While you undoubtedly eat, sleep and breathe M2M and connected devices, Internet of Things companies often face the challenge of sharing passion for complex technologies with various audiences. How do you make people quickly understand how big data and the IoT work together? What embedded computing systems can do for healthcare? Or, describe the benefits of a sensor in a way that doesn’t make a non-technical person’s eyes glaze over? Infographics (information + graphics) are an increasingly popular medium to explain IoT. The concept – show, don’t tell -- has stood the test of time.
When you stop to think about it, cavemen recognized the power of visual storytelling and depicted some pretty big concepts in prehistoric cave paintings. For our ancestors, understanding prey and predators came under the category of must know vs. nice-to-know. The cave paintings found in the Lascaux Caves in southwestern France are not only impressive, but The Smithsonian Magazine writes that the graphical images were surprisingly accurate in their depiction of the way four-legged animals walk. Lesson learned? If the first infographics worked to explain life or death concepts, they’re a great way to explain technology. Remember, it’s a snapshot, not a novel. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Determine what you want to accomplish. What’s your key message? How can you boil that down into a few key facts and phrases.
- Who is your audience – CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, IT staff, the consumer market, etc.? Who will most value the information you are providing?
- Content is key to depicting your story. Make every word count, i.e., don’t do what we’re doing in this sentence and feel the need to be repetitive.
- Provide accurate data that supports your message. Quantity does not equal quality.
- Good design. Good design. Good design. ‘Nuff said.
- Show, don’t tell, and keep it simple.
- Be helpful. What value does the information provide? When in doubt, leave it out.
- What do you want the reader to do? Don’t forget a call for action. And add your name/logo at the bottom to give credit where credit’s due. Put it inside the box itself so it’s used properly by third parties.
Here are a few examples of infographics we love.
- Infographic from Intel: Billions of online objects, or the Internet of Things, are making the Web wiser; learn what it means for the future of possibility.
- Infographic from Cisco of the increase in “things” connected to the Internet: The Internet of Things.
- A public service infographic from the CDC about emergency preparedness and a family communications plan: Do 1 Thing.
- An annotated blueprint of the Saturn V rocket (with all the parts described using only the thousand most common English words) by Randall Munroe, author of “what if?” and creator of the webcomic xkcd: Up Goer Five.
If you’re looking for solid information on data visualization, we recommend “The Wall Street Journal: Guide to Information Graphics” by Dona Wong, former graphics director at The Wall Street Journal and business graphics editor at The New York Times. Of course, “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information," by Edward Tufte, a pioneer in data visualization and the infographic guru who coined the phrase “chartjunk.” Plus, you can’t go wrong with “Infographics for Dummies.”
And, if you’d like to find out how content + infographics can create connections for your IoT company, give Calysto a call or email Marissa Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org.