In the world of marketing and business, there are many different phrases and expressions tossed around. Two phrases that are often interchanged are the terms “infographic” and “data visualization.” While some people argue that the two terms are interchangeable, others believe that there is a marked difference between the two terms. Although both graphics are images formed by facts, they are not always the same. Generally, there are a few differences between infographics and data visulizations, which are outlined below:
The Definition of Data Visualization
Many sources agree that data visualization is a graphic representation of quantifiable data pulled from another source, like a research survey. They are often transformed into visuals like charts, maps, graphs, or pie charts. Often a coordinated system is used to create the visualization, including shapes, lines, points, and letters. The visualizations are context-free, and many programs can form them automatically by pulling data from a written source. Data visuliaztions are designed to allow data to represent itself in a visual form.
The Definition of an Infographic
The definition of an infographic is slightly different. An infographic can be defined as a graphical representation of data visualizations with other non-data elements, such as text. This is done to point out the relationships between the data, tell a story, or even show a process. Basically, an infographic is a visual explanation of data visualizations. An infographic combines hard facts with creative understanding and clarification of the data. Infographics are used in support of information or to strengthen it within a particular context. Infographics will often contain a higher number of symbols and pictures in the graphic. In some cases, the graphics are put together by hand, rather than completely computer generated.
The lines between the two types of graphics are often blurred. It is easier to distinguish between the two if you think of an infographic as more of an interpretation of data that may or may not be true, versus a data visualization as a visual guide to clearly identifiable facts. Many people use infographics to spread sensational information, but usually a data visualization is only used for proven facts and true information. However, it is possible to alter data even with data visualizations. The main difference between the two is that one is based solely on hard collected data, while the other is more creatively interpreted and visualized. Think about the difference as if it were the difference in right versus left brain thinking trying to explain the same information.
Knowing the difference between the two forms of visual representation can provide a variety of benefits. Knowing the difference can help you choose when to use each type of data. For business and educational use, data visualizations are the best choice. For entertainment purposes, or to explain other information visually, infographics are extremely helpful tools. Teachers, lecturers, business professionals, and students can all use both forms of data to help others understand their research and meaning behind facts and other information that they have gathered.
Guest Post by Nate Miller
This is a Guest Post by Nate Miller. Nate currently represents Infographic World, an award-winning infographic design company, specialized in creating visually stunning infographics to help brands communicate their message in a more powerful and effective manner.