Blog Posted In Education

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


By | source: Jun 23rd, 2020

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!

Blog Posted In Education, Food, Health, Lifestyle

The 5 Health Advantages of Quantum Water Bottles for Your Body and Mind


By | source: Sep 19th, 2022

Source

Since the magnitude of the quantum water trend has hit, we’ve heard about all the benefits that come with it. Users explain how it can increase hydration, flush toxins, and manage blood sugar. There are so many options available in today’s market. Different vessels cater to all kinds of needs, whether you need an on-the-go hydration solution or an insulated container to keep your drinks cold for extended periods. That’s all great to hear, but you may be wondering “What is quantum water?” and what are the specific advantages of a quantum water bottle over any other drinking vessel?

Quantum water results from water passing through a process that infuses it with beneficial electrolytes. When we consume this water, it enters our bloodstream, where it can provide us with essential hydration for our entire body. Here are five advantages of buying a quantum water bottle:

1. It Can Reduce Inflammation In The Body

When it comes to health, we want to avoid inflammation at all costs. Many diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, are caused or worsened by excessive inflammation in the body. As we age, our bodies naturally produce more inflammatory agents. While this is a natural part of the aging process, we can protect ourselves by reducing the number of inflammatory agents in our system. 

2. It Can Fight Free-Radical Damage

Quantum water can also fight free-radical damage by strengthening your immune system. The nature of this “molecular water” creates a superoxide radical, a powerful antioxidant, making it a powerful agent for fighting free radicals. While this isn’t the only way a quantum water bottle can help protect your body from free radical damage, it is one of the most significant advantages of this product. When exposed to harmful toxins, such as pesticides and chemical agents, which many of us are, they can cause damage to your body. Free radicals are the by-product of this damage and can lead to illness, aging, and death.

3. It’s Good For Your Skin And Hair

Many of us drink water to stay healthy and hydrated, but did you know that drinking water can also keep your skin and hair healthy? Water is essential for preventing premature aging, which is why we recommend drinking enough of it every day. Your skin can become dry, dull, and irritated when you don’t drink enough water. When you’re dehydrated, your body naturally pulls moisture from your skin. It pushes it towards your organs, leaving your skin feeling dry, so staying hydrated is essential. Water also helps your hair follicles retain moisture, preventing hair loss. When dehydrated, your body naturally pulls water away from your hair, making it look thin and brittle. Drinking enough water can reduce hair loss and prevent hair from breaking, which can later help delay severe hair loss.

4. It Can Help With Weight Loss

When you drink enough water, you naturally flush out toxins from your body, which can help with weight loss. When your body is healthy, it can adequately metabolize and process nutrients, which can help with weight loss. When your body is less toxic, it can focus more on burning fat rather than just trying to remove the toxins from your body, which can help speed up the weight loss process.

5. Help In Digestion

The unique water from drinking quantum water has been found to help digestion. Many people with digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease have found that drinking water with ions has helped them with their health issues. It has been found that the water has a neutral pH level which is very beneficial in digestion. It can also help with any stomach pain.

Conclusion

When it comes to your health, you should always be aware of the dangers of consuming toxins. Luckily, with a quantum water bottle, you can protect yourself from harmful toxins while enjoying the many health benefits of drinking more water.

Blog Posted In Tech

Transcription for Academic Purposes: The Complete Guide


By | source: Aug 22nd, 2022

Transcription for academic purposes can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a breeze. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about transcriptions for school projects, research, and beyond. 

We’ll start with the basics of what transcription is and how it’s used, then move on to specific tips and tricks for getting the most out of your transcripts. By following our guide, you’ll be able to transcribe any document with ease!Read More

Blog Posted In Education, Lifestyle

Things You Should Know Before Signing a Prenup (2022)


By | source: Aug 19th, 2022

Despite being frowned upon and viewed negatively in society, a prenup is actually a useful and legitimate contract that clearly sets out what happens in case of the death of one spouse or separation of a married couple. 

Though it is still not the best topic to talk about before marriage, you would be wise to raise the subject. But there are things that you should know before signing a prenup and that is exactly what this article will educate you about. Read More

Blog Posted In Health, Lifestyle, Recreation

Top 8 Safety Tips to Follow When Riding a Bike on a Busy Road


By | source: Aug 9th, 2022

Cycling is a wonderful activity with many advantages. Most cyclists enjoy being outside, getting some workout, and taking in the view. On the contrary, cycling on the road can be risky. In the case of a crash with a motor vehicle, you are more likely to sustain injuries if you are a cyclist. When cycling on roadways, it’s crucial to abide by some fundamental safety precautions to keep yourself safe.Read More

Blog Posted In Education, Health

Construction Injury Rates In 2022


By | source: May 10th, 2022

The construction industry ranks second in the United States for fatal injuries to workers under the age of 18, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Since one in ten workers is injured each year, these figures are not a surprise. Working in construction can be dangerous even if safety precautions are taken. Construction is a necessary part of life, especially as it relates to the growth of sustainable cities and communities. It is important to know the risks and the laws of the industry, and know the best practices to follow to avoid injuries.Read More