Pictures tell a thousand data points [Infographics]14/06/2011 16:40 by Laura Fry
GfK TechTalk is developing a new series of posts around the work we’re doing to marry information and communication in a story of beauty, creativity and good research sense. Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing our examples of work we’ve built around infographics, animation and video, all designed to help overcome the challenge of information overload, help businesses see more from research, and capture our audiences’ imaginations when telling stories about technology, ideas, business and society.
The last time you searched for information online, how many returns were there? And the last time you needed to find some evidence to support an argument or theory, how many books, magazines and publications did you consult? What about businesses, how many sources of data do you think they track, monitor, and purchase on an average day to understand what their customers think and want, what the market is doing and what their competitor’s next moves may be? The answer is lots. Heaps. Tons. More than, perhaps, we can imagine.
As consumers, marketers and decision makers, we live in a world in which information is in plentiful supply. We have more tools, methods and approaches than ever to help us become more informed, more knowledgeable, better prepared, more creative and more strategic in our thinking. Wow! But what do we do when all of this information starts flooding our inboxes, our hard drives, clouds, conversations and thoughts? How do we filter out what’s important, what can make a difference, what’s truly meaningful? And how do we find meaning and relevance to our unique contexts when everything we come across seems ‘critical’ or comes packaged with the words ‘key findings’?
At GfK, we’re always looking for answers to questions and lately, we’ve been looking for the answers to tackling the challenge of information overload. As researchers, we’re guilty of contributing to more and more matter to the information universe (I use ‘universe’ to paint a picture – more on this later). And we’re becoming more and more aware of how time-consuming, complex and confusing it can seem trying not to get lost in this universe is for our clients and audiences. Routing around trying to find some gravity to lead us where we need to go, or discover somewhere we’d never considered, is becoming a preoccupation that businesses just cannot afford when the decisions being made as a result carry greater weight and significance. For tech businesses in particular, fast-paced innovation and a hungry mobile population, means information streams are constant and the universe keeps growing. Trying to find that which has real meaning and significance to the unique needs of any one company is rare in relation to the sheer volumes available.
So we’ve turned the world of design for some help in ensuring the information we deliver to businesses helps overcome the challenge of information overload and limits the potential of getting lost when looking for answers, solutions, evidence and opportunities. We want to leave businesses with meaningful and significant insight and opportunities that can be seen and heard without the potential of getting lost in some black hole of infinite irrelevance and ‘noise’. What design can do for information is what the telescope can do to the night sky – helps anyone point a lens and see more from what they’re looking at. We believe information should be clear, concise, loud and relevant to make sure audiences – even non-researchers(!!) – get the message and won’t be cast aside in the ‘that means nothing to me’ bin, or worse, the ‘what a waste of money’ bin.
At GfK, design has already been helping us tell stories of facts and context in high impact and visual ways. In particular, we’ve been using infographics to help us tell stories from data in more visual ways. I’ve used visual aids throughout this piece to help tell my story – remember my references to space, gravity, telescopes etc?? With design however, we can construct our stories to achieve particular goals around communicating relevant messages to our audiences.
Let us show you what we mean. Below are two examples of ways in which we might choose to communicate the same information and data.
Information overload is a problem we all face through being bombarded with lots and lots of information
Sources of information that bombard us on a daily basis include:
Which approach did you prefer?
No doubt most of us will be naturally drawn towards Example 2 as a method for communicating the messages around information overload; firstly, what it is and secondly, what it means for us on a daily basis. Marrying design with information has helped us create a visual solution to telling this story and has done so in a captivating and compelling way, as opposed to example 1 which opts for more traditional means of presenting data thanks to Windows tables and text. The use of design to create an infographic also offers something for us to share with others. Something we feel compelled to pass on, take away and shout about because of the balance between the eye catching visual and the depth of content.
GfK have many other examples of how applying design to information and storytelling helps audiences see more, understand more and want to share more. Stay tuned to this new series of blogs where we will be showing you more examples of our work around communicating facts, figures and stories in highly visual, compelling and exciting ways. We’re developing our skills around infographics, design, animation and video in order to make our work go further towards helping businesses and organisations make big decisions, as well as giving an even greater voice to our passion for research and technology.
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