Information Design: Making Facts Digestible

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Information Design: Making Facts Digestible

At present, we are living in the Information Age. Even though the overall circulation of newspapers continues to decline – with some seeing a decrease last year as high as 21% according to PressGazette [1] – the information we’re presented with is ironically the equivalent of 174 newspapers each day according to The Telegraph. [2] In fact, we individually produce the equivalent of 6 newspapers worth of content each day through emails, social media and even SMS. [2]

Despite all this information, we human beings are still visual creatures. ScienceDirect estimates 80% of external input to the brain is processed visually. [3] And, according to Changing Minds, 65% of this is likely to remain in our long-term memory compared to only 10% of written input. [4] Visuals have also proven to be more appealing to potential readers in almost all circumstances. Progressive Content have found that an infographic, for instance, is 30 times more likely to be read than pure text. [5]

It’s, therefore, hard to deny the importance of information design as part of your marketing. Not all of the information your business will need to share with your customers will be entertaining to read, but it can be made more entertaining and more engaging with a little design expertise. These are just some of the ways in which information design can improve the appearance and appeal of information you need to share…

Charts and Graphs

Particularly effective for representing statistics, using charts and graphs makes information faster and simpler to comprehend. This, in turn, creates a sense of trust for whoever may be looking at them, which is a vital component for brand loyalty. [6] They also make it easier to compare and contrast specific data, such as how a variable rises or falls over a specific amount of time, or with certain demographics.

Much like with most graphic design, the most effective means of designing a chart or graph is “less is more”. This doesn’t mean having less data but instead means keeping decoration and irrelevant information to a minimum, making it easier for the reader to get straight to the point. [7]


We all know the saying “a picture can say 1,000 words”, but did you know that MIT have discovered that the human eye can see a picture in as little as 13 milliseconds? [8] This is why pictograms are as popular as they are, from the highway code to toilet signs, as they allow the most important information to be conveyed in a very brief amount of time.

However, it is important to be careful about exactly how you design a pictogram. The connotations of a particular image can change drastically not only by what it is in what context but also the way in which it’s designed, including its shape, colour and style. [9]


It might seem obvious, but a typeface is in itself a form of visual communication since all typefaces of all classifications have their own connotations depending on the circumstances in which they’re used. Huge differences can be made depending on whether a certain type is done with a humanist, old style, cursive, or even decorative font.

For one thing, certain typefaces are more or less legible than others, hence why sans-serif humanist typefaces are becoming increasingly popular over serif ones. [10] For another, research by Errol Morris has shown that the exact same body of text can be made more or less trustworthy to the reader all depending on the typeface it was shown to them in, as well as change their emotions to be more or less positive. [11]


The layout and order of which your data is placed in is also an important factor in representing it. Making the most important text the largest isn’t reliable enough, as both can also make a big difference to its impact. A clear hierarchy creates a sense of focus for the reader, whilst an unclear one would become confused and distracting. [7]

Western civilisations read in a left-to-right and top-to-bottom direction, therefore it’s wise to assume that whoever’s reading the content will observe and absorb the same information in the same order.

Animations and Motion Graphics

Humans are naturally more drawn towards moving images than still ones. In fact, it was predicted by Medium in 2018 that more than 79% of online traffic for that year would be video-based content. [12] Moving images naturally create more appeal and engagement with the viewer, particularly when accompanied by audio.

Interactivity has also been shown to encourage a reader’s inner detective and engage directly with the content, particularly if there’s more complex data at hand and the viewer’s encouraged to simplify it to what they require. [7] Therefore, it is wise that a marketing campaign embraces motion graphics, animation and interactivity to at least some extent for when it is possible and cost-effective to do so.

Footnotes & References

  1. National newspaper ABCs: Industry-wide circulation decline continues as Metro and Sun top the table, PressGazette (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  
  2. Welcome to the information age – 174 newspapers a day, Telegraph (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  []  
  3. Functional representation of vision within the mind: A visual consciousness model based in 3D default space, ScienceDirect (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  
  4. Active Learning, Changing Minds (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  
  5. Five statistics about infographics, Progressive Content (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  
  6. How To Use Simple Visual Designs to Communicate Data, Forbes (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  
  7. Designing Effective Infographics, Nielsen Norman Group (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  []  []  
  8. In the blink of an eye: MIT neuroscientists find the brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds, MIT (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  
  9. The design, understanding and usage of pictograms, Cognition Usages (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  
  10. Top 20 fonts that will be popular with designers in 2019, Creative Boom (Accessed 17/06/2019) []  
  11. How Typography Affects Readers, Ad Push Up (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  
  12. This is Why Video is the Most Engaging Type of Content, Medium (Accessed 14/06/2019) []  

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