My 3-year-old daughter will only tolerate a certain ratio of words to pictures. Generally the pictures win the war for her attention. Looking at the popularity and apparent effectiveness of infographics, adults actually like pictures too (I certainly do). According to this infographic, created by Neo Mammalian Studios, there is some basis for this preference. Content publishers using infographics see increased traffic growth, and data or content presented in the form of infographics tend to have higher likelihood of viral lift. Perhaps this is because our brains are more likely to hang on to information that is communicated visually. The Power of Visual Storytelling is the subtitle of a new book on infographics by Jason Lankow, Josh Ritchie, and Ross Crooks, founders of the multimedia company Column Five.
Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling is a picture book (3-year-olds rejoice!) that provides a good overview of the medium and touches on the broader concerns that publishers might have when considering using an infographic. The chief question: what are your goals? This leads to questions about what kind of format should you use: static, motion, or interactive. What is your audience, and how does your audience shape your story? How will you distribute your content, and who can you work with to help spread the impact of this content? Branding via infographics (yes!)? But then you can get a general idea of what’s happening in this book straight from the authors’ short segment at the beginning, titled “The Purpose of This Book”:
…we will focus primarily on [infographic] implementation in improving business communication, from their new-found use in marketing to their more traditional application in reporting and gaining business insight. Along the way, we will also discuss some of the related pruposes for their use in other fields, which will shed light on the approach and critical framework for analyzing their quality and efficacy that we will establish toward the end of this book. Our primary purpose is to provide an in-depth understanding of the value of their use…
Don’t misunderstand: the book is more than simply pictures. But the rich and engaging graphic content included here probably accounts for more than 70% of the 263 pages. There is plenty of explanation to accompany the graphic demonstrations, and perhaps this ratio has something to do with the fact that this is a book about the power of graphics—what better a way to communicate the what and why than to offer demonstrative evidence. If it’s true that human beings are more likely to retain information presented in graphic-rich contexts, then it makes sense for this book to be rich with graphics. From a designer’s perspective, there is little discussion of technical details, but explaining the how is not quite what the authors intended to do. That said, the pictorial content is thoroughly engaging, regardless of what you hope to get out of this book. Whether you need to beef up your content, increase virility, or you simply need something for your coffee table, this book is interesting.