29 January 2014

Making infographics awesome

Read about a survey, and you often see an associated illustration that summarises the key statistics next to it. These 'infographics' offer an eye-catching snippets that make it easier to digest the numbers. Many are created with graphics that have some bearing on the theme, making them even more memorable. 

Lewis Chu, Founder of ODDO, a media marketing and motion design company, observed that infographics have become more common in recent years, especially in the government sector. 

"Government organisations tap on infographics now to transmit information to the public rather than have their messages lost in translation through text alone," he said. 

"Infographics allow information to be broken down into bite sizes with the use of visuals, illustration, animation, and typography," said Chu. "People can take in simple visuals much more easily than a wall of text. It's definitely friendlier and more memorable. The key is simplicity and making it fun."

Chu said infographics are a better way of conveying statistics than using text alone. "The layman will not be able to understand lengthy numerical breakdowns, but if we place an illustration or animation of how the statistics impact their personal life, it triggers an association in a light-hearted manner," he said. "The designer's role is to digest the information and bridge the gap between the information provider and the target audience."

Chan Chi-Loong, Founder, V/R, pronounced 'v slash r', a digital content agency, agreed that the story-telling is important. "A great infographic is not just about design but a logical flow of ideas represented visually," he said. 

"I would say it involves two distinct content skill sets: storytelling and copy, and also visual design elements. Infographics involve research, designing the flow of the story, copywriting, incorporating data as part of the story, if any, and then putting it together in a visually appealing layout."

Source: Infographics.SG
Darius Chua, Co-founder, Infographics.SG, also focused on the story-telling aspect as well as the copy and the design, but added that 'shareability' is important too.  

"In brief, for an infographic to be successful, we think it has got to have good data or information; design; story or flow, and shareability," he said.

Some golden rules, Chua said, include:
  • Show, not tell
  • Typography should not be a crutch
  • Visualise the hook
Infographics.SG has actually created an infographic on what makes an awesome infographic, reproduced on the right.

Chu focuses on animated infographics, which has different challenges from creating the '2D' versions seen on paper or the '3D' versions online, which feature relatively little animation.

"Animated infographics marry multiple disciplines and media, including music, sound design, animation, film aesthetics, graphic design and typography. The whole is greater than sum of its parts.

"While it's about trying to come up with smooth transitions and visual flows while making sure that the information gets across, it's also a matter of consulting and brainstorming with clients as much as possible, and to think like a lay person would," he said.

A representative video from ODDO can be viewed below:

Source: ODDO