Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum

President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization, Infographic Design, Visual Thinking, Product Development and Marketing professional fascinated by good infographics.  Always looking for better ways to get the point across.

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The Key to Infographic Marketing: The Psychology of the Picture Superiority Effect

In Ancient times, Cicero considered memory training to not just be a method, but a form of art. He felt strongly that training your memory was one of the most valuable things you could do to improve your capabilities as a speaker, and a citizen.  Even in ancient times, Cicero knew that remembering images was superior to remembering text alone.

People remember pictures better than words, especially over longer periods of time. This phenomenon as we know it today, is called the Picture Superiority Effect*. It refers to the notion that concepts that are learned by viewing pictures are more easily and frequently recalled than are concepts that are learned by reading their written word form counterparts.

What had been known to the Ancients throughout the centuries, has been quantified scientifically in our modern times. In my book, I included this quote from John Medina’s Brain Rules, to help explain the value of the Picture Superiority Effect. However, to make it visual I created this simple data visualization to help readers remember the power of visual information.

“Based on research into the Picture Superiority Effect, when we read text alone, we are likely to remember only 10 percent of the information 3 days later. If that information is presented to us as text combined with a relevant image, we are likely to remember 65 percent of the information 3 days later.” - John Medina, Brain Rules, 2008

Cool Infographics Picture Superiority Effect

via: coolinfographics.com/book

Advertisers have known this for years. Whether it’s been a simple application like the Yellow Pages (ads with pictures got more business) or giant billboards in New York’s Times Square. To see a real world example of how the Picture Superiority Effect works, check out this excellent coverage area map ad campaign from Verizon:

Verizon Coverage Map Infographic Ad

These maps show Verizon’s 4G LTE network coverage area, compared to the coverage area of their competitors. If you were only to get the text version, imagine how much of this paragraph explaining their coverage area you would remember 3 days after reading it:

“Among the four major wireless carriers, only Verizon’s 4G network is 100% 4G LTE the gold standard of wireless technology. Available in over 500 cities, Verizon 4G LTE covers almost 97% of the U.S. population. Experience the speed and power in more places.”

Now, take a look at the maps again. How much easier it is to see how the four major wireless carriers stack up against each other? It’s obvious Verizon covers the most area. Verizon takes it a step further, and has a link to a PDF highlighting their coverage in Alaska and an interactive map to view different parts of the country. All complete with map visualizations, of course.

However, there is another very important aspect of the Picture Superiority Effect that must be understood: It’s not just any image. It needs to be an image relevant to the content, which reinforces the message from your data. This works across all mediums of advertising, and of course, infographics.

In infographic design, the Picture Superiority Effect is extended to include charts, graphs, and data visualizations. Infographic designers use data visualizations and illustrations as the visual component of a design to trigger the Picture Superiority Effect, which can have incredible success getting the audience to remember the information presented.

Here is an great example from Dan Roam, author of the book, The Back of the Napkin, Solving Problems and Selling Ideas With Pictures, of how using images and text can help a designer understand which type of visualization is appropriate to use when communicating different types of information. Easy to understand, easy to remember.

Dan Roam Back of the Napkin <6><6> Rule

via: DanRoam.com

Infographics work so well because using text and images together helps people to retain the information. Remember, if it’s just words, people will only remember 10% of the information they read. But, if you combine the text with a relevant image, they are likely remember 65% of the information! While others may choose to work harder by crafting a perfectly written article or advertisement, it would be a smarter choice to use text and relevant images together.

Remember to “Make It Visual” if you want your audience to remember the information about your company’s products or services. You don’t have to be a professional designer either. You can make your content visual using a wide range of tools like the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, Microsoft PowerPoint, OmniGraffle, or online design tools like Visme.co or Tableau Public.


*Nelson, D.L., Reed, U.S., & Walling, J.R. (1976). Pictorial superiority effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 2, 523-528.

Coolness Graphed

Coolness Graphed


Coolness Graphed

Coolness Graphed.com has a collection of bar graphs that describes when certain actions are deemed “cool” or “uncool”. The three shown here are just a few examples from the website.

Coolness Graphed.com brings normal events together with a humorous flare by rating them in a “cool”/”uncool” bar graph. The bar graph works well with the events as a visual ranking system. No real values are needed.  Data visualization used brilliantly!  It only takes seconds for the audience to understand each one, and they are highly sharable in social media.

The site has been running for more than two years now, and keeps getting funnier!  Thanks to Jones for sending in the link!

Now also available in a book!


