Smart information design helps simplify life

Smart information design – the basis of good ‘infographics’ and data visualizations – can help users to understand complex data and information much more quickly, and let them drill into areas of interest to them. In some cases, these tools can provide greater insight and depth than text alone. Infographics are the weather forecast graphs in newspapers, the public transport maps used to help you plan your journey in to work, and the graphs and charts representing statistical data used in media reports about trends and the daily business of companies. Our Reuters graphics team publish around 50 graphics a day to our financial and media customers alone.

Maryanne Murray, global head of Graphics in Reuters said: “Both infographics and data visualizations have a role to play. The main difference between the two is how users interact with them – in whether they need an explanation or exploration.”

Infographics explain things. They distill complicated material and present it in a clear, linear way. Since our brains instantaneously recognize patterns (and where they deviate), reading a graphic is the fastest way to take in a trend or statistical outlier. Infographics can also free a story of dense explanatory text, allowing the author to focus on storytelling.

Visualizations, on the other hand, enable readers to interact with huge data sets in a manageable and meaningful way. And critically, they foster further exploration.

Infographics and data visualizations can be found in many areas of our business in printed and digital formats – in articles on Reuters.com, in business and financial reports, and in our desktop products.

Here’s just a few examples:

  • Check out our 2012 Annual Report. The Change into Opportunity series uses infographics to simplify and unify complex sets of data, and illustrate the ways in which the ability to see and understand change can reveal powerful opportunities.
  • Browse the relationship maps, step-by-step explainers, maps, charts and timelines used in the ‘graphic of the day’ section on the Knowledge Effect blog. Examples of charts and timelines include this graphic showing deepwater Oil and gas discoveries, Check out this map showing the devastating path of the Oklahoma tornado. Sometimes it’s just more effective (and fun) to show a picture of a complex technical topic, like in our feature ‘Moon mission comes to an end’.
  • A complex issue can be better understood with the use of creatively designed video infographics, combining animated storytelling, visual text and an engrossing voice-over to make complex issues understandable, memorable and to highlight certain points explicitly. An example most of us know is the short video used on many flights before take-off, to run through the safety procedures.
  • Our Corporate Overview video provides a great example where the floating infographics infer the depth of data and services we offer.
  • Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge has used this captivating method for its Data Citation Index, an exciting new research tool.

Interactive data visualizations:

Check out more infographics here, which are also some of the most popular content on our Facebook page, and Twitter.