Infographics and Why They Work
Infographics have risen in popularity over the past 10 years. Today, brands of all sorts are using them to benefit their business. Between 2010 and 2012, online searches for infographics increased by 800%. That poses the questions: why have infographics become so popular in digital marketing? Why are businesses using them? And why do they work? In this article, we explore infographics and why they work in more detail.
What are Infographics?
Before we explore why infographics work, let’s discuss what they actually are. Many people assume that an infographic is simply a visual representation of data; while data visualisations may be included within the graphic, infographics are more than that. An infographic tells a story through the use of images and text. Yes, infographics visualise facts and figures, but they also connect with the reader in some way. Effective infographics take complex information and break it down into a clear, visual message that’s more relevant for the reader.
Why Do They Work?
Below, we explore some of the key reasons why infographics work.
Target Visual Processing
Infographics target our natural visual processing. As humans, we are naturally visual beings. 30% of our brain is used to process visual information, while only 8% is used for touch and 3% for hearing. With a large portion of our brain dedicated to visual processing, our visual senses are excellent. While reading text is a visual task, we are able to understand images quicker than text. This is due to processing efficiency, making some visual stimuli easier to process than others. To understand text, we need to put in a fair amount of effort when viewing it. Each letter represents a symbol, and we must decode each letter to understand it. This isn’t the case with images. In contrast, they’re easy to process, particularly if they illustrate the point being made. Because of this, images can make it easier to process information. Infographics are a great example of this. The best infographics use relevant charts, graphs and images to make a complex point more comprehensible. Thanks to our excellent visual processing capabilities, an infographic can communicate complicate information more efficiently.
The internet has exposed us to more information than ever before. On average, we receive around 175 newspapers worth of information each day through the net. To deal with this influx of information, we tend to skim over most of it and only take in certain points. Research shows that people read around 20% of the text on a webpage. This means that 80% of the information goes unnoticed. With a large percentage being filtered out, how can you make sure readers are getting the key points? Eye-tracking studies suggest that internet users pay attention to images that carry information. In fact, readers spend more time looking at relevant images than they do reading the text on the page. Infographics can cut through the noise and capture the reader’s attention. By creating a relevant image from your information, you can make sure your readers understand the key points.
Break Down Information
Infographics make complex information more comprehensible. Long lists of facts and figures can overwhelm readers. When this happens, the reader is likely to skip the list and move onto the next bit of information – or worse, leave the page altogether. A well-designed infographic can make complicated information clearer. The most effective infographics don’t just add images to text; Instead, they provide additional context to the text and make the point easier to understand. When reading text, it can be tricky to identify patterns. When we add shapes, images and colours, readers can easily recognise the patterns and understand complex information.
Improve Memory Retention
Not only are infographics easier to understand, but they’re also easier to remember. This is down to the picture superiority effect. In psychology, this effect shows that people are more likely to remember information when it’s shown as an image, as opposed to words. Research shows that when people hear or read information, they only remember around 10% of it 3 days later. However, if the information is paired with a relevant image, people remember around 65% of it. The picture superiority effect demonstrates how images stay in our mind and increase the amount of information we can retain. This means that infographics can keep information in a reader’s mind for longer than it would when using text alone.
Gone are the days when all infographics were static images. Today, many people are using interactive infographics, instead. Just like static infographics, interactive infographics combine images and text to tell a story and visualise data. However, unlike their static counterparts, they also encourage participation from the reader. Initially, an interactive infographic displays less information than a static infographic. The reader is encouraged to interact with the graphic to reveal further information. This allows the image to be less busy and overwhelming to the reader while showing the same amount of information. If the interactive infographic is well designed, the reader will take in the first lot of information and click to reveal more. Not only does this make the image easy on the eye, but it also makes it easier to understand.
So, there you have it – infographics and why they work. If you’re looking to engage readers, break down information and make it easier to retain, give infographics a try. Providing they’re well-designed, you won’t be disappointed with the results.