The world is becoming increasingly visual – especially the online world. Thanks to social media and the explosion of sites such as Pinterest, displaying information in a visual way has become even more important. But it can be time consuming and even brain-boggling.
There are a host of tools out there though that can help you turn information into pretty good (and Pinterest-friendly) infographics in a matter of minutes. Here we take a look at some of the top contenders, how they work, what they cost and if they are worth your time (and money).
Still in beta, Infogr.am is a lovely interface that allows you to create dynamic or static infographics or charts with ease.
Pick a template or chart type, enter your data and go. You can add photos, text and even extra charts to your creations with a couple clicks and then publish to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or as a web link. (There is no print or downloadable option right now.) All of your finished infographics are saved to a library file for later use.
Graphics are clean and sharp, although the number of templates is limited. Infogr.am is planning pid options in the future. Colors are customizable within infographics to help you create something that matches your site or brand.
The best feature? You can upload data from your desktop. (This will work great for the spreadsheet you don’t know what to do with.)
Analysis: Templates offer a clean, designed way to present information in a hurry. Bonus points for the ability to create text-heavy infographics or charts or a combination of the two.
Visual.ly is the super-social network of infographics. The recently re-launched platform not only allows you to create infographics but also allows you to share your work and take a peek at other items that are of interest.
Visual.ly works in a template-based format with different design options for you to get started with working with data or other information. Select a graphic “story” and add your own customization for a quick and very visual representation of your information. You can download graphics in pdf format for print or web applications.
Finally, the site uses social media connections to create infographics. So be ready to share your Twitter and Facebook information. Visual.ly will work with users to create custom infographics for a fee.
The templates are well designed but there is a not a lot of room to change the overall look. The problem here is that you may create the same look as someone else. Since the early-summer update, new items seem to be rolling out consistently and I would keep an eye on this software to continue to evolve and add functionality.
Cost: Free, with social media linking.
Analysis: Templates are fun and have a fresh look. Infographic creation is simple but there are still a few software bugs and limited style of templates to choose form.
Piktochart’s web-based software could not be any easier to use. Choose a template. Enter your information. Save, download and share.
While the free version of the software is a great starting point if you only plan to create a graphic or two, the pro version really offers a great deal of functionality — you can customize all of the templates to change color schemes and fonts.
With any of the templates, you can add text and images to build a graphic for almost any purpose. The only thing you really have to worry about is whether the template you used has appeared somewhere else. (That’s where the customization options really become important.)
Cost: Free for basic plan; $ 129 annually for professional version.
Analysis: This tool helps you create quick and professional looking graphics from text in minutes. If you plan to use it frequently, upgrade to the pro version to remove branded watermarks, get access to added customization options and access to many more templates.
Stat Silk allows users to create interactive charts and graphs that are customizable. The tool seems perfect for anyone who uses a lot of maps and mapping data.
Animations are based on Flash and users can use base maps provided by Stat Silk or upload their own. The tool is super-customizable but can be a little complicated for novice users. The StatPlanet World Bank application was a first prize winner in the World Bank Apps for Deveopment and the software is used by big-name clients worldwide.
The business model for the Stat line of products in interesting. The license-free software “seeks to promote the use of data visualization by non-profit and government organizations and organizations in low income countries,” according to the website. Further it is used to promote data visualization of any kind.
Analysis: This is a pretty cool tool, depending on the type of visualizations you are trying to create. The software can be a little clunky at first glance but works well with a little practice.
Google public data is a great resource for finding (and charting) public information. Want to know the U.S. unemployment rate? Just do a quick search and get a chart in return.
This can be a great tool but is really only relevant to a few sectors and those who are looking for specific public information. But if you fall in those categories, it can be a great place to start.
Analysis: The graphics are simple – no bells and whistles here. But the data network is expansive and sourced well if you need public data charted in a jiffy.
Datameer is marketed as a business product that helps you create simple yet, striking data visualizations. It is strictly for those dealing in numbers.
The software runs from your desktop, rather than being online-based, and includes a library of tables, charts, maps, and tag clouds to make it easy to visualize data.
Datameer comes with a pretty nice price tag and does not include some of the more “fun” functionality and templating of other programs. What it does is add an additional layer of sophistication to business graphics.
Cost: Personal accounts are $ 299 annually.
Analysis: Great for business owners focused on numerical data who are looking to create sharper graphics with ease.
Word clouds seem to have fallen out of favor recently but they are still a fun and effective tool. Wordle helps you create beautiful, colorful word clouds with minimal effort.
The interface is easy to use and clouds can be printed or saved and used online. The simple feature creates a cloud from a URL. But it is the advanced features are the most impressive. You can paste in words and assign weights to them, define colors for text and backgrounds and even set up a Wordle on your site that users can interact with.
Analysis: This is a super-fun tool. And the overall look is far better than the basic blog-based word cloud tool.
Visualization tools seem to be popping up all over the place. They can be a fun, quick (and super easy) way to put text into a graphic format, but they are not something most designers will want to rely on.
Most of these tools do not allow for the degree of control that many graphic designers or artists would like to have on their work. Some also have that “templated” look and the different information could pop up with the same look on different places.
If you want to ensure that an infographic has your signature look and feel, take the time to create something from scratch. But if you are looking for a simple, quick way to compile data, one of these tools might be perfect for your next project.
Image Source: Internet Map.