Thursday, 1 October 2015

Thing 21: Creating Infographics

We have all heard the phrase, ‘a picture says a thousand words’ and I’ll wager that we have all been struck by an image that we have seen that conveys and explains something complex in a very easy way. That’s infographics.

From libraryconnect.elsevier.com
Graphs, pictures, diagrams and even timelines are infographics and more and more frequently they are being used as a marketing tool on-line and in the media. They are a useful way to convey data in an easily readable and digestible format that is also visually pleasing.

Infographics have evolved over time to become not only an efficient way to convey information but also as an art form. Often the design and layout of an infographic is just as important to message being conveyed as the content or data within.

International campaigns such as UNESCO International Literacy Day use infographics to highlight important world issues.

Many conferences today offer the opportunity to present at poster sessions and an infographic is the perfect way to present you project or idea to a large audience in a short time-frame.

Creating infographics is a skill however that takes a bit of practice. We are lucky that as Information Professionals, we already have the data and the skills to categorise it and make it easy to follow. All that is left to do is to work a bit of magic to make the data come alive visually.


Thankfully there are a few free online tools available to us to make the last part a bit easier. In this post I am going to recommend two: Easel.ly and Piktochart


Easel.ly and Piktochart 

 Both web tools are very similar so it will be down to personal preference as to which one you chose to use. Both provide the option to create for free and also to upgrade to a pro account.

I use the free version of Easel.ly which allows me to download my creations as a jpg or a PDF.  The free version of Piktochart only allows users to download their creations as jpgs, you have to upgrade to download as PDFs

I have a paid subscription to Piktochart and that allows me to use many more features including a wide array of themes and fonts. I can export the images that I create without the dreaded watermarks that are a feature of many trial or ‘standard’ free packages.


Example of a good infograph. Source Flickr.com

 How to produce a ‘good’ infographic

 A good infographic should stand out because of its simplicity and its ability to communicate a simple message in a very clear way. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating infographs:

 Infographics are better when they are simple so resist the urge to load up your poster or image with additional information that would be better in a separate infographic

  • Create an attention grabbing headline for your infographic
  • Know your audience and tailor the content like you would do in a presentation
  • Keep it simple - highlight key items in your data rather than displaying everything
  • Cite the sources of the data used in the infographic and check your facts
  • Keep it fun by using distinctive colours and illustrations


How to recognise a ‘bad’ infograph 
Example of a bad infograph. Source Wikipedia.org

  •  A cluttered layout with very little space
  • Clashing colours 
  • No obvious 'flow' to the order of the information or text
  • Too much text, and too much information appearing on one infograph 
Here is a link to a handy do-it-yourself on Infographics originally shared by The Daring Librarian. 



Many of us write reports that we know could be presented in a more appealing way. Using infographics as part of your presentation or to highlight some incredible achievement in your library could be the key to getting much needed funding at budget time.

Whether you are an experimenter, an educator, a connector, a creator or a beacon, why not try using some infographics next time you know your report needs some more vibrancy. Your readers will welcome the change and you will be proud to have used one of these new tools in your work. Demonstrating your proficiency with the latest technologies can often be the thing that gets you noticed at work.


 Your Tasks for Thing 21 Are:


Consider a report or something that you’re producing at work, or for your local community. Do you think an infographic would better represent the data? What impact would this have on your audience?

or

Try creating your own infograph using the free templates that come with one of the web tools mentioned. Pick an easy topic such as the stats from your blog or something fun like what you would do if you won the lottery.

Write a blog entry describing whether these new tools for presenting data are any more useful than the traditional combination of Excel and Powerpoint. Have you seen infographs used in an interesting way in libraries?

Take a look at our Pinterest board for Thing 21 Infographs for more ideas and futher reading.


Thing 21 Infographs was written by Michelle Breen, Librarian at University of Limerick, Ireland.

1 comment:

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