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What’s Next for the Infographic?

Now that everyone knows what they are, forward thinkers are wondering what’s next for the infographic. Is this the beginning of a visual revolution, or is it another passing fad? This is an important question to consider particularly for those who are making large investments in the medium.

Are Infographics Dead?

Ross Crocks of Column Five Media attempts to answer this very question. He argues in his post, that infographics are not dead, what’s dying is the novelty surrounding them.  He relates the history of the infographic to the history of a new music genre “Just as the popularity of a new musical genre does not affect its legitimacy, the prevalence of infographics does not limit the opportunity of use the medium to create something of incredible quality and utility”. He’s right, infographics aren’t going anywhere. The need to quickly and easily express complex data is only growing ensuring opportunities for graphic visualizations for years to come.

Infographics Today

Infographics have been used for hundreds of years for various purposes. It’s only recently that they have taken on a new form. Static graphics are the most common and the ones we are most familiar with. This is primarily because they are the easiest to create. Crocks adds that the static format adds to the success of the infographic, as people can easily share, download and repost these graphics.

Interactive and Motion Graphics

Interactive infographics (typically Flash based) are also becoming more popular for use in editorial content. (To learn the difference between Editorial and Brand Infographics see our previous post Unlocking the Power of the Infographic) This format allows designers visualize multiple layers in a single graphic while providing an entertaining user experience. The issue with interactive infographics is the lack of support on mobile devices and tablets. While this is a legitimate concern, the ease of development can often outweigh this drawback and still new a very positive effect. 

Using animation in infographics is another current trend in infographics. These are usually narrative-based and use a combo o illustration, data visualization and kinetic text to inform people on a specific topic. These can be useful in more brand-centric messaging, by bringing the information to life for the audience. (Check out this cool example on the history of the iPhone)

Future of the Infographic

The popularity of the iPad and iPhone have fueled demand for the development of interactive infographics accessible on these devices. To meet this demand, developers have begun to use HTML5 to create rich infographics that are viewable on these platforms. With Adobe discontinuing their mobile Flash efforts, and no shift in Apple’s anti-Flash stance in the foreseeable future, I imagine this trend will only grow.

Crocks points out another area positioned for expansion, real-time data visualization.  He rightfully states that “Media outlets will want to see what topics are trending, and what people are saying on particular topics in real-time.” Similarly, brands will be monitoring, tracking and trending their social sentiment on the web (if they are not already) and will want to see the most up-to-date information available in an easily understandable, well-designed format.

While the novelty of the infographic may be waning, the infographic is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Your Thoughts?

Do you think infographics are a fad or are they here to stay?

What do you think is next for the infographic?

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