Infographics: What they are, how to make 'em

The recent past has seen an explosion online of infographics, many of which are quickly and virally disseminated. In fact, is a whole website devoted to the discipline. The field certainly isn’t new, and lately designers have been able to create some really wonderful infographics by leveraging computers. But what exactly is an infographic, anyway?

Karyn Lurie Rossen, a former-lawyer-turned-designer (see, there is a second life for disgruntled lawyers!) beautifully answers this question with a terrific and concise infographic (above). In illustrating one medium (infographics’ ability to convey data in a visual format), Rossen also employs another popular medium with an online following of its own: LEGO bricks.

The online popularity of LEGOs stems from nostalgia as well as their functionality, which make them a popular tool for designers and creatives. With relatively few blocks, much information can be conveyed. For example, here are characters from pop culture constructed in a minimalist fashion by German ad agency Jung von Matt. Can you guess who they all represent? (The answers can be found here.)

If you’re interested in creating your own infographics to wow your boss who hates your PowerPoint color scheme, here are some tips from an expert at them — Wired magazine:

Find the story in the data
There’s a popular misconception that creating a great infographic just requires hiring a great graphic designer. But even the best designer can only do so much with poor material. Mapping out the key points in your narrative should be the first order of business. “The most accessible graphics we’ve ever done are the ones that tell a story. It should have an arc, a climax and a conclusion,” [ CEO Stew] Langille says. When you find a great data set, mock up your visualization first and figure out what you want to say, before contacting a designer.

Photo credits: Hot Butter Studio/; Jung von Matt/Moresay