Effective data visualization is the primary building block of almost all great infographics. But it’s not the only element an infographic can include. From illustrations and photographs to icons and timelines, infographics have a wealth of resources at their disposal when it comes time to tell a story.
(Still not sure how to tell the difference between data visualization and infographics? Ask your data visualization design service provider, or check out our article on how to tell them apart.)
But for this post, we wanted to highlight just a few of the infographics that are delivering real value to their audiences by incorporating fantastic and unusual data visualizations to enhance their underlying message. Let these examples serve as an inspiration to you the next time you kick off a visual communication project.
1. A Visualization of Train Speed
You don’t need to read Italian to appreciate the elegance of the data visualization in this infographic by Francesco Franchi. Not only do we learn the relative speeds of these trains broken down by geographical location; we can also glean extra information through color coding — for instance, whether a train line is under construction.
These many layers of information are laid out clearly and cleanly, making it easy for the reader to engage with whatever data points are most relevant or interesting to them.
2. An Infographic That Rides the Data Visualization Wave
One thing we love to see is effective data visualization that visually embodies a central, unifying metaphor. The infographic above likens a series of global mergers and acquisitions to a “wave” — and the metaphor takes off from there.
A bar chart transforms into that very wave, while small dolphins are sized relative to the data they’re representing. A bird draws a line chart across the sky to round out the scene.
If you want your infographics to tell self-contained narratives, ask your design service how they can ensure that your data visualization is fully tied, thematically and stylistically, to your infographic design as a whole.
3. An Inventive Approach
The mini-infographic shown at right is one of a series that visualize the 2013 TIME Invention Poll.
Like most infographics, it aims to deliver just a few data points at a time. This way, audiences can quickly glean the primary information it’s delivering — then, if they like, choose to share that information far and wide on social and other channels.
What’s unusual about this data visualization is the way it visualizes poll data with relative bubble size. This type of data visualization is often referred to as a proportional area chart. (For a fantastic resource on the different types of data viz and what they’re called, check out the Data Visualisation Catalogue.)
The organization of data in this infographic allows us to quickly notice outliers, many of which — including Sweden and Singapore — are called out specifically, with more data offered on those outliers.
4. An Elegant Bar Graph
The bar graph above allows us to quickly see which tennis racquet brands are most popular, and compare trends between male and female players. If we want to dive in deeper, we can learn which specific players use each brand.
The goal of any strong data visualization or infographic should be to make it easy to learn and notice trends. Here, it’s immediately clear that there are some stark differences in racquet brand preference between male and female players. A tennis enthusiast could use this information to quickly decide which racquet brand might be right for them.
Because this is essentially a single, standalone graph, a data visualization design service would normally call it a mini-infographic. These are perfect for sharing on social media to tease a longer infographic or encourage engagement and sharing.
5. A Brief Visualization of Time
In this infographic magazine spread, a simple chart visualizes the proportion of time each narrator controls the audiobook version of George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo.
In order to visualize this, we used a Gantt chart — a kind of bar chart that’s typically used to outline the schedule for a project. This data visualization style nonetheless translated perfectly to the context at hand.
It represents a huge volume of data in a very clean, minimalistic way — and captures the tone of the book in the process.
6. The Power of Color
The color-coding on this 1959 map and corresponding pie charts empower us to dig in and explore the data in multiple ways. The style, meanwhile, remains clean and minimalistic. That’s not easy to achieve given how much information this single image contains.
7. An Interactive Infographic Featuring Animated Data Visualizations
Interactive infographics like this one for Bluetooth offer the opportunity to animate a data visualization, and even interact with it. In the case of the chart pictured above, the animations occur as you scroll down the page. (Click here to view the full animation.)
Other data visualizations in the infographic maintain the same clean, modern design style and seek out unique ways to visualize the information at hand, such as in the case of this proportional area chart:
8. A Vast Geography
It can be hard to imagine something that is very large — a 100-story building, a whole ocean, a planet. That’s why data visualizations that assist us in doing this are so useful.
Ideally, they help us compare something we’re less familiar with (in this case, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) with something we might be more familiar with (the Iberian Peninsula). The data visualization shown at right offers an effective example of what you can do when dealing with problems of scale.
9. A Nested Pie Chart
This series of infographics for BSquare features a variety of data visualization, including the pie chart shown above. The chart combines a variety of data points without being confusing. Color-coding and a clear hierarchy of information prevents it from looking busy, messy, or overwhelming. It’s a great example of how to prioritize different data visually.
10. A Mini-Infographic with 3D Data Visualization
While this mini-infographic from designer and illustrator Andrii Bezvershenko doesn’t visualize a real dataset, we just had to include it because of the unique way it visualizes charts, graphs, calendars, and other data in three dimensions. The style feels clean, modern, and fun all at the same time.
Whether you’re designing infographics or some other type of visual content, these data visualization examples will hopefully spark some interesting ideas and help you explore new ways to tell your company’s story.