Infographics have been a hot marketing strategy for the past few years because of their ability to represent information in a concise, powerful way. As far as visual representations go, though, are there other communication strategies that work equally well? After all, as with any trend, infographics could go out of style at any time. The blogger who innovates on visual marketing is the one who’ll steal the scene.
Exploring Your Options
One reason bloggers have become so dependent on infographics might be that their ubiquity has created a situation in which marketers think infographics are the only option for visual content. This couldn’t be further from the case. Similar to infographics, yet unique in their purposes, are such forms as charts and digital posters.
What makes a chart or digital poster different from an infographic? Imagine a Venn diagram. Digital posters typically only include text, while charts are explanatory or data-based. Infographics are at the center of the Venn diagram, and may include both factors. They’re also typically longer than a chart or digital poster; infographics are narrative in nature.
For marketers and bloggers trying to choose between visual content forms, the best place to start is with a purpose: what do you want your visual to accomplish? The greatest problem with the ongoing infographic trend is that it ignores function in favor of a generic form. When we integrate new styles, form no longer overtakes function.
Charts, for example, come in many different forms even though they constitute a single category of visual. Some charts are designed to be data-driven, while others are meant to be more conceptual. For example, Tom Hess’s site offers a visual guide to hand synchronization for guitar players. This chart is conceptual in nature; it’s intended to be instructive. Alternatively, visualization specialist Visme gives an example of a data driven chart from Scientific American. Stylistically these are very different, but they’re both charts.
Another option that bloggers might want to consider when developing visual content are more low-tech options. Though most infographics are the result of careful graphic design (or at least a digital generator), sometimes it worth offering readers a more personal touch. With a few different colored pens, a quality scanner, and a little creativity, you can create a compelling, hand-drawn graphic.
If you’re going to take the low-tech route when designing your site’s visuals, make sure that the styling is coherent with the rest of your site. On a formal, professional site, this kind of graphic might look out of place, but on a DIY page, it’s a perfect complement to the rest of your content.
Driven By Data
Ultimately, infographics gained popularity as a way to present data that was reader friendly – most people skimming a blog aren’t interested in traditional line or bar graphs. Infographics are able to translate that kind of information into digestible bites. Now, though, it might be time to start innovating on the chart form, rather than just falling back on infographics. Are there ways to improve on classic charts to make them easier to read and more engaging? Data visualization specialists have their work cut out for them.
Sure, the infographic is alive and well online – at least for now – but we can’t put all our eggs in one basket. It’s time to start rethinking visual marketing. We’re in a rut and innovative visuals will help get us out.