“I’m hungry,” you think to yourself as you drive through the land of strip malls. “I’m going to stop at the first restaurant that pops out at me.” But there’s a brown and tan strip mall. And there’s a green and beige one. All the signs are the same color. Not one establishment stands out over the rest. In fact, you’re not even sure what places are selling food and which ones are offering to do your taxes.
Sometimes, internal office communications can feel like a bland strip mall – lots of information, no color, nothing worth committing to memory. It’s time to put infographics to work for you.
Infographics are a visually appealing and succinct way to distribute information – but are they truly effective at helping people remember stats? Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) say indeed they are, and their visualization study results – which analyzed people’s eye movements while they looked at infographics and charts – make the case for why you should be using infographics to communicate with your employees.
1. Our Brains Process Visuals Better Than Text
If you feel like your employees are missing the message, stop to consider whether you’re overloading them with text. You don’t have to communicate by emoji only, but 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Toss the minimalist bar charts and graphs because they all just blend into one. Add recognizable daily objects like photos, people, cartoons, body parts, and logos, and finesse your text so that your infographic is not only visually engaging but mentally stimulating, effective, and memorable (this anti-smoking infographic from a nursing school is utterly fantastic).
2. Titles Matter
While visuals are awesome and important, as they contain the color and shapes that draw the eye, the text of your infographics is still important. The Harvard-MIT study found that people actually spend the most time on the text of a visual – above all, the title. The visuals and titles work in tandem to create a powerful take-away message. So make your titles snappy, descriptive, and meaningful enough to add something to the infographic instead of aiming for quirky and attention-grabbing that will be forgotten as soon as it’s read.
3. People Retain andRecall Content Better With Pictures and Graphics
If you’re flabbergasted that your managers didn’t recall the stats about last year’s budget meeting, ask yourself if the information was buried in a thick document or text-heavy memo. When people have associations that enable them to remember content, you’ll arm yourself with a better-informed staff that is able to recall specific details that might otherwise be forgotten. Pictograms don’t “dumb down” complex topics, according to the study. In fact, when used thoughtfully, pictograms dramatically improve information recall.
4. You Can Be Repetitive Without Being Overtly Redundant
Infographics allow you to repeat the same message several different ways, reinforcing a fact or statistic’s importance among your employees. For example, if you want to compare the number of leads generated by visits to two different conferences, you can write out the information, add the digits in a large font, and include a visual of stick figures (or cookies, if they fit) to give readers a sense of scale and contrast. All of these strategies, according to the Harvard-MIT study, make viewers more likely to remember the data you’ve put forth as well as the larger message.
5. Color Is Your Friend
No matter how married you are to your organization’s branding message, no matter how much you reinforce to everyone in your enterprise that branding is key, companywide communication or targeted correspondence between departments can be seriously heightened by some outside-the-box color schemes. Infographics are a way to impart serious and important information playfully. An earlier Harvard study found that visualizations with over six colors are more memorable, more cluttered and visually dense infographics are more easily remembered, and unusual charts like tree diagrams with round or curvy lines are more aesthetically pleasing.
“See” for yourself the power of infographics – peruse a few of ours!