|Blend of the words information and graphic, the term indicates a visual representation of complex data or concepts through images, colours, graphs and illustrations. They are designed to make large amounts of complex data understandable ‘at a glance’; in fact, the visual element enhances the decoding and retention of the message. Well-designed infographics have perceptual, motivational, and cognitive characteristics that make them exceptionally valuable for instructional content, including improving:
This type of visual representation is used worldwide in every discipline and many examples can be found in our everyday environment, from street signs and underground maps, to weather charts and newspaper articles.
Types of Infographics
Traditionally, visualizations have included charts, maps or diagrams. Nowadays, infographics implement these elements with a creative and imaginative use of colorful icons and illustrations. There are several inspiring types of infographics; below are listed some of the most popular formats accessible online.
Overview of online tools for creating infographicsProvided below is an overview of the most popular online tools currently available to create infographics from different templates and customizable elements. Some of these tools come in two versions – free and proprietary. In general, free versions allow users, upon registration, to use basic templates and a limited set of graphic elements to create their infographic. Proprietary versions allow users to access a wider set of templates and functionalities.
|Venngage||Generic||Venngage is an online tool which allows users to create a big variety of products for free like animated and interactive infographics, reports, posters, promotions and social products. The platform is user-friendly and easy to use and the style modern and professional.
Users can create infographics based on available templates, icons and pictures with the possibility to publish, preview, share and download their content. Really interesting is the feature which allows to add interactive elements as quiz, poll and forms.
|Free version: It allows users to create visuals in a clear and professional way through the use of many sources such as icons and charts.
Paid version: With the Premium or Business plan users can also export their creative content in PNG, PNG HD and interactive PDF.
|Piktochart||Charts/Maps/Graphs||With a set of professional design tools, Piktochart helps users in designing presentations. They can combine themes, shapes, icons, vectors, text, interactive charts, maps, uploaded images and export charts. It allows also to directly import personal data or survey results and convert them into visuals.||Free version: it allows users to create simple and neat infographics based on 3 basic themes. It allows a maximum of 40 MB of uploading material with the possibility to export it only in pictures format but not in PDF.
Paid version: contains a high-quality range of templates and customizable elements; features a Drag-and-drop system that lets users easily insert images, icons, charts and graphics.
|Infogram||Interactive charts and maps||Online tool which enables users to convert data into infographics with a wide availability of effective icons, templates, charts and graphic tools.||Free version: it allows users to create infographics but with a limited number of features (10 projects, up to 2 maps and 2 images uploads)|
|Tableau Public||Generic||Desktop product that can be used to publish interactive data to the web. Once on the web, anyone can interact with the data, download it, or create their own visualizations from it. No programming skills are required.||Free|
|Google Public Data||Data sets||Service that lets users easily take public data -pulled from the US Census Bureau - and transform it into an infographic. Embedded charts and links can be updated automatically so users are always sharing the latest available data.||Free|
|Many Eyes||Data sets||It consists of a collection of data visualizations that can be viewed, modified and discussed with other users.||Free version: visualizations can be created only from existing data sets.
Paid version: members can upload their own data.
|Flux VFX||Video||It consists of a repository of templates created with Adobe After Effects that users can download. All photos/videos and text areas can be easily filled in with personal content.||Templates have to be paid for.|
|Stat Silk||Video||Tool for creating interactive maps using data available from their data sets.||Free|
|Hohli||Charts||Chart builder that allows the creation of a wide range of charts (e.g Venn diagrams, lines, bar and pie charts, scatter plots).||Free|
|Creately||Diagrams and charts||It lets users create diagrams and flow charts, which can be edited by multiple users at the same time thanks to its Online Collaboration feature. Available in two versions: online and desktop.||The desktop version needs a paying license.
Free online version: it offers a limited number of diagrams, users and collaborators. Paid online version: it allows group of people working on unlimited diagrams and projects.
|Cacoo||Diagrams||Drawing tool that allows users to create a variety of diagrams (e.g. site maps, wire frames, UML and network charts) and collaborate online with other editors. One of its best features is that it can be associated to your Google+ account to share diagrams during a live video chat in Google+ Hangouts.||Free version: it allows exporting only into PNG format for a maximum of 25 sheets; shared folders and editors are limited.
