How to use icons and infographics for best effect

What’s the difference between icons and infographics?

Sometimes there is just no escaping the need for large amounts of detailed text on a subject. Often however, this data can be broken up, made more easily digestible and thus enhanced, by the use of either strategically placed icons, or the creation of a bespoke infographic. Both icons and infographics can also be valuable in marketing a concept, campaign, or even a business service. To get the most value it’s important to know the difference between the two (this will also massively help should you need to brief a designer!); despite the two terms frequently being used interchangeable they are in fact very different things – so keep the designer in your life happy by checking out our handy explainer!

Icons

Icons are simple images, commonly illustrations, usually small, that are used to represent a concept or an object. They are often used throughout websites and apps as navigational elements, and they can be particularly helpful in conveying complex information easily and across language barriers. For example, a trash can icon is universally recognised as meaning “delete.” Icons are therefore deliberately simple so as to be easy to understand. They’re not meant to be detailed or provide a lot of information. Instead, they’re designed to be visually appealing and memorable. That’s why they’re often used in situations where space is limited, such as on websites or in email signatures.

Infographics

Infographics, on the other hand, are a whole different beast. They’re more complex visuals that are used to tell a story or convey information without simply writing everything out. Infographics usually incorporate icons but they can also, and often do, include imagery, charts, and graphs to help the intended audience understand a detailed idea without having to process masses of text, alternatively they’re often used to break down the various stages of an activity.

So – while one or some or many icons might make up an infographic, icons alone do not make an infographic. An infographic has many parts but is one story, activity or set of instructions whereas a set of icons might convey many separate, discrete points.

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