Infographics as a cure for marketing sameness

Edward Tufte is a statistician, author, lecturer and graphic design legend.

His seminal work, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, is considered by many to be the go-to book on data visualization and has been described by as no less than one of the “best 100 books of the 20th century”.

Pick it up. If you’re a visual design nerd like myself, it’s gorgeously fascinating.

So it was a pleasant surprise to hear that last week, Tufte was charged by the Obama Administration to help communicate and visualize the progress of the $787 billion stimulus program. (For more on the appointment, Newsweek has the scoop.) Not only is this great news for fans of Tufte but it also bodes well for the advancement and acceptance of the art of the information graphic (infographic) as well.

It’s about time.

Simply put, the art of the infographic lies in taking complex information and communicating it visually in a quick and easy fashion. It’s easier said than done. But when done right the results can be stunning.

Here are some of my favorite examples of recent infographics. (Click on any of the thumbnails to view the image at a larger scale)

Real estate strikes me as a particularly rich untapped vein for the infographic.

Within companies of all sizes data twiddles its thumbs waiting, wanting, hoping to be exposed to the world. The number of agents, numbers of homes sold, percentage of closings vs. listings, selling price vs. listing price… you get the picture.

So why not take a cue from Edward Tufte (“the Galileo of graphics”) and do something beautiful with all that data. It doesn’t take much. You need the data, the vision and a designer to render it.

It’s easy to tell the world how different you are. It’s not that hard to express it by licensing some data rendered into pie charts and graphs to illustrate it. But to turn data into something beautiful and meaningful – art – speak volumes.