The Internet has changed the way we communicate, following the telegraph and the telephone. Besides instantaneous messaging by email, users have at their disposal Chat Rooms where groups of people come together to communicate; Social Networks that allow members to reconnect with old friends, make new friends and come together with members of similar interests; Forums that form part of a website to facilitate group discussions; Dating sites dedicated to matching singles with other singles; Blogs, online journals used to promote products, deliver tutorials, and provide information; Audio Conferencing, connecting users using software such as Skype; Video Conferencing [similar to audio conferencing], connecting users by webcam; and Voice over Internet Protocol [VoIP], a phone service through an Internet connection.
A communication medium that is rapidly growing in popularity on the Internet is Data Visualization, better known as Infographics. This method of communicating information through pictures [or drawings] has been around for centuries, with cave paintings probably being the first examples of conveying story-based visual information. Technology advancements have made infographics a powerful marketing tool. This simple yet effective medium is used to influence audiences through creative visual storytelling or supporting a complex argument. Online infographics are equally effective in real-time, when printed in newspapers, books, posters, advertisements, annual reports, bookmarks, and so forth. The intention of an informative and well-designed infographic is to grow awareness of an idea, campaign, service, resume, company or product. When viewing an infographic people expect to be fascinated, emotionally enthralled and intellectually stimulated. The art of creating an inspirational infographic is to arrange the content material in such a way that the complete art piece is sufficiently aesthetically pleasing to induce the reader to scrutinize the sequential message.
Know your target audience, connect online and real world ideas, follow the CASIE guideline to help you organize your ideas and recognize critical points to deliver a compelling story that will spark discussion, and pull diverse media together. When done well, infographics are a great way to collate a lot of useful information in one place and they can also help an audience see the big picture. An infographic is also a great tool for distilling a complex story into easily digestible ideas. A well thought out infographic design is a combination of mind mapping, an elevator pitch, a concise brief and good copy writing. CASIE facilitates design flow of an infographic:
C = Collect information on the specific topic; research the subject thoroughly to gain a broad perspective. Consider the topics viability and develop it to the stage where it is worth highlighting.
A = Analyze and arrange the information in order of priority, according to what would (a) draw the readers’ attention or sympathy; and (b) spark their interest by making a promise, taking them on a journey, describing a mystery or stating a problem.
S = Select what is relevant to your message. Be intentional in steering your audience to an overarching goal; they must relate to and understand your ‘guide posts’ to make them worthy of their attention.
I = Implement your story outline. Aim to charm and fascinate your audience. The challenge is to transfer their thoughts away from peripheral interference s so that they focus on the message at hand, leading to them making a plausible decision to respond to your call to action. While color plays a pivotal role in all our visual experiences and significantly increases brand recognition and memory, it is preferable to use no more than 5 colors to highlight important information in your design. Choose fonts that are legible. The layout must follow a logical hierarchy. Use callouts sparingly, and only to draw attention to key information.
E = Evaluate the balanced flow of the infographic–the relationship between eye-catching visuals, color, and concise text. Don’t overcrowd your design; include significant negative space to separate graphics and text. Choose illustrations and icons wisely; ensure they match the tone and subject matter and maintain size proportion of visuals. Make your call-to-action prominent at the bottom of the infographic; make it easy to engage with your organization; repeat the aim of the infographic, and add a link to Web site, or option to download an eBook.