Shelf Help Best Business Books 

Shelf Help Best Business Books [Infographic]

This infographic is an interactive navigation interface into the collection of the top 70 business books that Vikas Malhotra has read. His Shelf Help Best Business Books infographic posted on Media-Mosaic promises to get any reader on the high road of business mastery.

I have been a biblopath since college and being in business for 20+ years, have spent countless hours browsing business books in every bookstore that I could possibly locate. In those bookstores, reclining against a shelf, many a times I have been privy to animated discussions, over the business books that should be read. Executives and students, who wish to educate themselves are forever seeking and dispensing folk wisdom on books, its contents and their authors.

With this collection of 70 business books, spread across 14 categories, I have tried to cover the full spectrum of business knowledge that one needs. These books will immediately put anyone who invests time in pursuing them on the high road of business mastery. The best way of using this collection is to start with an area that interests you or in an domain where you are facing an immediate challenge and then over time, populate your overall conceptual library.

Also as far as I know, visually this is one of a kind, Business “Shelf Help” Collection.

In case you have any suggestions or ideas to make it better or if you think I have left out any major business publication please do let me know in the comments section below and I will be happy to consider those for inclusion.

I am seeing more infographics and data visualization used as navigation tools on websites.  In this case, each book cover image appears as you hover over the book on the shelf.  I would recommend adding a clickable feature so the audience can click on any book, and be taken to that book on Amazon.

As a side note, how many of these have you read?  I’ve only read 9 of the books that Vikas included in his collection.

Thanks to Media-Mosaic for sending in the link!


Who's Stealing eBooks?

Who's Stealing eBooks? infographic

Who’s Stealing eBooks? infographic from Who is Hosting This? looks at some of the data and opinions from experts about ebook piracy.  

Production and sales of eBooks increased rapidly in the last decade. Indie authors may have led the way, but bestsellers (and their publishers) soon joined the eBook revolution. Publishers begot lawyers;  copyrights, DRM, and royalties soon followed.

Who’s stealing eBooks, and who is paying?

What’s the future for digital rights management, and how does this affect publishers and authors? Our research into eBook piracy found some interesting statistics illustrated in the graphic.

With the release of the Cool Infographics book, I now have a personal reason to take this topic much more seriously.  As an author, of course I want as many readers as possible to be exposed to the book, but I also invested over a thousand hours writing the book and had to pass up paying design projects to get it done.


Cool Infographics 30% Off at Amazon This Weekend ONLY!

Cool Infographics 30% Off at Amazon This Weekend ONLY!

This weekend ONLY, Amazon is offering 30% Off any one print book, and you can use this deal to get Cool Infographics at the lowest price yet!  The deal ends December 1st at 11:59pm PST.  Use the promo code “BOOKDEAL“ at checkout under the “Gift cards & promotional codes” section.

You can read the details and Terms & Conditions here.

When I looked on Saturday, Amazon’s retail price was listed at $25.08 (it changes daily), and with this discount you could get Cool Infographics for only $17.56.  That’s the lowest price I’ve seen anywhere!


Finding Waldo by Visualizing Patterns

Where's Waldo BooksGraphic by Slate. Illustration by Martin Handford published by Candlewick Press.

Here’s Waldo is a great analysis and article by Ben Blatt on Slate.com about trying to determine a strategy for finding Waldo by visualizing patterns from the Where’s Waldo series of books.

In Chapter 1: The Science of Infographics of my new book, Cool Infographics, I cover that our ability to see patterns is a huge factor in why data visualizations and infographics are so effective.  Humans can see patterns and recognize differences where computers can’t.  You can read about this topic and more in the Free Sample Chapter available for download.

Illustrator Martin Handford published the first in his beloved series of Where’s Waldo books over 25 years ago.* The books challenge readers to find the titular cartoon man, clad in his trusty red-striped shirt and red-striped hat, as he hides in a landscape of red-striped red herrings. When attempting to find Waldo you can scan the page completely from top to bottom, or you can focus your search around certain landmarks where Waldo seems likely to be hiding (in a castle’s moat, riding a blimp). Neither approach is particularly efficient. Which got me to wondering: What if there’s a better way?

I sought to answer these questions the way any mathematician who has no qualms about appearing ridiculous in public would: I sat in a Barnes & Noble for three hours flipping through all seven Where’s Waldo books with a tape measure.

The map born of my experiment is below.

