Image source: fivethirtyeight.com
The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ rings true now more than ever. We live in a culture accessorized by cover images, thumbnails, Instagrams and emojis. People ‘read’ pictures like they do text, but with pictures there are no rules for engagement. There are no restrictions; no left to right, top to bottom, start to finish. Your eyes are allowed to wander through the story a picture tells.
The convenience of making images has made people more creative about how they use pictures as a means of communication. With so much data available on a variety of things, information is being transformed into incredibly interesting, accessible and beautiful pictures that can be more powerful than the written or spoken word. They also seem to travel faster. The proof is in FiveThirtyEight’s 33 Weirdest Charts from 2014.
On FiveThirtyEight’s list, there is an image that illustrates weather predictability across the United States and makes it clear that if you like to rely on the weather forecast, you might want to consider moving to the West Coast. There is also an image that illustrates the way some countries feel about others (and thus, who you might root for if your team gets knocked out of the next World Cup). If you’re into football, you can spot how likely your team are to make the NFL playoffs based on previous records.
The geniuses behind the best infographics are typically those with a rare confluence of ‘right-brain’ and ‘left-brain’ skills according to Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Art New York City. I think it’s the illusion of simplicity that gets me. The best images are easy to digest and eye-catching.
Compelling, by getting straight to the point, telling you the gist of the story in a language you can understand.