This Infographic from Buzzfeed is one of the best I’ve seen, and a perfect example of why and how engaging infographics work.
First, it takes information that, if it was presented in a written article, would simply be a list of easily forgotten statistics and turns it into an image that’s interesting and pleasing to look at. Many people, for example, if they read an article comparing characters on Game of Thrones with the most screen time verses characters with the least screen time, would most certainly find their eyes glazing over from all the numbers. I know I would. Yes, pure statistics have their place – but this infographic presents all the statistics in a way that is engaging, fun to look at, and all in one place – and it doesn’t change the nature of the statistical information – which is vitally important.
Second, as noted in the previous paragraph, the infographic presents the statistics in a non-judgmental way. Going by time on-screen only, Tyrion Lannister is the most popular character, followed by Daenerys, followed by a tie between Robb Stark and Jon Snow. However, the information is presented two ways – the actual screen time in minutes and seconds, and the size of the figures – with characters with more screen time physically bigger and characters with less physically smaller. Thus, the graphic is understandable on any size screen. The numbers are also legible, even on a smartphone screen. However, this graphic, importantly, does not draw any conclusions whatsoever about Game of Thrones from screen time. This is good.
Too often statistics are reported in error to make a point, especially popular research information. There is a difference between causality (this causes that) and correlation (these two facts come up together often but one doesn’t cause the other). There is also a difference between scientific research including double blind studies, and public opinion polls (which can be easily rigged in several ways – such as writing questions in such a way that a certain response is given the most often and then reporting not the question but the response; or limiting responses to two polar opposite choices; or even only polling people in a certain area – where a specific response is expected.) In addition, public opinion polls often fail to include plus/minus accuracy factors, methodology, full wording of questions, etc. (I actually worked for a public opinion telephone survey company one Summer – the wording of questions would shock you, especially if you have any background in science. And I have two master of science degrees as well. I’ve done empirical research.)
Some basics for putting together Infographics
1. Decide what information you want to convey. Make it simple but also useful.
2. When designing your infographic – make it legible. If your audience can’t read it, it doesn’t do any good.
3. Make sure your Infographic says what you meant and it isn’t misleading by graphics or content.
4. Don’t have content that conflicts with images or vice versa.
5. Save your Infographic as a .jpg but make it the centerpiece of an article or blog post with additional information. Think of the graphic as a quick “cheat sheet” but the article as the lesson.
6. Use good pictures or graphics. If you are a company or business, be wary of copyright issues.
7. Have fun! Who said statistics and learning have to be boring?