An infographic is a representation of facts, figures, and data in attractive visual format which is easily digestible in a glance. Infographics breathe life into sheets of boring facts and mundane numbers by transforming them into a colorful and memorable form. Humans process and retain far more information visually compared to reading lists of numbers or stacks of statistics. We’re hardwired that way.
But as the information superhighway becomes more and more jammed with traffic, basic infographics may not be enough to compete for the diminishing attention span of the masses. When static infographics struggle to stand out amid the millions of images vying for attention, it’s time to take the game to the next level. Enter animated infographics. The human eye immediately responds to motion. Take your data, jazz it up with images, and animate the infographic for maximum impact.
The Animated Advantage
Animated infographics are an economic alternative to adding video content. They don’t require a massive production budget, lights, cameras, and a studio to produce the action. Enlist the aid of a graphic designer to turn your facts and figures into flights of fancy, or choose from several available programs to design your own animated infographic. Another advantage of animated infographics over video is the file size. You can post them directly to your own website without using YouTube or another middle-media site.
Another thing to consider is the the complexity of your data and the ability to render that data into visual form. Data charts, graphs, and process infographics are great for representing basic ideas, but complex ideas and large amounts of data may need some motion to capture and hold a reader’s attention. A single animated infographic may contain a few or many moving parts, with each one representing a different portion of important data.
A great example of of a successful animated infographic is the Cheetah infographic by Jacob O’Neal. A simple textbook sketch of a cheetah springs to life in the animated page, allowing us to gaze at the graceful design of nature’s speed machine. Another section of the graphic features a speedometer twitching along with the 0-60 speed of exotic sports cars. The Ferrari Enzo loses to the cheetah by a neck. A wealth of zoological data is cleverly presented in several animated sections, each with a life of its own.
Cheetah infographic by Jacob O’Neal
A Kick in the SEO
If readers are more engaged in your content, they will share it. The more shares, the higher the chance the content will go viral, which means a major boost in site traffic. Static infographics already enjoy a big boost in views, shares, and re-shares due to their visual elements. The human brain automatically discards most of the massive amount of data we are exposed to constantly. Visual presentations grab our attention, and moving visual presentations like video and animated infographics kick it up a notch.
The marketing magic created by infographics is a current trend, and animated infographics are the future. Hubspot.com crunches the marketing numbers and presents all the facts and figures to illustrate how animated infographics boost your SEO in measurable ways. And the data is perfectly illustrated with infographics. Combined with fresh content, your animated infographic will add both entertainment value to your presentation, fun to your facts, and all-important SEO juice for your site.
Moving On Up
Maybe you are fully familiar with static infographics and even have a nice collection of your own. Don’t worry, you don’t have to trash your infographics and start afresh with any newfangled technology. Recycle your best infographics by animating them. Take your existing brilliant idea and spice it up by adding some moving parts. Updating your existing content keeps it fresh and makes it more relevant. An animated infographic uses a variety of means to achieve the motion, but animated gifs are the most common way to move it.
Everyone is familiar with those cute little animated gifs flooding your favorite social media channels. They are so effective because they grab your attention, make you smile, and beg you to share them with everyone. Those looped images form a simple animated gif. To add motion to your infographic you will be animating sections of your infographic with a single or a series of animated gifs.
First, look at your existing infographic to see which elements can be animated. In the case of a cheetah or a page of butterflies, legs beg to run and wings want to flap. Even without animals to animate, you can still take your static data to a new level by animating key components. Make a number from a chart zoom from zero to 10,000 or rocket a red line through the roof of the chart.
If you are starting from scratch with a new idea and a new data set, you will need to spend some quality time in the planning stage, just as with a static infographic. Choose the best type of infographic to best convey your data in an entertaining way. The best type of materials suitable for animation are tutorials, explainers, and process overviews.
A Visual Feast: Great Examples of Animated Infographics
How do you display your company’s annual report numbers in a way that doesn’t make viewers count sheep? The popular email marketing company MailChimp found a creative way to do just that. On a numerical journey from a single visit from a mariachi band to over 204 billion emails sent, MailChiimp’s 2015 annual report infographic uses great graphics, stock photos, and fun trivia to guide you on your downward scroll. Track the number of seconds it takes to skateboard the length of their office space, the number of new hires, and the hundreds of pounds of snacks and coffee beans consumed.
