an infographic.

fall rock sign is a simple infographic

 

While useful, we generally now appreciate infographics to be more detailed and complex than a simple sign.

Wikipedia expands on the definition of infographic by saying that,

Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.

The key term here is complex information. Hence why street signs aren’t considered infographics by modern standards.

I also like how Venture Beat defines infographic as a “Picture painted with data. Take a quick look and a story emerges from numbers. Look more closely, and a complex narrative emerges from dense clusters of information.”

Key Features of Infographics:

  • Goal is to make large amounts of data immediately understandable.
  • Information can be quickly digested.
  • Visually striking.
  • Engaging.

All Infographics Contain:

  • Content Almost all infographics use some text to get the message across. However, there are some infographics – such as the IKEA stick figures – which convey the message without any text.
  • Visuals: The visuals need to be striking and clearly convey the information.
  • Knowledge: The goal of an infographic is to convey information. Without knowledge, then it is just a graphic and not infographic.
IKEA how-to infographic

IKEA’s instructions are an example of infographics without any text.

Types of Infographics

There are a lot of design and marketing agencies that have broken down infographics into types.  However, it is hard to find a consensus amongst them.

As one designer points out, the breakdown of infographic types depends on how you define the different between data, information, and knowledge.  These terms are highly subjective, which explains why we still don’t have a widely-agreed upon definition of infographic, nevertheless the types.

The Harvard Business Review guide Good Charts lays out four types of infographics: declarative, conceptual, exploratory, and data-driven. In this classification system, the types overlap each other, such as declarative-exploratory.

However, I prefer the simpler breakdown of infographic types by Column Five Media.  They define three main infographic types: Data visualization, information design, and editorial infographics.

As a consumer, understanding the types of infographics can help you better gauge the value of the information presented.

You’ll be able to ask yourself questions like how many data sets are being presented, and is the infographic trying to elicit a response from me?  Considering that infographics have long been used as a propaganda tool, this insight can help you avoid being manipulated with data.

Data Visualization Infographics

Many of the early precursors to infographics, such as line graphs and charts, are types of data visualizations.  The difference is that today’s data visualizations often present huge amounts of information.

Key Features:

  • Illustrates numbers/amounts
  • Delivers information
  • Is objective
  • Usually created for a specific niche
  • Not narrative – focus on the numbers
  • Tend to be more “numbers heavy” than graphic

There is a lot of debate about the difference between an infographic and data visualization.  Some would argue that they are completely different things.  However, the common consensus is that data visualizations are a type of infographic, but not all infographics are data visualizations.

Example of Data Visualization Infographic

Infographic shows the relative complexity of the solar magnetic field.

 

Information Design Infographics

With these information design infographics, the data is not specific numbers.  Rather, the data is concepts which are visualized. Some examples of these information design are timelines, how-to steps, flowcharts, comparisons, hierarchical, and anatomical illustrations.

Key Features:

  • Illustrates concepts rather than numbers
  • Include more than one set of data or info in order to tell a larger story
  • Typically aimed at a mass market
  • May not be objective

Example of Information Design Infographic  

information design type of infographic showing crowd funding benefits

The infographic shows a concept, not a specific set of data.

 

Editorial Infographics

It used to be that text-based editorials were found in newspapers and magazines to supplement the objective news reporting.  Now, there is a growing trend towards editorial type infographics.

Key Features:

  • Are not objective
  • Have a distinct call to action
  • Often used by non-profits and activist groups
  • Use various data sets to support viewpoint

Example of an Editorial Infographic:

PeTA infographic

An editorial infographic by PeTA

 

Why Infographics Are So Powerful

Long before humans invented alphabet systems, they communicated with visuals.  The human brain is hardwired to process visual information, and it does it much more efficiently than it processes text information.

infograpic on the benefits of visual learning

Source

Shortening Attention Span

Another reason that infographics are so powerful in today’s era of the internet, is that they capture attention.  Our attention spans have drastically shortened because of the constant stimulus we receive.  In this era of goldfish brains, learning needs to be micro.

Infographics are one of the best ways to present huge amounts of data in small bites, thus making them a very powerful learning tool.  They are also great for marketers who want to get their message across as quickly as possible.   Color visuals increase comprehension, learning, and retention by over 73%.  The appeal lasts: Eye tracking research on news pages has shown that 87% of people who saw an infographic also read the accompanying text, whereas only 41% read the text of a typical page with heading and text.

Shareability

The key to having content go viral is to make it shareable.  Your readers see the content and believe that sharing it makes them look good.  They then want to share it with their friends, coworkers, and grandparents.  Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content (Buffer, 2014).

