The Difference Between Infographics and Data Visualization

By April 9, 2019 January 6th, 2020 Data Visualization, Infographics
Infographics Design Visual Communication

Today’s audiences are more informed than ever about the products they buy and the companies they buy from. That’s why marketing teams have so heartily embraced data-driven content like infographics, data visualization, and interactive content. But what’s the difference between infographics and data visualization? And how can your team harness both mediums to their utmost potential?

Let’s take a look at how we define infographics vs. data visualization, and when to use these kinds of visual content.

Data Visualization & When to Use It

Data visualization is the translation of datasets into a meaningful and easy-to-understand visual medium. It’s incredibly useful for those companies that are dealing with tons of big data. Looking at a colossal spreadsheet communicates little or nothing, unless you’re willing to put in a lot of time to scroll through all the information.

Data visualization, though, makes trends in huge sets of data instantly visible. It makes what’s most important stand out. And the best part is, when you look at a graph or a chart, you can see these trends or key data points instantly. No need to scroll through mountains of raw data for an hour or more.

Whether you’re communicating with your boss or with potential customers, you can’t expect your audience to dedicate the time and effort to crunching all those numbers themselves. Data visualization will help you cut through the noise and show them what’s most important.

Types of data visualization include:

Bar Graphs

Scatterplots

Data Visualization Example Scatterplot chart

Pie Charts

Data Visualization Example Pie Chart

Venn Diagrams

Data Visualization Example Venn diagram

Hierarchy Diagrams

Data Visualization Example Hierarchy Diagram

Line Graphs

Data Visualization Example Line graph

Flow Charts

Data Visualization Example Flow Chart

Pictographs

Data Visualization Example Pictograph

Gantt Charts

Data Visualization Example Gantt chart

Maps

Data Visualization Example Map

Data visualizations can stand alone or be a part of a larger piece of visual content. Here are some places you can use data visualizations:

Curious what visual communication can do for you?

Infographics & Why Marketers Need Them

Consumers today want to feel informed, and they shy away from a direct sales pitch. That’s why marketers use infographics. An effective infographic gives the viewer all the information he or she needs to make an informed decision. No hefty sales pitch is necessary — just a simple call-to-action at the end of your piece should be more than enough. This builds trust with the consumer and boosts the thought leadership of the company that produced the infographic.

A strong infographic tells a story. It combines text, illustrations, icons, and data visualizations like graphs and charts in a carefully organized progression. So the primary difference between infographics and data visualizations is that data visualizations are generally briefer, more discrete pieces that can form one component of a larger infographic.

infographic example

Data visualizations are a key element of most infographics. Instead of using several sentences of text to try to convince your audience that your product has value, or that your company is the right fit for them, one graph can offer data-driven proof of your argument. Today’s savvy consumers will appreciate that you offered evidence to back up your claims — and will also be glad you didn’t give them a reading assignment.

Infographics can vary widely in size and application. Make sure you’re optimizing them for whatever platform they’re on. For instance, a long-scroll infographic lives best on a landing page rather than on most social-media platforms. So in order to drive traffic to that landing page, pull out key elements — such as the most compelling data visualizations — from that infographic to make mini-infographics optimized to post on social-media channels. These will serve as teasers, intriguing audiences enough that they’re willing to click through to learn more.

Mini Infographic Example

Here are some of the places you can use infographics and mini-infographics:

  • Your home page
  • Key landing pages for marketing campaigns
  • Microsites (like Killer Infographics’ microsite on visual communication)
  • Social media
  • Presentations and slide decks
  • Mini-infographics
  • Summaries/teasers for annual reports
  • Summaries/teasers for whitepapers and ebooks
  • Informational brochures

What story do you have to tell, and what data do you have to support it? Answer these questions and you’ll have the foundations for a powerful visual campaign.

Data visualizations and infographics are key elements in most successful marketing campaigns. Try out some of the ideas above and you’ll be well on your way to a compelling, eye-catching visual content series.

Erin McCoy

Author Erin McCoy

Erin McCoy is director of content marketing and public relations at Killer Visual Strategies. She earned her BA in Spanish with minors in French and Russian, and holds 2 master’s degrees from the University of Washington: an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Spanish literature. She has won nearly 2 dozen awards in photojournalism, and has dedicated those skills to boosting Killer’s brand recognition and thought leadership in visual communication. Since Erin took on her marketing/PR role, Killer has been named a member of the Inc. 5000 for 4 years in a row; has been featured in such publications as Inc., Forbes, Mashable, and the Huffington Post; and has been invited to present at such conferences as SXSW and SMX Advanced.

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