Making Complex Data Simple with Infographics

Sharing complex data in an engaging way is a tall order for many marketers and content creators. Rather than relying on text-based descriptions alone, incorporate visual effects into your content. Not only will you hold your readers’ attention longer, but you’ll also tell better stories. Discover how to simplify high-level data and increase its impact with infographics and data visualizations.

Boost Credibility With Charts

Image via Flickr by KamiPhuc

As mobile devices continue to grow in popularity, and information bombards online users just about every moment of the day, it’s increasingly important to design content that stands out. If your data is bogged down by wordy descriptions and lengthy blocks of text, your audience might never make it to the meat of your content. Even if they do, the content might not stick.

Keep in mind that text requires much more time to process, even for speed readers. In fact, the average person can process visual information 60,000 times faster than they can muddle through text. Since an overwhelming 90 percent of the information that the typical person’s brain processes is visual in nature, incorporating visualizations into content is critical for marketers.

Charts are ideal for visualizing raw data, which often struggles to capture the attention of even the most interested audiences. To boost the credibility of your content, use reliable data and chart it in a visually appealing way. To make sure your data really shines, be sure to choose the right type of chart. Pie charts, for instance, show the proportion of parts to the whole, while treemaps are better for organizing data into a hierarchy.

Show Scale With Graphs

Conveying a large amount of information based on numbers sounds straightforward enough. Talking about numbers in an abstract sense, however, can turn off readers who struggle to comprehend what those numbers really mean.

When you want to demonstrate how groups of numbers compare to one another, graphs are the perfect fit. By converting the number of lines of code from a variety of apps, games, and tech innovations into a bar graph, Information Is Beautiful helps its audience comprehend just how complex some programs are. For example, a basic smartphone app requires only a fraction of the code that the average space shuttle needs to operate. Reading that information in print has a limited impact. Seeing the data in graph form helps readers appreciate the true scale of the information.

Reveal Relationships With Maps

Maps aren’t always the most complex forms of data visualization, but they’re great for conveying relationships and revealing trends. For instance, maps are a smart way to demonstrate changes over time. Show static maps side by side to reveal how environments have changed over decades or centuries, and help readers comprehend areas that have had the most impact.

Upgrade your visualization game with an animated map, which gives you the power to combine multiple images into one. If you want to convey the path a phenomenon has taken across a geographic area, for instance, an animated map is one of the most effective ways to do so.

The Map of the Internet takes the idea one step further, playing on the concept of a traditional map by revealing ideas in a new way. On the Map of the Internet, each website becomes a circle, and the amount of traffic it receives determines the size. The extent to which each website relates to the others defines its position on the map. Not only does the Map of the Internet help readers identify the most influential websites in the world, it also allows them to visualize relationships between major websites in a way that textual descriptions can’t.

Tell Stories With Infographics

While charts, graphs, and maps can reveal a lot, not all data visualizations are quite so straightforward. When you need to tell a story about complex data, opt for a visually compelling infographic. Much more than a series of lines, bars, or points, infographics turn data into images.

When designing an infographic, resist the temptation to make it as complex as your data. Instead, establish a logical flow, display information in an uncluttered way, and get strategic in terms of color and position. Since just about every element of an infographic can tell a story, thinking carefully about each component is critical.

Keep in mind that while there are numerous tools to help you create infographics, not all will actually enhance your content. Converting data into visualizations isn’t always easy, and infographics that misinterpret or misrepresent data will compromise your content. For best results, consider outsourcing your visualization to an experienced infographic designer.

Involve Your Audience With Interactives

If your data has a really compelling story to tell, there’s no reason to limit yourself with static infographics. Instead, take your visualizations to the next level with interactives. These visualizations are adept at pulling in your audience and revealing more customized stories based on user input.

In the increasingly visual online landscape, interactives help content stand out even more. Not only does interactivity draw more attention, it also has more staying power. Your audience will only remember a fraction of most of the information they consume online. When they have a hand in making the data appear or in creating the visualization, their ability to commit the data to memory increases.

Increase Engagement With Videos

Videos have truly taken off in recent years, and online users now spend a full 100 percent more time on webpages that contain videos than they do on pages with no video content. If you want to make an impact with your visual content, increase audience engagement, and drive additional conversions, video has proven to be an excellent hook.

Whether you need to express data, demonstrate a concept, or explain something with more than words, video can be a great choice. To make the greatest impact with this type of content, consider providing the script and outsourcing animation or illustration. This can give your video a professional look while conveying your concept in a highly engaging way.

From charts to infographics to videos, data visualizations take your content to the next level. Develop the right types of visualizations for your content, and you’ll engage your audience in new, impactful ways.

About the author

Anna Sonnenberg

Anna Sonnenberg is an experienced writer and editor who focuses on digital marketing, travel, and natural products — but rarely all at once. With a background in research and the arts, Anna has a solid sense of the art of storytelling, along with a drive to gather the supporting data.