 

Infographic History Timeline

Prehistory and Early Civilization

We humans are visual thinkers, so it is no surprise that infographics have been around since even before civilization.  The earliest examples of infographics are arguably cave paintings which many experts believe were used to communicate information about animals and hunting methods.  There are also prehistoric examples of constellations maps and land maps.  However, the combining of data and art didn’t develop until the 1600s.

Dunhuang star chart

Dunhuang star chart, dated to between 600 andn 900 AD.

 

1600s:

Maps had been around for long before the 17th century, but this is when the principles of measuring and marking distances as well as special geometry were laid down.  As a result, we see a huge jump in the quality of maps during this century.

Christoph Scheiner is usually credited as the person responsible for making the first modern infographic.  His map of sunspots was printed in 1626.

Christoph Scheiner sunspots infographic

 

1786

The end of the 18th century in Europe was a Golden Age for sciences and arts. The date 1786 stands out as when a Scotsman named William Playfair published his work “Commercial and Political Atlas.” The work contains the first examples of a bar chart. Playfair also is credited with inventing the line, area, and pie charts.

William Playfair, grandfather of infographics

 

1800s

The 1800s was the era of charts. Many government offices started using visual charts for statistical analysis.  The popularity of charts led to major innovations in their types and styles.

Suddenly, we had more attractive charts as well as new types like bubble charts, contour plots, and 3d charts.

Infographic charts also started to influence history. 

If it weren’t for John Snow’s 1841 cholera map (which showed cholera outbreaks linked to a common water source), he probably wouldn’t have been able to convince public officials that cholera is spread by water.  Thanks to his visualization, the well pump was removed.

Cholera outbreak map

Cholera outbreak map

In 1860, a map of slavery influenced the course of the Civil War.  By seeing which areas held slaves, the Union was able to determine which areas would fight harder to keep slavery – and which ones might switch sides.

civil war slave holders map

One of the first infographics to combine multiple data sets was made in 169 by designer Charles Minard. He visualized Emperor Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia, showing the number of forces, distance traveled, temperatures, and rivers crossed.

first modern infographic

 

Florence Nightingale was amongst the first to use infographics for activism.  Her 1858 infographic of mortality of British army was used to convince the Queen to provide better medical care for soldiers in the Crimean War.

florence nightengale infographic

 

 

1900s

Up until this period, infographics were mainly used to convey data within scientific circles and niche audiences. The booming 1900s found infographics being adopted by mainstream media.

People were moving to cities during this time and public transportation was getting complex.  Infographics were made to help the public navigate.  The first few attempts at mapping the subway systems in NYC were far from ideal.  It wasn’t until 1967 that subway routes were given their own color on maps.

NYC subway map 1904

First NYC subway map from 1904

 

1990s to Early 2000s

Computers and software finally became affordable and small enough to make it into homes. Design software suddenly made it possible to visualize data quickly without having to hand-draw visualizations.

The result were infographics which were much more complex, such as network graphs, dendrograms, sunburst charts, and chord diagrams.

2000s

Now is the era we are familiar with.  With the huge demand for visual content, everyone from marketers to government agencies to nonprofits have adopted infographics.

The push towards visual content also means there’s been a surge in bad infographics.  It got so bad that a 2011 article in the Atlantic called the infographic trend a “plague” and “endemic in the blogosphere.”

By the end of the decade, marketers realize that they can’t make an impact simply by putting content in visual form.  Consumers are demanding more to capture their attention.

 

The Infographic Today

Living in the information age means we are getting inundated with huge amounts of data daily. A Telegraph report found we consume the equivalent of 174 newspapers per day – which is five times more information consumed daily in 1986.

That statistic was reported in 2011. Since then, the amount of information overload has only increased.

With so much information overload, people have become very picky about what they consume. Content doesn’t even stand a chance without a visual strategy.  

Thus, there is a huge push to transform content into visual form.  In an article about how infographics jumped the shark, Flowing Data creator Nathan Yau comments on how infographics are replacing the blog post format.

 Infographics have gotten longer to fit into the blog format. Posts that used to be long lists of favorite things and best methods have shifted to something more visual.

We’ve also seen more infographic trends like interactive, 3d, and motion infographics.

Infographics have grown to great lengths, quite literally.  Keep scrolling..

long form infographic goes far down the page

Online users have also gotten immune to the visual pull of infographics.  Without a good story throughout the infographic, people get bored.  

Thus, it is no surprise that infographic design best practices include making a narrative flow.  When done well, the narrative will engage consumers as they scroll down the infographic.  The message is clear and there is a strong visual focus.

The final piece to pull it all together is a Call To Action or conclusion.  Because, without a CTA guiding you in how to react, what was the point of consuming the infographic?  Data only becomes knowledge when it can be put to use!

infographic world