Information graphics often known simply as infographics are graphic visual representations of information or data intended to present information quickly and clearly to the viewer. The process of creating infographics is sometimes referred to as data visualization, information design and information architecture.
Infographics are all over, we see them in newspapers displaying the weather, on social media sites such as Facebook and twitter and on the maps of the London underground, they surround us and allow important information to be communicated with the public at a speed appropriate to the surroundings in a way everyone can understand.
William Playfair born in 1759 referred to as ‘’The Birth of Infographics” in Simon Rodgers’ book ‘Facts are sacred’ (Page 12, Facts are sacred – Simon Rodgers published 2013 by Faber and Faber Limited) invented four types of diagrams: in 1786 he invented the line graph and bar chart and in 1801 the pie chart and circle graph. Playfair argues that charts communicated better than tables of data. Playfair’s work is well respected as being the beginning of visually communicating data in this way, the charts he invented have clearly influenced the successful infographics we see everywhere today as many of his charts and graphs are used, and have shaped the way some information is recorded.
Simon Rodgers refers to infographics as data journalism in his book ‘Facts are sacred’. Rodgers explains to the reader that the way we show information has changed, not too long ago facts, statistics and figures were only shown in very expensive books, now everyone can access facts in various different formats from their own smartphone. The way we present information has developed appropriate to the times, while we know access most information from out laptops and phones, information therefore has to be compatible in a way that infographics are. Infographics heavily been designed from computers while published in newspapers, magazines and posters can also be accessed and displayed on the internet for the public to view at any time.
The shapes, colours and layouts used in infographics aid in their quick, clear presentation. The chosen fonts used are often basic clear fonts such as Calibri (Body) or Times New Roman, fonts everyone can easily read and understand, especially in situations where they don’t have much time such as on a train station platform. The type is always clearly presented, either black on white or white on black. Chosen colours in infographics are often bright, bold colours that will get viewers’ attention and stand out against white or black backgrounds. Like everything else, the shapes used in infographics are bold clear shapes that are universally recognisable such as circles and rectangles to easily display data. While some infographics use only shapes and type to display this information, images and symbols are often used too. In magazine or newspaper spreads appropriate images to the information are often added, aiding in communicating what subject the information is about. Symbols used in infographics are other methods of representing a certain place or object to the viewer’s such as symbols for toilets or exits in an underground station.
Infographics are all around us and often go unnoticed, they help us go about our everyday lives in the forms of maps and clearly explain to us the world news in magazines and newspapers. They are an incredibly successful form of communicating with society and are applicable to many different situations and forms.
Images from – ‘Facts are sacred’ – Simon Rodgers