Use Infographics to Show Historic Changes

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

In creating your infographics, you can use the data to tell a story of change over time. For example, the biggest cause of death of Americans since 1921 is heart disease (see the figure), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In that same time frame, pneumonia and influenza (combined) fell from the second-leading cause of death to ninth.

The riddle is discovering why. Did humans suddenly become less susceptible to such infections or more susceptible to other infections? Or did something else intervene?

Of course, scientists have developed effective treatments that have vastly improved doctors’ abilities to treat and cure those conditions. Now, a bout of pneumonia is no longer a death sentence for most people.

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Any major shift over time should prompt you to ask, “Why?” On the 2011 list of causes of death, you can see multiple conditions usually related to age: cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Is this change related to longer lifespans? More exposure to toxins in the environment?

And note that premature birth dropped off the list entirely. Is that thanks to better family planning or better obstetric care overall? Suicide is now a leading cause of death. Are U.S. citizens becoming more depressed people? Considering historical developments can help you shape the infographic you’re presently working on and generate ideas for future projects.

Asking “Why?” is how you find the story in this sort of data. The answers you discover can help you turn your infographic into an engrossing picture of historic changes that your reader can pore over at length. The feeling your reader gets of being both educated and entertained is one of the main charms of a great infographic.