All The Buzz: Infographics
As a visual communication device, pioneered by statistician Edward Tufte, the new infographics lend themselves to the simplified representation of complex data or relationships. But the real power of the infographic lies in its ability to quickly communicate almost anything in an engaging, relevant and compelling image that relies on clever visual representations rather than dense sub-text.
Infographics are endlessly variable in their design and formatting potential. Layout, page orientation and style are limited only by a designer's creativity and command of software. Successful infographics deliver multiple benefits to brand and audience, especially in enhancing the user experience through the efficient communication of ideas, and positive brand image reinforcement.
Like any visual communication tool, creating outstanding infographics may seem a daunting challenge, especially as the infographic floodgates open wide, but their premise is simple: design something engaging and relevant that will resonate with your audience. The design process must begin with a message / communication in mind before proceeding to symbolic and aesthetic development. Once clear on message and mission -- how to complete a task, improve one's knowledge or simplify a concept -- you are on the way to creating an infographic with impact.
Obviously the delivery platform plays a key role in how infographics will be received. As an example, infographics intended for use on the internet are generally more effective in portrait orientation, which takes advantage of the standard web design functionality, such as scrolling and zooming. Infographics in print pose their own distinct challenges due to their typical space and time-to-read demands.
Motion graphics and animation are beginning to appear in infographics, promising an even more compelling viewer experience that integrates narrative with illustrations, data visualizations, and kinetic text. Such multi-media infographics have a promising future as teaching aids, which can walk viewers through an explanation or process, while convincingly presenting targeted messaging that brings brand information to life on any screen.
So is the investment in this new "art form" worth it? Marketers seeking to measure the ROI of infographics face some challenges. Perhaps the easiest, and currently best, measure is traffic driven to a website or an increase in calls from prospective customers. But infographics can also deliver an important brand-building dimension that can enhance a company's reputation through transparency and clarity of communications.
The key to improving one's infographic ROI is to embed them throughout one's owned media assets, starting with your website and its social buttons, then expanding their reach through online publications, email out-reach, PR materials, and integration into offline marketing campaigns. If the infographic is topical and engaging, it will be shared and, who knows, may even go viral.
Still, despite the growing chorus the infographic remains an underused marketing tool. However, as consumers' attention to traditional advertising continues to decline, especially among the visually sophisticated digital generations, new communication methods must evolve and infographics surely belong in a savvy marketer's tool kit.