Rudyard Kipling once said: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Data is a lot like history. There’s a lot of it, it’s impossible to remember it all and it can be very dull. However, if it’s presented in the form of a visual story, it’s a lot easier to follow – which is where infographics, instructographics and data stories come in.
Infographic is a well-known term in the marketing world, but what are data stories and instructographics? There is some debate about the differences between them all, especially when it comes to data stories, also known as data visualisations, and infographics. Whilst they hold some similarities, there are some key factors which make them quite distinct from each other.
What are infographics?
Infographics are created to tell a story about something. They can be about almost any topic, from how much plastic the world uses to what makes a successful mobile app; but they are always aimed at a specific audience. Essentially, if you have some interesting facts or data to share, infographics are the most accessible way to do it. They’re clear, look attractive and are therefore very shareable. Although your audience enjoys evergreens and blogs, remember that they often don’t have time to read the whole thing. An infographic provides a neat summary of the information they need to know, so they can be a welcome break from the walls of text they see all day, every day.
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Creating an infographic involves a lot of manual work. Someone has taken the time to create something that looks visually interesting, so people will actually want to spend their time reading it. A particularly good infographic has the potential to go viral.
How do instructographics differ?
You may have guessed from the name that instructographics and infographics are very similar. The only real difference between the two is that instructographics tell people how to do something. For example, an infographic might inform you about the most popular kitchen colours, whereas an instructographic would tell you how to paint your kitchen.
Instructographics usually cover a DIY task, but again, they can cover almost any topic. Just like an infographic, they have the potential to go viral and are made to look as attractive as possible. Although a well-written ‘how to’ guide can cover much more information than an instructographic, they often aren’t as visually appealing or easy to follow.
…and data visualisations?
Data visualisations are much like an unrefined infographic. They present quantifiable information and so are more likely to focus on numbers. In some cases, an entire data set is shown without editing and they rarely take a lot of handiwork to produce. They are much more likely to be generated by computer programs using algorithms, as their overall look isn’t too important.
They allow people to have access to all the data in a way that makes it easier to understand. Although they often do look visually appealing, they aren’t as attractive as infographics. This is because the data is far more important that the design. Many data visualisations are interactive and although infographics can be too, they’re often static. Moreover, an infographic can contain a data visualisation, but not the other way around.
If you have a lot of data to show, a data visualisation or story is probably the best way to present it. However, if you’re looking to attract a specific audience to your website, a well-crafted infographic or instructographic is a better choice.
We all love a good story, so instead of writing a text-heavy piece of content, forge your data into something that’s visually interesting and something people will want to share on their Facebook or Twitter profiles.