5.9.12

Infographics: What's old is new?

BY ERIN BEHRENHAUSEN

Infographics are playing a bigger part in the marketing world, and with good reason. Infographics offer distilled, concentrated representations of important information that usually makes up pages and pages of research reports that honestly, no one really wants to read. When properly designed they're attractive, easy to understand and of course, informative. But are they really a new concept? Hardly.

Enter the Lascaux caves in France. Man used the walls of these caves for displaying their paintings of day-to-day life, such as hunting scenes and human and animal figures. Though it's never been determined just why our Paleolithic ancestors painted these images, it's safe to assume that they probably felt the images best represented ideas and facts that they felt were important to their lives. Pictograms. Infographics.

These "ancient infographics" can be found all over the world and seem to function in the same way - representing important ideas and concepts. In essence, serving the same function as they do today and throughout  the history of humankind. Warning us of on-coming traffic, indicating directions, representing numbers and figures, informing us in the blink of an eye.

With these facts in mind, some people might wonder why there's such hype around infographics lately. GOOD, Mashable and Pinterest are saturated with brightly-colored, beautifully organized infographics illustrating how much water people consume and how much money people spend on their pets. Companies frequently use infographics for presentations and landing pages. My theory? More people are getting their news online. And by news, I really mean the headline and first paragraph of a news article.

Readers want their information quickly and seemingly don't want to have to wait until the end to get their payoff. Take a look at any eye-tracking study out there and you'll see those bright yellow-red blotches right over the headline and first paragraph. As Nielsen says of online readers, "Users are selfish, lazy and ruthless." Today, people want to be informed immediately and what better way to do it, again, than infographs. Pictograms.

So are we descending back into the primordial goo from which we evolved? Are we becoming more and more lazy as more and more technology becomes available to us? Is the fact that we never, ever actually read assembly instructions but instead refer to the diagrams an indication of our inevitable demise? Maybe. But more than anything, I think we're drawn to what resonates with us as human beings, who have always been visual creatures.

Check out a few infographics by Carbon8:

Client DigitalGlobe announces their new WorldView-3 satellite at The National Space Symposium via infographic (link no longer available).

worldviewinfographicsmall

Client DigitalGlobe shares their full spectrum of products via infographic (link no longer available).

fullspectruminfographicsmall

Erin Behrenhausen
written by ERIN BEHRENHAUSEN

Erin Behrenhausen is Art Director for Carbon8, and has over 15 years of experience as a designer in the Denver area. Erin is passionate about strong, clean design that creates an emotional impact, and believes that typography and balance are the foundation of good design.

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