What makes a successful infographic?

Fresh from finishing a hefty new book of infographics, the Delayed Gratification team chats with CR about the format’s boom in popularity, and how, at the heart of it, it’s all about the story

In the last decade, infographics have become the medium of choice for newspapers and magazines trying to offer concise visual overviews of complex data. A large part of this movement was spurred on by data journalist David McCandless’s 2009 book, Information is Beautiful, which, as one Amazon reviewer has commented, “launched a thousand infographics”.

The medium is actually far older however, dating back to before Florence Nightingale. She might be known in popular imagination as the lady with the lamp, but her hand-drawn diagrams, created in the 1850s, helped show that soldiers in the Crimean War had largely died from preventable diseases, and helped lobby for better sanitation in the British Army.

“We think [infographics] are a perfect storm of the amount of data that is now available, and produced, and everybody can get access to,” says Delayed Gratification art director Christian Tate of the format’s current popularity. The magazine – set up in 2011 with a ‘slow journalism’ philosophy and a penchant for infographics – has just released a new book, entitled An Answer for Everything: 200 Infographics to Explain the World, which delves into topics including how much it would cost to buy everything in Vogue, what do UFOs look like and, for anyone experiencing existential crisis, is anything getting better?

All images courtesy Bloomsbury