Infographics. You’re sure to have seen one if you’ve been around the internet at all. They are a creative and useful way to visualize information, help you make your point, and more importantly, keep the attention of those you’re trying to inform. Infographics can even help to improve the understanding of the data you’re trying to present. But where do they all come from? The best data visualization comes from professionals, of course. But professionals cost money. So how can a mere grad student, with no budget to speak of, hope to bring infographics into their research? Easy! There are a number of free infographic tools available on the web for you to use. Many are simple to use, others a little more complicated. All will take some learning, but with a little time and effort, you, too, can incorporate infographics and data visualization into your research. Below is a list of some of the ones I had the best time trying out, but there are many more to choose from if these don’t suit your needs.
Piktochart is quick and easy to use web based infographic creator. It consists of a drag and drop interface where you can place images, text, charts, and anything else you would need in your infographic. The various sections of your infographic are kept separated by the use of ‘blocks’ which can be added, copied, deleted, or resized to fit your needs. Piktochart comes with a number of preloaded backgrounds, pictures, and icons, but it also allows you to upload your own. You can start your infographic from scratch or choose one of the many premade templates to edit to serve your purposes. When you’re finished, download your infographic or post it on social media.
Venngage is slightly more complicated than Piktochart but also more precise. Venngage also uses a drag and drop interface, but the default background is a grid to allow for more precise placement of your infographic elements. It does not divide the content up into convenient boxes, but allows each element to be edited very specifically using a box to the side containing every aspect that can be manipulated. The preexisting templates can be more easily edited to suit the user’s needs.
Tableau Public is a little different from the other two. Instead of being a web based infographic creator, it is a downloadable program that allows you to create interactive data visualizations, and it’s actually really cool. Tableau Public can take data from various files, such as Excel spreadsheets, and converts them into graphs, charts, or maps that you can customize, filter, and arrange together in a ‘dashboard’ setup that can then be exported into HTML for inclusion on a website or blog. The data input has to be formatted properly, but the program takes care of the rest. Definitely check out the demonstration video on their homepage if you’re curious about how it works.
These are just a few of the numerous tools available. There are many more, from simple chart creating apps to social media statistic visualization software. The possibilities are endless. All you have to do is check them out.
For more help with infographics, stop in or contact the reference desk by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (518) 442-3691.
Blog post created by Alex Hoag
Photo source: learnnovators.com