Mapping Waldo Locations

It may not be immediately clear from looking at this map, but my hunch that there’s a better way to hunt was right. There isn’t one corner of the page where Waldo is always hiding; readers would have already noticed if his patterns were so obvious. What we do see, as highlighted in the map below, is that 53 percent of the time Waldo is hiding within one of two 1.5-inch tall bands, one starting three inches from the bottom of the page and another one starting seven inches from the bottom, stretching across the spread.

Finding Waldo Patterns

Check out the complete story on Slate.com

Found thanks to a post by Mike Elgan on Google+!



The Cool Infographics Book is Now Available! #coolinfobook

unboxing Cool Infographics book

The Cool Infographics book is now shipping!  I received my own printed copies on Friday for the first time, and they look fantastic!  It’s a special feeling to hold the physical result of 12 months of hard work in my hands.  The publisher, Wiley, did an awesome job printing them.

I know that people who pre-ordered the book have begun to receive their copies.  Everyone that pre-ordered copies should get their shipment shortly.  If you’re interested in an ebook version, I believe the Amazon Kindle version is now available, and other book sites will have an ebook version available in a couple weeks.

As I posted last week, I’ve made a free sample chapter excerpt available.  Use the online form to request the link to download the PDF sample chapter.

DON’T MISS OUT!  Time is running out to take advantage of the discount code “CINFO” to get 40% off list price on the Wiley publisher site.  The discount code is still good through the end of October (10/31/13).  Last time I checked all of the book retailer sites (yesterday), this was the best price online to get the book for only $23.99.


Download A Free Sample Chapter from the Cool Infographics Book #coolinfobook

Cool Infographics Book Sample Chapter

The Cool Infographics book comes out next week!

I now have a sample chapter available for download as a PDF file for FREE.  Fill out the form on the request page, and you’ll get an automated email with the link to download the sample chapter.

The sample chapter excerpt includes 30 pages from the first chapter, and covers the following topics:

  • Chapter 1: The Science of Infographics
    • Infographics vs. Data Visualizations
    • The Explosive Growth of Infographics
    • The Rise of the Informavore
    • The Rise of Big Data
    • Why Infographics Work
    • The Art of Storytelling

DON’T MISS OUT!  Time is running out to take advantage of the discount code “CINFO” to get 40% off list price on the Wiley publisher site.  The pre-order discount code is only good through the end of October (10/31/13).  Last time I checked all of the book retailer sites (yesterday), this was still the best deal online to get the book for only $23.99.

Cool Infographics Book


40% Discount on Cool Infographics Book Pre-Orders

40% Discount on Cool Infographics Book Pre-Orders

As a special offer for readers of the Cool Infographics blog, Wiley is offering a 40% discount when you pre-order the print version of Cool Infographics directly from their site.  The list price for my book is $39.99 in the United States (CDN $47.99 in Canada, £26.99 or €32.00 in Europe), so the discount brings the price down in the U.S. to $23.99 for pre-orders.  This offer is available globally from the countries included on the Wiley site.

Discount: 40% off list price

Link: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118582306.html

Discount Code: CINFO

Expires: 10/31/13

The 40% off pre-order discount is available for the month of October, leading up to the official release on October 28, 2013.

This discount is only available for orders of the print version of the book from the Wiley site.  The prices from online book retailers Amazon or Barnes & Noble change daily (or more frequently) based on their pricing algorithms, so there’s no telling what their prices will be on any given day.  That’s why the discount is only available from Wiley.  Enter the discount code “CINFO” at checkout.

Please share this offer with any friends or co-workers that would enjoy the book!

Note: Contact me for additional discounts on bulk orders for 26 or more copies for your organization.


Gone To Press!

It’s out of my hands!

This week, my project editor at Wiley told me that Cool Infographics the book has officially “gone to press!”  That means that all of the electronic layout files have been sent to the printer, and the book is in the printing schedule.  The official release date is October 28th, from online book retailers and should even include your local bookstore!

Over the last 12 months I’ve been gathering all of the materials together into the binder you see above, but I’m super excited to see the complete printed book.  I can’t wait to see the printed copy and share it with everyone.  You’ll love the full-color infographics and data visualization examples included.  The final book will be close to 380 pages!

Intended for everyone, not just designers, the book explains how to utilize infographics effectively as part of a content marketing strategy.  Things like how to structure your information flow, how to choose a topic, how to be credible to your audience, and how to publish and promote your final infographic design.  Just like this site, the book includes visual examples from designers and companies all over the world.  I designed a bunch of custom data visualizations for the book, but most of the examples are some of the coolest infographics from the web.

You can find out more about the book on the dedicated landing page I setup here: coolinfographics.com/book

To receive the book as fast as possible, pre-order your copy today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or directly from Wiley!