Off the Charts: When Infographics Are More Than Just Data Visualization

By December 10, 2019 January 2nd, 2020 Infographics

Data visualization blog header design

You can use infographics to quickly share knowledge. There are a few ways to do this. You can present just the facts in your infographic with data visualization, icons, and illustrations. Or, you can craft a defined story and clear conclusion. When planning for an infographic, a design service typically uses a combination of the following:

An infographic usually needs at least 2 of these elements. But, it doesn’t need all of them. Also, this list isn’t exhaustive. An infographic may incorporate elements other than those listed here, especially if it’s interactive.

We know that infographics should be light on text. They should instead lean on visuals to tell most of the story. You can surely accomplish this with icons and illustrations. But is an infographic really an infographic if it doesn’t use data visualization? 

Absolutely! We advocate for using data visualization whenever data is available to be visualized. But, it’s not required for all infographics. This is primarily because not all infographics are driven by, or even incorporate, numerical data sets. 

So here are some examples of infographics in which data visualization isn’t the primary means of communicating information. In some cases, it isn’t necessary at all!

REHAU Compression-Seal Technology

To be sure, data visualization is a strong choice for plenty of product description infographics. But this infographic design for REHAU illustrates the strengths of the company’s compression-seal technology in service of a larger narrative: the quality of REHAU’s products. This story is convincing on its own without numerical data. 

REHAU Infographic Design thumb showing compression seal technology

Each section features illustrations that show an element of the technology. You see how that element functions, how durable it is, what it’s designed to withstand, and where it’s used. The design provides an illustration for each and every detail of the technology’s design. In this way, the viewer sees the many merits of, and uses for, compression-seal technology. 

Fortune Brands Fortunate Giving Program

Before you call us out — yes, there is a donut chart on this infographic! We’d also say that the $2.2M donation stat at the top uses a form of data visualization. That’s because such a large number isn’t suitable to be visualized through traditional means. You can find out more about how to pick the right type of data visualization here

Fortune Brands fortunate giving program infographic design thumb

But generally speaking, this infographic isn’t driven by data visualization. Instead, an overarching scene drives the layout and narrative of the design. We’re met with rolling hills, buildings, activities, and more that make up the story of Fortune Brands’ Fortunate Giving Program. The overall effect? The scenic design of the infographic illustrates the importance of community service and global citizenship to this organization.

Epson 3LCD Technology

Epson wanted this infographic in order to explain how 3LCD projector technology works. Leading with a bold color palette and pattern-focused aesthetic, it showcases the merits of this technology. We also see the process of what happens as light passes through this projector.

Illustration of Sydney opera house for Epson Infographic and Motion Graphic visual campaign

The result? This infographic shows the value of a technology in a unique way. It does so not through data visualization, nor via a hard sell on performance results, but through detailed description. A few stats prove its superiority midway through the design. Yet, the technology primarily speaks for itself. In proving the efficacy of the technology by sharing its features, Epson created visual content that sells their product both subtly and effectively. 

Alaska Airlines’ “Alaska Beyond” Service Infographic Design

When Alaska Beyond debuted, Alaska Airlines needed to show what made their new service offerings and amenities truly special. With approachable characters and a branded suite of colors and fonts, this infographic design provides a peek into the Alaska Beyond service experience from the passenger’s perspective. 

Illustration of person on airplane viewing Alaska Beyond entertainment program on tablet, from infographic design

Icons and illustrations show the comfort of the seats and rows, revamped food options, and entertainment choices. In this way, you can picture yourself on an Alaska flight. You see firsthand the many options that can improve your travel experience. The infographic meets its goals without any data visualization.

Does My Infographic Need Data Visualization?

The choice of whether to include data visualization in your design doesn’t really come down to personal preference. At least, it shouldn’t. As with all your visual content marketing decisions, you should make that choice based on 2 equally important things:

  1. What your audience wants to see
  2. What follows visual communication best practices

Got data sets that are relevant to your main goals and messaging? Great! Then you’ve got the green light to pursue data visualization. But use a design service that understands proper data viz, in infographics and all visual content.

Lucy Todd

Author Lucy Todd

Lucy Todd is the Chief Process Officer at Killer Visual Strategies. She is a Seattle native and Western Washington University graduate. Her degree in Creative Writing and her customer service background both inform her work daily. A Killer employee since 2011 and executive since 2014, Lucy has researched for, written, and/or project-managed over 4,000 projects for the company, affording her key insight into our processes and projects. This experience is invaluable in allowing her to lead and empower Killer’s content and project management teams to success. Lucy enjoys managing the day-to-day at the office, offering a unique perspective when a team or colleague feels stuck, and learning from her peers and clients each day.

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