Looking Beyond Infographics at AdobeMAX

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Last week, my business partner Nick Grant and I had the privilege of presenting at AdobeMAX for the 3rd year in a row. Our presentation focused on looking beyond infographics to recognize the future of visual communication. Over the 5 years since we launched Killer Infographics, an entire industry has evolved around delivering information through infographics, motion graphics, and interactive content among other things. This visual storytelling industry has only just begun, and last week we got the opportunity to explore what the future holds in a room filled with hundreds of talented designers and marketers.

We began by discussing a definition of visual communication that would set the stage for the rest of the presentation. The term “visual communication” has had many meanings throughout the years and recently it has been adopted as an identifier for our industry. Another term commonly used is “visual storytelling.” Whether you prefer one over the other, the definition of the practice remains the same:

Visual Communication/Visual Storytelling graphically represents information to efficiently and effectively create meaning. When necessary, limited text is included to explicate the meaning.

With so much information inundating consumers on a daily basis, visual communication has become the best tool to cut through all of the noise. This is because, according to the SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, our brains transmit visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Our brains are hardwired to consume visual information easier than any other type of information delivery. Think of babies, who recognize meaning in picture books before understanding how to read.

wet-floor-iconTo exemplify this, here is a universal symbol we often see. This simple icon says so much: “you could slip, fall, break your back…” All with one image. When this image is paired with short form text like “Caution, Wet Floor” it increases comprehension by 89%.

When executed properly, an infographic combines universal images with short form text to deliver a high level message with ease. But as access to information grows, people want to dive deeper than what most static designs allow for. Because of this, animated video and interactive content are growing in popularity. This doesn’t mean infographics aren’t as popular. In fact, demand for infographics has grown 900% since 2009. The use of infographics, though, has changed over the years. Rather than just a tool for online content building, infographics have moved offline for use at conferences, company meetings, educational collateral, and much more.

In addition, demand has grown significantly for short-form content because more consumers view social media sites on mobile devices than on a larger desktop screen. This has led to an overwhelming 95% of consumers preferring short-form content over long-form when viewing static images.

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While preferences for static design and the uses for infographics continue to evolve, motion graphics and interactive content are continuing to grow in popularity. In fact, it is predicted that 80% of consumer internet traffic will be video traffic by 2019, while demand for interactive infographics has grown 157% over the past 3 years.

Marketers understand these growing trends, which is why at least 77% have a dedicated budget for their visual strategy and 39% believe their budgets need to increase just to compete. It’s clear that visual storytelling is here to stay and the industry’s growth is in line with consumer demand.

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The full presentation from AdobeMAX can be viewed at the AdobeMAX website here.

Amy Balliett

Author Amy Balliett

A Cleveland native, Amy Balliett moved to Seattle in 2004 to take in the scenes of the Pacific Northwest for “a few years.” Now with permanent roots in the city, she still prides herself on her Cleveland roots and rustbelt work ethic. She owned her first company, a candy store and ice cream parlor, at the age of 17 before heading off for college. She subsequently built a successful career in SEO and marketing, and has headed up SEO at several companies. In 2009, she partnered with Nick Grant to build lead-gen-based websites, but in the fall of 2010, the business pivoted to an entirely new model: infographic design. In the years since, as CEO of Killer Infographics she has helped the company become an industry leader, driving visual communication campaigns for nonprofits and Fortune500 clients including Microsoft, Boeing, Adobe, Nikon, Starbucks, the National Endowment for the Arts, the United Nations, and more.

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