A picture says more than a thousand words, and a graphic says more than an excel spread sheet. Infographics have the power to make big data more easily understood and shared. So far, we marketers have had to rely on the help of graphic designers with varying expertise in number-crunching to produce infographics. In my own experience, this was often a complex collaboration that made me wary of pushing the boat out. Now there are a number of web apps that make data visualisation easy for marketers without graphic design tools. The first infographics app I tested is infogr.am.
Infogr.am is a cloud-based app from a start-up based in latvia. It is dead easy to build a graphic, by selecting a theme, a chart, import data or create on the fly, and it allows you to insert your own images as well. The infographic above took me less than 30 minutes to build, and I spent more time selecting the photo than working on the chart.
Though there are only five themes to choose from, the choice of chart types and customisation options make it a versatile tool. The “store coming soon” button on the homepage hints at a wider premium choice in the future. Infogr.am has a community concept similar to instagram, you can sign in with your facebook or twitter login, your work will stored in the cloud, public and sharable. As the infographics have interactive features, they are suitable for websites and blogs, less so for powerpoint or pdf, where static images are required.
I tested another data visualisation app, piktochart, founded in malaysia and led by a ceo with a background in statistics. Piktochart has a wider choice of customisation options, which means it is more complex than infogr.am. Too complex for me in fact. Piktochart seems ideal for users with a graphic or web design background. There are some frustrating bugs (or was it a user error – the tutorial did not help) and despite a wider choice of colours, icons, font types etc, it seemingly does not offer more chart types in the free version. There is, however, a large number of themes available for a premium upgrade. The very basic graphic above took me nearly an hour to create, including some amount of swearing.
All in all, I consider infogr.am superior in look and ease of use. At the moment it’s my data visualisation tool of choice for web.
Both piktochart and infogr.am allow users to embed infographics. Unfortunately, my blog host, wordpress, does not allow embedded iframes on their site. Very disappointing, wordpress, I’m sure you can do better!