Aside from my consulting work, I previously served as the head of corporate design for a large company here in Pennsylvania. I had a discussion with one of my coworkers over a project involving infographics. The “heated discussion” arose when I received stacks of data information and no idea what proper procedures to use to form them into statistics. Also, it is not my specific duty to analyze the data.

After thirty minutes of back and forth with a person who does not know graphic design, I got him to understand the difference between Stats vs. Data about creating infographics.

Let start by defining each:

Statistics: The practice or science of collecting and analyzing numerical data in large quantities, especially to infer proportions in a whole from those in a representative sample.

Data: The quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, being stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media.

“To put more easily, Statistics are the results of data analysis.”

To put more easily, Statistics are the results of data analysis. It usually comes in the form of a table or chart, and Data is analyzed and interpreted to answer “why” or “how.” Data is used establish patterns and explain some phenomena.

It breaks down specifically for designers into two areas: infographics vs. data visualization.

Infographics

Infographics are subjective. Infographics are specific facts used to tell a story of some kind, which targets a particular audience. The information is readily shareable and accessible to that specific audience. The overall appearance of the infographic should be instantaneous. The reader knows and understands within seconds of eye contact. The most common things in Infographics are Illustrations, Icons, and Typography used to accent the critical content of a fact or statistic.

Data Visualization

Data visualization is objective and unbiased. It is “set in stone” and doesn’t differ based on the reader/audience. The graphic design of the Data visualization is secondary to the data itself as if it is only to gain your attention. The primary purpose of Data Visualizations is to help data sets make more sense, and create in in an easily accessible form. Data Visualizations are more likely to be generated automatically through a generation system of some kind, perhaps a logarithm or other mathematical formula.

Conclusion

What is the difference between an infographic and a data visualization? Infographics can have data visualizations in it, but not vice versa. Alternatively, put simply, Infographics are refined data or the sum of a data visualization.