Paid versions: more services are available, as unlimited shared folders and editors.
|Vizify's Tweetsheet||Tool for monitoring Twitter activity. In a few seconds, it transforms a number of tweets, the most-retweeted posts, top followers, geographic impact and favorite themes into an infographic.||Free|
|Wordle||Wordle cloud||“Word clouds” generator from texts that users provide. It is possible to personalize the clouds with different fonts, layouts and color schemes. Users can print images out, save them to the Wordle gallery to share with others or embed them into blogs and websites.||Free|
|Easel.ly||Generic||Easy to use online tool to create infographics. The user can drag and drop a theme onto a canvas; insert images, icons and text boxes; customize sizes and colors.||Free|
|Designing an effective infographic|
How to design an effective infographic
When you are going to design your own infographic, keep in mind that your first aim is to make the ideas that you want to spread simple - understandable by anyone, even a child - and attractive. In other words, your infographic will fulfill its purpose when the reader is compelled to print and use it as a visual guide that can be easily consulted.
The points below might be used as a simple parameter to remember while designing infographics.
This is the first step. The more time you spend on this part, the visualization you will end up with will be more engaging and imaginative. As you are telling a story, the best way to start is by displaying the crucial question right at the top. It will help you to define your goal, to attract attention and to create an effect of suspense.
Collect and verify data that you need and then distill it to a few essential points. The content must be well-organized to help and guide the readers to get the point of your message. Don’t let your readers say “I’ve been wasting my time reading this!”.
Simplification is a matter of knowing who exactly your target audience is. Imagining your public reading your infographic is a way to interpret their needs.
How your infographic finally looks depends on your creativity; the more attractive and dynamic it is, the more memorable your message will be. Playing with colors is the first way for authors to guide their readers effectively, making them more focused on the object; see different colour combinations on Kuler . Moreover, try to combine single concepts with typography, illustrations, images, charts, diagrams or icons: these visual clues are helpful not only in catching attention but also in representing causes and effects, emphasizing concepts, comparing elements or showing hierarchy between elements.
Using infographics for e-Learning: showing rather than telling
There are many parallels between infographic design and E-Learning: understanding more about visual communication should be helpful for building a better e-Learning environment. First of all they are both based on the concept of showing information in a visual medium, selecting the most relevant concepts and focusing on key points and essential information. The more you view graphics and animations as equal players in your e-Learning designs, the better equipped you’ll be for developing more engaging courses. Listed below are some relevant points to integrate ideas from infographics into e-Learning. 
How can you apply what you see in the infographics to your e-Learning courses? Instead of writing a title on the screen with a list of bullet points, write a single sentence that makes the point. Use that sentence to guide the visualization of the information.
We know that the key point of infographics is the data. So instead of explaining it through many words, let the data convey the information. Converting the data into illustrations, you can give the images the power to do what words alone cannot.
Most infographics use colors and elements that show up on the screen. These techniques also work with e-Learning screens. In fact, you should start by finding an infographic you like and then replicating the layout on the e-Learning course screen. That will give you some practice playing with layout and colors. While you may never design an infographic, making it a habit to review them is a worthwhile pursuit that can inspire your own e-Learning course design.
Job AidDesigning an effective Infographic
|Find below additional information and resources.|
|All That Glitters Is Not Gold||A very interesting article about common misconceptions about designing with data.|
|13 reasons why our brain craves infographics||Infographic that explains why our brain craves infographics in only 7 minutes!.|
|Click4it infographics on Pinterest||The Click4it Pinterest page has various boards with infographics related to learning and training.|
|Understanding Kirkpatrick’s 4 Levels of Evaluation||Infographic representing Kirkpatrick Model.|
|Visualizing Information for Advocacy||This article is an introduction to information design addressed to organizations involved in advocacy and research activities.|
|The value of visualisation (Video, 1,43 min)||In this video the author explains the importance of infographics in improving communication.|
|18 free tools to create infographics for your learners||A list of free tools to easily create infographics.|
|Infographics as a link between analysis and communication||The importance of perception for analysis and communication through infographics.|
|How can infographics produce better e-Learning courses?||An article about parallels between Infographic and e-Learning. They both share information in a visual medium. Those who design infographics start with lots of information and distill them to a few essential points. That’s very similar to what instructional designers do when a subject matter expert hands them a PowerPoint file to be converted to an e-Learning course.|
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- www.articulate.com (2 August 2012)