Are your infographics feeling a little “stuck?” Are they begging to have a little more motion?
If you’ve ever been scrolling through the seemingly endless amount of design content out there, you realize that there’s a lot to compete with. But in our designers’ experience, when a design moves, it really ‘pops.’
In the world of SEO, anything that makes your audience stop and be wowed is cause for celebration. Adding movement is one way to do that.
- What Is an Animated Infographic?
- Why Animated Infographics?
- When Animation is Unsuccessful
- Animated Infographic Examples
- How to Utilize Animation Successfully
What Is an Animated Infographic?
An animated infographic is any sort of visual representation of information that incorporates movement through animation. These can take on a number of different forms, from long-form infographics that use looping GIF animations, to full-length explainer videos that utilize a full range of animations to explain their story.
Why Animated Infographics?
With infographics, taking lots of complex information and crafting a fun, understandable design can be a great opportunity to use animation and elevate your infographic’s reach.
Animation allows things to pop out of thin air, zip past your screen, and bounce up-and-down. That blimp you created for the aeronautics infographic? Well now it can sail around your infographic thanks to animation! Motion can give your infographic new impact.
But with any tool in your designer’s toolbox, animation is something to be used purposefully and for better storytelling.
Sometimes a topic is difficult to explain on a static infographic. There might be a chemical reaction, mechanical syncopation, situational nuance or implied movement that isn’t properly contextualized or “fleshed-out” with static images. Animation can be the solution to better visualize these complex ideas and make some topics really “click” with your audience.
Think about creating an infographic that explains how you might train your dog to follow a series of commands (sit, stay, etc). You might explain the gestures you need to use, the verbal commands you need to give, and what your dog should do once those commands are given.
Now a static infographic could achieve this with three or four step-by-step images for each command and the audience might get the idea.
On the other hand you could create a single animation for each command, displaying what the dog owner should do and how a dog should respond. This way, you’re creating a start-to-finish guide with a single animated image and showcasing how the training process works in sync!
Adding motion here is beneficial for a number of reasons:
- A single animation uses less space on the infographic, allowing it to be more concise and digestible.
- The infographic is now able to more accurately explain its ideas with the addition of motion.
- The infographic is more engaging and set apart from the competition, leading to more shareability and a higher rank in search engines.
Reach a Wider Audience
It’s no surprise that people love motion; our brains are trained to notice it. Adding motion to an infographic not only benefits how you display information, it creates a more engaging experience for your audience, which subsequently has greater potential to be shared by more people and reach a wider audience.
Take this infographic about how earthquake-proof buildings are designed:
Now think about the story: an infographic showcasing the different techniques and designs used by buildings to thwart earthquakes. This type of content is begging for movement! After all, earthquakes don’t make things stand still! With the help of animation, the infographic was able to tell a more engaging story, and as a result was able to reach a wider audience with an impressive 25 links.
When Animation is Unsuccessful
Animation is a great addition to your designs, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Animation is a tool and should be used intentionally to aid your story, not just make things flashy. In other words, just because you ‘can’ doesn’t mean you ‘should.’ There are some instances where animation can actually hinder your audience engagement.
For one thing, animated infographics tend to be larger files. A 1500px-tall GIF will likely yield an average file size of 2MB or more. For some websites, displaying a larger image like that can take a toll on processing speed and pages can load slower than normal. That sacrifices crucial seconds where you can lose your audience because the infographic didn’t display correctly.
Additionally, the infographic’s runtime can also increase your file size. The average looping animated infographic is between 3-6 seconds long, but anything beyond that might require a video format instead of a GIF.
In some cases you can lose out on visual quality as well. Because animated file sizes tend to be larger, these infographics will likely need to be optimized for websites, causing them to be displayed at a lower resolution. And if the infographic can’t be optimized to display on your webpage, you may have to resort to other methods like placing the infographic as an attachment or using a different file format—and even of those present challenges with shareability and audience engagement.
Finally, animated infographics take more time to make! Animation is an extra step that takes time to look professional, but if your content is time-sensitive and you don’t have an extra few days to animate, then maybe it’s not the route you should take!
