July 8, 2012

Pushbutton Infographics

There's been a recent flurry of new offerings in the world of on-line tools for creating and publishing infographics, so I thought I'd provide a brief overview of the main protagonists. Some are new (still in beta), others are more established (have been around for a couple of years). The tools all follow a similar format: they provide a set of templates to which you add your content, and then publish the result. Easy.

Visual.ly has been around for a while and is probably best known as a clearinghouse for infographics - a YouTube for infographics if you like. Visual.ly recently added the ability to create infographics. Currently, it offers only a handful of templates based on social media (Facebook and Twitter) themes. In order to use these you must sign-in to your Facebook or Twitter account and allow access to the Visual.ly app. An example infographic created from one of these templates is shown below.

At this stage Visual.ly's offering is quite limited but more "cutomizable infographics in popular categories, like sports, politics and food" are promised soon.

I think Visual.ly's most valuable resource is its blog. Making it easy to create infographics is only one piece of the puzzle. It's important to be able to create good infographics, especially if you want to stand out from the deluge of rubbish that's out there. Visual.ly's blog offers valuable advice on how to craft high-quality infographics.

Easel.ly is a more recent entrant in the field of push-button infographics - it's still in beta. I've included Easel.ly's promotional video below, which provides a quick introduction to how it works.

Easel.ly describes itself as "a theme-based web-app for creating infographics and data visualizations." Like Visual.ly it provides a selection of templates. The choice is broader than that offered by Visual.ly - 15 templates are currently available - and you don't have to connect your Facebook or Twitter account. You can also start with a blank canvas.

You can then drag-and-drop "objects" (icons from a variety of categories), "shapes" (arrows, symbols, etc.) and text boxes onto your template. These can be customised (colour and size) once in place. You can also upload your own images for inclusion in your infographic.

Once your infographic is complete it can be published via Easel.ly for embedding in other Web pages.


Infogr.am is another new kid on the infographics block. It is quite similar to the others in that it's template-based. There are two types of template to choose from:
  • infographics: of which there are eight templates
  • charts: bar chart, pie chart, line chart, glyph matrix and frog chart (yes, really)
Each of the infographics templates includes one or more charts. One nice feature is that in customising a chart you provide the actual data for the chart to visualize. This is presented via a spreadsheet GUI. As well as charts you can add accompanying text (title, quotes, free text) and insert your own images.

Once you've completed an infographic you can publish it via Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, or embed it in other Web pages.


Venngage is the latest offering from the creators of Visualize.me. It is perhaps the most complete on-line infographic tool of those considered here. So much so, that Venngage costs money ($99 per month for individuals; $249 per month for teams).

As with the other tools, Venngage is template-based; you can also start with a blank canvas. Venngage's infographics editor is a point-and-click affair. A large selection of charts is available. Each is backed by data you provide by either uploading it or entering it via a speadsheet UI. Shapes, text and images can also be added.

Number Picture

Number Picture has been around the longest of the services considered here - I've blogged about it before. The infographics templates that Number Picture provides are fairly simple having only a title, "blurb" (text block) and "picture" (chart). To create an infographic you supply the text and data. The latter is rendered as a picture.

Number Picture's emphasis is different from the others' in that it encourages users to create and share templates. The templates are created using Processing.js. Working with Processing.js is fairly easy for those of us from coding backgrounds but for non-coding folks this might be a problem, especially, if the existing templates don't provide what's needed.

Most of the tools I've discussed are fairly basic but have enough functionality to allow you to create a simple infographic. Venngage is the most complete offering but whether it's worth the money they're asking remains to be seen. All the tools make it easy to create infographics. However, creating good infographics is a different story.

There are many other on-line tools for creating data visualizations - too many for a single post - so here I've focussed on infographics tools. If I've missed any (or you have anything to contribute) then please leave a comment.