6 good infographics sources--and how USA Today fooled everyone
I distinctly remember some of the criticism of USA Today when it first launched: the color photography, the short articles, and all of those big infographics. That's journalism? Do the editors have no faith in America's ability to read? (See example of an effective infographic to the right)
Well, sure enough, the venerable New York Times eventually switched to color photography. And if you've read the Wall Street Journal lately, you know it's hardly the text-centric newspaper it once was.
One thing USA Today realized, even before the rise of the Internet, is that we humans have become increasingly visual creatures. Nowadays, with screens and information pervading every nook and cranny we inhabit, figuring out how to organize and present that information is more important than ever.
As a result, those big infographics have become increasingly popular. In Information Design Workbook, author Kim Baer nicely summarizes the reasons why. "With all this information flying at us, we're craving some guidance to help us sort through it. Hence the preponderance of blogs, news aggregators, content-specific RSS feeds, and an even greater need for information graphics and charts to help visually distill information. Editorial direction and thoughtful design can help us sort through and decide what's most meaningful for us."
In helping clients develop more effective communications, we're leaning on infographics more and more. They're particularly useful on the Web, when you have a limited chance to engage your reader. And visuals can go a long way if you need to communicate complex information, or a lot of it. Apparently USA Today knew something the rest of the newspaper industry didn't.
I'm working on a mini case study about an infographic Tendo helped produce with a partner, so look for that follow-up post soon. In the meantime, I've listed some good resources below if you want to learn more about information graphics, or if you're looking for inspiration.