Animated Infographic Examples
Staying inspired and seeing what’s possible is a great way to help gather ideas and develop your animated infographics. Here are some examples of well-executed infographics that benefit from animation:
One beauty of animated infographics is their ability can take a process that happens very slowly, like construction of a tunnel, and speed it up so the audience comprehends them quickly.
Sometimes a subject needs a more inventive visual representation. In this case, adding musicians instead of office workers creates the opportunity to showcase some fun movement.
When there’s some kind of chemical reaction or intricate process in your story, animation provides the opportunity to slow things down so the audience can see what’s going on.
Some step-by-step guides greatly benefit from the use of animation through simple, easily-understood visuals.
Animated infographics provide opportunities to craft better examples for your content. If you need to showcase a mobile app’s interactive features, show it with movement!
Whenever utilizing a theme of an infographic, see if it calls for movement to help create a sense of energy and make it stand out!
Animation can also be used to bring a viewer’s eyes further down the infographic. In this example, the gasoline traveling through the car was used to tie the components together and lead you down the page.
Using movement can call attention to important data points and direct viewers’ eyes through a dense infographic.
Animation is an especially good way to give people and characters illustrations movement and action that brings them to life!
In some cases, animation provides the opportunity to show things more accurately than static images. In this example, animating how each one of Google’s programs analyze the word “Rabbit” helps viewers better understand and differentiate each program’s function.
Showing before-and-after images can be an effective way to tell a story. In this example, the addition of animation seamlessly shows how rising temperatures bring objects and temperatures from point A to point B.
Animation can even benefit standalone images and give illustrations more pop!
Cross-sections can be aided with the addition of movement to display what exactly is happening inside of them.
Whenever a subject matter isn’t physical or entirely tangible, like bitcoin, animation gives the opportunity to play with the subject matter as if it were something physical in order to better illustrate your message.
A single one can have a lot of movement happening at once to optimize time. Numbering can help bring attention to important pieces then explained elsewhere in the article.
Animation allows something to be broken apart and placed back together again, allowing the viewer to dissect each component individually and see how they fit together.
There’s a lot that can happen inside an animated infographic. Some examples make you just stop and search for all the little things going on.
Animation can also keep your audience’s attention by holding back information then revealing it later. In this example, showing the street sign without any text and then showing the answer makes it a kind of guessing game for viewers.
Going the extra mile to add movement in your designs can also make your content look more professional, making your company seen with more expertise and legitimacy.
Showing how certain equipment and tools are used in a process can be better understood with the addition of animation.
Animated components don’t have to be big and expressive. Sometimes a single, subtle movement like the blink of an eye or objects floating up-and-down can add visual interest.
How to Utilize Animation Successfully
Think About Animation First
Make animation part of the conversation during the conception phase so that everyone understands what needs to be accomplished. Shoehorning animation into an infographic after it’s been designed is a less effective way to make a captivating infographic and tends to create an infographic that just “moves” rather than an infographic that actually “elevates.”
Much like video game graphics or french fries, “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better.” A video game is only as good as its gameplay and french fries are only as good as their taste. Similarly, infographics are only as good as the information they deliver, so when creating an infographic, look for ideas that will make more sense through the addition of motion and tell a better story.
Know What You’re Going to Animate
When a designer or animator knows that a project will require motion, they’ll likely plan their design concepts around this. You wouldn’t buy baking ingredients first and then find out what you’re baking later! Giving designers the heads up about animation will ensure they know what they’re making and maximize their potential to deliver an awesome infographic.
Design First, Then Animate
Making changes during the design phase is much easier than during the animation phase. To save headaches and time, approve the static design before animation takes place.
Move It or Lose It, People
Animated infographics are a great way to elevate your designs, explain abstract ideas, contextualize data and keep your audience engaged with your content. When planned in advance and used intentionally, animation will give your infographics the optimal lift they need to serve your infographic needs.
If you want to take your infographics even further you can learn more about some amazing interactive infographics designed to take data and audience engagement to the next level.