Eleanor Lutz designed a fantastic animated chart of 42 Butterflies of North America. The chart includes zoological data of each colorful butterfly, a shaded map of indigenous regions, and a symphony of flapping wings. No two butterflies in the chart flap their wings in the same tempo, which means they were animated one at a time. Lutz also provides an animated infographic on how she made the chart in Photoshop. She also designed a great animated process infographic illustrating the stages of human development from fertilization to birth, titled “How to Build a Human.”
The next phase in visual marketing is interactive animated infographics. Animated infographics are a collection of animated pieces functioning inside of an infographic, while interactive infographics let the viewer steer the action. The “Species In Pieces” infographic by Bryan James is moving in more ways than one. The plight of 30 endangered species comes to life with animated shapes forming each animal as you click to the next on the list. Look for the sound icon on the left to either “Beautify With Sound” or “Get That Racket Off.”
Another great interactive infographic invites fans of 007 and classic cars to scroll through the years to view all of the super spy’s super rides in “Bond: License to Drive.” Thrilling illustrations drive you to scroll through the automotive history of the Bond franchise, from Aston Martin and Bentley to Lotus and BMW. Aston Martins make up the bulk of the canon. Wait. In the early 70s, is that an AMC Hornet?
Take some time to look at the best infographics the web has to offer for inspiration, ideas, or even examples of what not to do.
Programs to Make Your Own Animated Infographics
Animated infographic by Craig Robinson
There are several online programs available for you to try your hand at making animated infographics. Most offer free and paid versions, and most offer templates to edit or options to build your own video from scratch. Whichever option you choose, avoid the temptation to use audio unless absolutely necessary. Many viewers are turned off by sudden blasts of music coming out of their speakers. In fact, 85 percent of Facebook users watch video content with the sound off.
Biteable offers a free cloud-based software solution for those looking to jump right into the animation game feet first. Sign up for a free account and immediately start to set your ideas in motion. Pick an existing template which best expresses your idea and begin the editing process. The fastest way to edit a template is to add your own text to the existing video template. Once finished, click “preview” to see the results. More complicated videos with many cut scenes take several minutes to process.
You can also design your own video from scratch with Biteable. Once you have saved your video, you have the option to share the free watermarked video publicly for free. Removing the watermark or downloading your content requires a premium subscription for $8.25 per month.
Animaker is another great tool for creating your own animated infographics. Sign up for a free account and gain immediate access to a wide variety of tools and templates. Open up a template to explore and create your scene, timeline, library, and workspace. Once your template is open in the Animaker workspace, you can add or delete scenes, objects, and elements from any part of the infographic to make it your own. A good place to start is to click the musical note icon on the bottom of the screen, double click the default track, and delete that noise.
Once you have stripped the basic templates of their bells and whistles, you can start to personalize the design. You can also start with a blank canvas on which to create your own animated infographic from scratch. Select background colors, add or upload images and more. Click characters to select males, females, animals, and others to drag and drop them into your scene. The elements in the Animaker library of objects, music, and sound effects are each labeled for free or premium use. Premium subscriptions are $12, $19, and $39 per month.
Visme is a great online tool for making infographics and animating them as well. Create a free account to begin exploring the vast library of objects, colors, themes, and templates available for immediate use. Design your own from scratch or get a quick leg up with one of Visme’s customizable templates. Create up to three projects totaling 100 MB of storage and download them as a jpg or png file for free. To access the full scope of available tools, choose a standard subscription for $10 per month or a complete subscription for $20 per month.
Try your creative hand at one of the many tools available to turn your cold hard facts into hot new ways to communicate. If the task seems too daunting, most of the graphics software companies mentioned above offer creative team services for professional business marketing.
The Final Cut
Whether you choose to make your own animated infographics or prefer to hire competent, experienced professionals, you can rest assured that your marketing and site traffic will benefit from following the latest tech trends in the graphic content marketing industry. But don’t rely on images alone. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but using the right combination of words and images is worth much more.
It’s also important to remember to optimize your infographics for SEO. Since they are technically just groups of images, search engines can’t “read” them and rank them as easily as plain text. Fortunately, there is a lot of information on the internet to help with these tasks. If you are web design savvy, this can be as simple as remembering to use alt text and matching your infographic file name to the keywords in the infographic itself. A file name like Acme-Annual-Report-infographic.png will squeeze more Google juice than the generic image00001.png.
Once you have your infographic ready, write a few hundred supporting words to accompany your graphic piece. Combined with the drawing power of animated graphics and a good turn of the keyword phrase, your content may get shared enough to go viral. And in the Digital Age of changing Google algorithms and thousands of competitors, a graphic edge will help you make the final cut.