5 Underrated Uses of Infographics

The world of infographics is changing so quickly that it’s imperative to stay on top of new developments in the content, use, design, and technology that drives them. Whether you’re creating infographics for one client or many, for profit or an altruistic cause, you always want to stay true to the infographic’s ultimate aim: Make a complex idea simple and use attractive design to present a clear message.

Viral topics for infographics

The exciting possibility always exists for an infographic to go viral. To date, many of the graphics that have swept the web originated from a newspaper, an online news site, or a blog.

Well, what if you jumped right around the middle man? The days of artists and writers relying on a certain publication or periodical to present content are done. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

With an established publication, the goal is mass distribution of content that appeals to a general audience. Working on your own, you can target your work however you like — which can potentially free you up to jump on topics that you know will intrigue readers.

In the most recent Winter Olympics, slopestyle skiing emerged as the hottest new sport, with various tricks to challenge the athletes and amaze the audience. An infographic breaking down the tricks would have undoubtedly gone viral during the Olympic season. You should be prepared to seize on topics like this.

It’s probably a more practical way to get published these days than waiting for an editor to say “yes.” It just takes one reader, sparked by your information, to forward your infographic and light a blaze of interest.

Social media for infographics

Remember the importance of making your infographics easy to share on social media. Going forward, social media could be your main calling card as an infographic designer.

Consider Facebook, with its wide and deep top banner. That banner could be a magnificent stage for an infographic. We’ve seen infographics in use as wedding information pages and résumé. With a bit of research and a little art, you could create a platform for you, your cause, or your business and then use that Facebook banner to share it with all your contacts.

Of course, Facebook also makes sharing content easy, so if one of your readers likes your stuff, he can pass it along with a click of the mouse.

Immersive interactive graphics

Virtual-reality graphics and educational tools have been around for a while. Technology is improving all the time, allowing readers to feel truly immersed in their experience.

Video games have been the first frontier of virtual-reality graphics. Going forward, some of the technology that has brought virtual-reality video games tantalizingly close to consumers will undoubtedly bring infographics to new dimensions.

Whether the graphics are meant for education or entertainment, the possibilities are exciting.

Naturally, this type of technology will come with a steep learning curve, and will probably be cost-prohibitive for many designers — but there was a time people said that about personal computers. Stay tuned.

Print media for infographics

Print isn’t dead, but it’s certainly troubled. Going forward, the best way for any media entity to survive will be to strengthen the ties between print, online, and even augmented-reality content.

Think about one potential scenario. Imagine that you’ve won an assignment from a national news magazine to depict current Army training strategies. You design a stunning, well-researched piece that takes up a full page in the magazine. Nicely done.

But that’s not enough for the new media landscape. You will probably be asked to create a web version of the graphic, too. Perhaps that version will add a few interactive features, like a scroll bar that lets the reader travel back in time to read about military training in the past. Maybe there’s embedded data that provides information about the military experience in nations around the world. Again, nice work.

The media company benefits by linking its content in one form to all the other forms, enhancing readers’ experience and enticing them to come back for more. Pretty exciting stuff.

Presentation tools for infographics

Have you ever sat through a year-end sales report from an executive who droned on and on without a single break, churning out number after number without a single visual cue?

Most people have been there, but infographics can — and should — play an increasing role in making presentations like that a relic.

First of all, even the driest oral presentation can usually benefit from graphic aids. For example, a bar graph showing a company’s sales figures for the past five years is way more effective than a mere recitation of numbers.

Secondly, it’s not too hard to actually put graphics to work in your presentation. Say you’re using presentation software (PowerPoint or Keynote) to illustrate those sales figures. As you’re standing in front of your audience presenting your report, why not show the bars of that graph one at a time, with a new year’s information in each slide? Each portion of the presentation is a piece of the overall infographic.

Using basic office presentation software is never effective if it’s used simply as a text-driven recitation of fact. Integrating infographics is an effective way to capture your audience's attention, and the applications are endless in business, technology, education, and more.

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