The future of design: Infographics

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An infographic about infographics
Source: Zabisco

It wasn’t long ago that graphic designers had to make a key decision – take on web design, or leave it to other people. I’ll give you one guess which design companies thrived in the years that followed, and which ones had to pack up shop.

Fast forward a few years and social media arrived, bringing with it a whirlwind of madness and pressure for businesses in every sector to keep up to date with the web. I now work in a design company that boasts ‘maintenance of social media’ as one of its key selling points; small businesses that are unsure how to use these platforms hand the responsibility to us, and we tweet, update facebook and blog on their behalf. We are chosen because the clients already know us and our work, and trust that we will keep brand consistency. In short, they want their Twitter page to be an extension of a business card and letterhead.

So what madness is engulfing the design world now? One word: Infographics.

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Infographics can turn a complicated idea into a relatable concept
Source: Good Magazine 

Freelance illustrators and graphic designers already have an edge if they can create infographics. But first of all, perhaps an overview is needed for those less familiar with the concept.

An infographic literally means a graphic visual representation displaying information, data or facts, presenting complex information quickly and clearly, using symbols and colours. The simplest form of infographic is a roadmap or mind map, and you probably had infographic posters way back at school (or not so way back for some of you) displaying information on the solar system or geography to help you absorb information when you weren’t listening to the teacher. Dull? Today’s infographics are anything but dull, and compete against each other in interesting and creative ways, making the most yawn-inducing statistics look fresh and enticing.

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The graphic designers among you may recognise the thought behind this tongue in cheek infographic
Source: Colin Harman 

Why are these diagrams so popular? Infographics can:
• Make a difficult concept relatable
• Bring perspective to a global situation and evoke empathy
• Advertise
• Entertain
• Educate
• Tell a story
• Turn boring figures into interesting facts

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Some infographics appear to merely entertain, but are actually an advertising strategy
Source: Sonos

Businesses are interested in the ability of infographics to sell products, ideas and concepts in a way that is memorable and effective. They draw attention to a service or brand, and are often shared and embedded in people’s Tumblr and Blogger accounts, meaning the message is often spread virally.

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An infographic map that tells a story of the highs and lows of creativity
Source: Virus Comix

However, there has been criticism that too many infographics are made for the sheer sake of it – that many contain little or irrelevant information, with a focus on decorative layout rather than problem-solving. (See pointless dull infographics and infographic-infographics.) In my view, The best ones approach a problem in a way that effectively condenses and delivers the key information; not the ones that are simply pretty. So if you decide to make them, do your research and produce infographics you are proud of.

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Infographics can educate as well as entertain
Source: livinginthestills.tumblr.com 

Does the future of graphic design lie in infographics, or are they a passing fad? Ingenious or overdone?  If you want to explore infographics further, I recommend adding this link to your reading list, and have a look at this tutorial for techniques using Adobe Illustrator.

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About Madeleine

Illustrator and Graphic Designer
This entry was posted in Graphic Design and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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