Data Visualization / Infographic

The Dual Purpose of Infographics: Explore and Present

Ipad being used to present multiple graphs

The hallmark of a truly excellent story is its ability to capture the attention of many different types of readers. The same is true of your data stories – especially the ones told with visualizations. Whether you’re using a pie chart, a table or a scatterplot, you’re using your data to communicate a message. Unfortunately, traditional visualization methods only speak to a portion of your audience.

Data visualization tools like charts and graphs have typically fallen into one of two categories:

  • Presentation – Useful for displaying the results and established insights from data, but not well-suited for finding new insights. Pie charts, bar charts and tables fall into this category.
  • Exploration – Oriented towards finding new insights, and not towards readability, exploration charts have typically been unfriendly to viewers who are not data-minded. Scatterplots are an example of exploration charts.

While both types of charts play an important role in the use of data for decision making, they tend to create a division in who can use them, and that limits the reach of the story your data could be telling.

The solution is a visualization medium that speaks to both audiences – and that’s where infographics come in.

Infographics Present Data in Ways that are Easy to Explore

For a long time, data visualizations were controlled by an unwritten rule: The denser and more detailed the information, the more that information needed to be simplified and explained for general audiences. That rule lead to simplistic visualizations that focused exclusively on highlighting a conclusion that was already made.

Because infographics are data visualizations that blend exploration with presentation to display complex information, they are the solution to this challenge. Infographics give your audience the ability to explore data and draw their own conclusions, without automatically needing the background necessary to understand where or how the data was sourced.

Infographics that Explore and Present Require Specialization

An effective infographic presents not just results, but contains the “story” of your data that can be understood by all members of your target audience. However, telling a complex data story is a difficult matter. An infographic must not only be visually appealing, but organize and display data in a way that allows for exploration.

To accomplish this duality, your infographic needs to be created by a specialized team. Your infographic team should include data analysts and information designers to best tell the story behind your data. These team members have the unique skills and experience to understand the data and present it in a visually compelling manner. This combination is critical to creating a visualization that is more than just an image with data in it, but a compelling infographic that your audience can learn from.

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