Infographics: everyone loves ’em. They take boring numbers and data and make it beautiful and digestible. They account for hundreds of thousands of keyword searches on Google every month. And they get tons of shares on social media.
But there’s so much more you can do with the infographic format than illustrate statistics!
The reason infographics are so popular is because humans are visual creatures. In fact, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, and our brain processes these visual images 60,000 times faster than we do text. This means we’re able to more easily understand concepts if it’s presented to us pictorially (vs. hearing it or seeing it written down).
Infographics are also incredibly versatile. Videos are also very visual, but they generally require a minimum time requirement (the length of the video) to sit and watch. An infographic can be easily skimmed, or read more in depth, putting the user in charge of their experience.
Want to take advantage of all of these visually oriented human brains? Read on for 16 unique infographic ideas to inspire your next project.
1. Use an infographic to categorize
Categorization of complex things is, well, complex. An infographic can help people sort through these detailed relationships and help make sense of topics with lots of parts, be it beer types or rap names.
2. Make your menu an infographic
The latest trend in business is making things customizable. Whether that’s a burrito made exactly the way you want it, or a pair of jeans custom fit to your body, we’re becoming increasingly used to having a plethora of options available to us when we buy. If you offer a product with multiple options, why not help customers navigate your process by giving them an infographic menu?
3. Help people make a choice
The National Parks Service wants people to get out and explore. That sounds awesome! But with 59 official national parks—located from Maine to American Samoa—and hundreds of national monuments, historic sites, preserves, forests and seashores, it’s difficult to know where to start planning. The NPS distilled this overwhelming list of awesome choice through an infographic that flips it around: instead of deciding where to go, you start with what you want to do, and it directs you to a few good choices.
4. Illustrate abstract concepts or feelings
When we hear “infographic” we often think of numbers, but data isn’t the only type of information you can better translate in a visual sense. The travel site Maptia used their blog to create beautiful illustrations that capture 11 untranslatable words from other cultures, that not only provides unique language information, but captures the ephemeral feeling of exploring a world outside of your own.
5. Help customers make an important purchase
Especially when what you’re selling costs a lot of money, consumers will want to know their options and weigh them before making a choice. Help them along by providing honest information about your product, and your competitor’s. It can be tempting to make your product look better than others, but buyers are very good at sniffing out anything that feels like an advertisement, instead of helpful information. They’re more likely to trust you if you provide unbiased information.
6. Use an infographic to make huge ideas comprehensible
The human brain has a problem comprehending things that our beyond our day-to-day experiences. For example, it’s very easy to understand the difference between paying $15 for a dinner out and $180. But even if you’re good at counting zeroes, it’s a little bit more difficult to grasp the difference in cost between the cost of the first World War—$334,000,000,000—and the second—$4,104,000,000,000. (In case you were curious, that’s approximately the same proportional difference as the dinner example. Except a lot more billions of dollars.) Web comic XKCD created an awesome example of how infographics can help take huge numbers and contextualize them.
7. Or to illustrate small differences
In addition to being great at showing big-picture, complex data, infographics are great at illustrating the nuanced difference between things. Food blogger Tessa Arias created a very simple infographic to illustrate a very important, contentious topic: the differences between chocolate chip cookies. We all know what our favorites look like (gooey and chewy is the correct answer, in case you were curious), but most home bakers don’t know how to evaluate or modify a recipe to get it exactly how they like it. By laying a few things out side by side, she illustrated an advanced, nuanced concept quickly and easily.
8. Make an infographic cheat sheet
Our brains are pretty good at learning information, but unless we use it regularly, we’re not always as good at retrieving it when we need it. An infographic can help solve that problem! Create a cheat sheet, like this great example from Everest.co.uk, to make a whole lot of vital information easily accessible.
9. Illustrate a list
Infographics can be a fun way to illustrate a list in a creative fashion, as they allow you to include a variety of content, including text and images, and can also be stylized to match a theme. This example from Banham Close Protection, a security company, uses a fun, hand-made crime dossier style to illustrate a list of historical security breaches.
10. Show a variety of options
Whether you’re ordering a drink, getting a hair cut or buying a new pair of shoes, there are a ton of options out there. A lot of choices can lead to people getting overwhelmed, or stuck in a rut. Use an infographic to easily show people multiple options. It may lead to them venturing out (or buying something new or different).
11. Compare unlike things
Humans are very self centered creatures. Have you ever walked by someone on the street wearing a t-shirt for the same band or college or sports team that you like and done the subtle “I get you!” nod? We all like to connect to people and products that share similar identity traits to our own. One interesting idea for an infographic is to latch onto that, and connect disparate ideas with identity. The real estate blog Movoto did a great job with this in their “What font is your city?” infographic. If you can connect to a piece of human identity and give it a unique spin, it will definitely lead to some social shares.
12. Play on words
Everyone loves malapropism. Why not take it to the next level by adding a visual level to your joke? Pop Cart Lab, who are known for their tongue-in-cheek infographic posters, did just this with their Periodic Table of Heavy Metals, which of course conflates the music style of heavy metal with the heavy metal family of elements. This is particularly effective when it crosses two very unlike things, as it makes readers feel smart once they get the joke.
13. Make an infographic personal
An infographic can be a great way to show the evolution or history of something. It can also have a more personal flavor, like this one, that Gillette created as a gift for 105-year-old Anthony Mancinelli, the world’s oldest barber. It links the life of one individual to hair history and larger historical events, creating a unique, special illustration of one man’s life.
14. Create an infographic to help people navigate social situations
A flow chart style infographic can help people figure out tricky social situations. Whether it’s deciding if it’s appropriate to text a person, or help you decide what to bring to the neighborhood potluck, this style of infographic is a fun (and often funny), interactive way to help people answer the important questions that plague our lives.
15. Compare and contrast
An infographic can be a great way to compare and contrast two different things. Whether it’s two different methods of doing something, a before-and-after, or comparing to options in an in depth way, the visual nature of an infographic creates a unique way to lay information out side by side for easy analysis.
16. Infographics can highlight weird data
Sometimes data is useful, and sometimes it’s just just interesting. Did you know that some birthdays are more popular than others? Infographic charts can show off these tidbits, which really makes you stop and think (and start counting backwards 9 months…)
Need even more unique infographic ideas? Browse our Discover library. Share the link to your favorite (on our site or elsewhere) in the comments and we might just add it to this list!