2011 was a huge year for infographic design. Large companies embraced data renderings as a business strategy like never before, whether it was to promote their brand (GE) or bolster their bottom line (the New York Times). Nowhere was that more evident than at Facebook. Timeline, the site’s most ambitious redesign to date, brought the central tenet of data viz–organizing unwieldy bits and bobs into a compelling, visual narrative–to millions of people around the world.
As infographics go mainstream, infographic designers grow bolder. Some of the most tantalizing projects we came across this past year stretched our understanding of what a data visualization can be: It can be a set of interactive commuter-train maps plotted not according to distance but time. It can be a metaphorical chart of how water flows from the source to the consumer. It can be the spikes and dips of the Dow Jones Industrial Average rendered as notes on a musical scale. Infographics have clearly evolved into something greater than just a way to make raw numbers more enticing. They’re a full-blown art form.
We can’t wait to see where the discipline goes next. In the meantime, enjoy the greatest hits of 2011.