Thursday, March 27, 2014

Infographics Eleven: 10 books and an exhibit

Infographics take advantage of the strongest of all social media trends--the visual--but these powerhouse graphics, when done well, pack a lot of data as well as visual beauty. And in my book, they do not include those three-foot-long type treatments of something that's primarily text and probably should have been a blog post, just so we're clear.

Good infographics involve work to be sure you're conveying data correctly rather than just beautifully. I'm delighted to have found a not-quite-dozen books and a meaty exhibit that offer plenty of examples, ideas and nuances for your infographic adventures:
  1. Beautiful Science is an infographic exhibit currently at the British Library in London through May 26. I'm in London this week and can attest that this exhibit--which covers historic as well as current infographics--is a data-lover's dream. Check out an example at right, showing the number of fast food outlets per 100,000 population. The Library's holding a series of events to explore themes of the exhibit, such as picturing the public health of the nation and data visualization design techniques. You also can check out infographics from the exhibit on the British Library's Pinterest board.
  2. The Best American Infographics 2013 with an introduction by David Byrne, is an eye-popping collection that would be a great reference for the office. Brain Pickings blog looks at how to be an educated consumer of infographics, highlighting Byrne's introduction.
  3. The Best American Infographics 2014 with an introduction by Nate Silver is just out, and brings the collection (and your infographic ogling) up-to-date.
  4. Information Graphics offers a thorough introductory section, followed by more than 400 examples of infographics, each with a fact sheet and explanations of the methodology used and the graphic's objective.
  5. Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling looks at the full range of options, from the type-heavy versions I don't like to the visual displays of data that appeal to me more. Includes data on how and why our brains react so well to visuals of this type, something worth knowing before you plunge in.
  6. Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design also covers why infographics work and how to create them, but focuses as well on such practical applications as "board meeting presentations, annual reports, consumer research statistics, marketing strategies, business plans, and visual explanations of products and services to your customers," as well as applications you might use yourself, like a visual resume.
  7. The Power of Infographics: Using Pictures to Communicate and Connect With Your Audiences emphasizes whether your audience will understand the infographic--something I especially appreciate--as well as the often-ignored step of planning for measurement of your return on investment in creating these graphics.
  8. The Functional Art: An introduction to information graphics and visualization is an option if you've considered taking a course to dive deep into infographics and how they're made: The book is accompanied by a DVD course on the topic.
  9. Designing Information: Human Factors and Common Sense in Information Design is another deep dive of a book, so comprehensive that it goes beyond the beautiful to provide you with examples of failed designs (and why they failed) as well as the exemplary.
  10. The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures takes a smaller and larger view, reducing your need for visualization to a few dots and marks on the back of a napkin, but zooming out to discuss the big picture of why conveying information doesn't need to be complicated to be clear.
  11. Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand looks at infographics' visual language and its meanings. The action-oriented book considers how to direct the eye, make abstract concepts concrete and more.
Yes, these are Amazon affiliate links--so when you order a book via one of these links (or anything else on Amazon, for that matter), you are helping to support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!

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