We live in an age of constant, non-stop media-saturation. By the time you’ve arrived in the office by 9am, you’ve opened multiple applications on your phone, read a few emails, tweeted, and checked in on foursquare. By noon, you’re expected to have read the news, covered all the important blogs, tackled your over-crowded email, and finished half your to-do list for the day. The amount of information we process on an hourly basis is growing exponentially, which means something big for Design: the advent of infographics.
Visual communication has always been an important element in the way we process information, but never before has design been so relevant in every communication effort we interact with. As Jon Bergher says in his film Ways of Seeing, "seeing comes before words," and with so little time to process those words, the initial view of a document can be all the attention it gets.
So along come infographics – the ingenious practice of condensing mounds of information into one compact graphic composition. As every single type of written word becomes threatened by the digital revolution, information in paragraphs of Times New Roman 12 pt type doesn't stand a chance.
Resumes, for example, now need to take it to never-before-required levels of creativity to stand out of the crowd. When Chris Spurlock, a journalism student at the University of Missouri, posted his infographic resume online after graduation, the power of an infographic really showed itself.
He probably didn't realize that a resume, of all things, could go viral on the internet, but his did -- soon, even the Huffington Post had covered how awesome his resume was. In recent months, infographics are everywhere, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before they became automated. Soon-to-be graduates like myself are going to have to think of something else to compete against Chris Spurlock, because the new website Vizualize.me is automating the infographic-creation process and using your Linkedin resume to build visual resumes for everyone.
Here's an example of a Vizualize.me resume:
Crap. Now everyone is a designer! I don't know what democratizing the process means for the future of design, infographics, and resume-creation, but Vizualize.me can't possible be very appealing to designers. I don't know about other design-minded creatives entering the industry, but I feel threatened.
The only thing that gets me about the onslaught of infographics (they are honestly everywhere, and they're multiplying like rabbits) is that I have always loved them, and they are going to become watered down FAST. The Visualize.me examples may be more exciting that a traditional resume, but they're not well-done infographics. Putting together an infographic is 1 part design, 2 parts math and logic, and organizing information well visually can't be done across the board by inserting data into a logarithm. Once the data or process is organized on paper, the infographic should be a unique organization of that information in visual form. Visualize.me is going to attempt to use the same process to turn anyone's Linkedin information into graphics, and I don't see that working very well.
Keeping in mind what really powerful infographics can accomplish, here's one of my favorite sources for great information design: GOOD Infographics. Here are two of my favorite infographics they've posted this year, the first by Hyperakt and the second by Column Five.