As a researcher, I must be able to communicate complex ideas into simple concepts that the average person can comprehend easily and quickly. Most people don't have the time (nor the inclination) to really dive into the mountains of data – strategically competitive gold mines – they sit on. Very effective visuals (a.k.a. information graphics or info-graphics) are essential tools for researchers in communicating insights, only after the data has been cleaned, organized, rearranged, chopped in half, and taped back together again, that is.
Our team is always trying to find new ways to present data in a meaningful way. Especially for our internal clients who just need a quick visual to drive home a critical argument. In fact, I prefer to create a master deck or handbook that we can just pull from when people need various types of information. You need a chart of audience growth in the last 10 years – check, we've got it! You need a graph of age and household income broken out into ranges – check, here you go!
As a result of trying to meet our internal client needs, I often research information graphics to perhaps inspire new ideas of visualization, or to maybe learn a few tricks to add to our repertoire. I've been following and devouring more and more information from a community of design and statistician specialists that have full-blown careers in info-graphics. My favorite website thus far is FlowingData.com. This is the site that has really opened up my eyes to the industry, and it continues to introduce me to other industry experts.
So how did info-graphics come to be and where will it be in the future? Good question. And what better way to tell you than with an info-graphic in the form of a timeline:
Source: Wikipedia (a quick resource - humor me, will you?)
Meredith Heard is a Research Analyst for NPR's Corporate Sponsorship and Development.