Visual.ly, a search engine specifically for infographics and graphic design, launched this week. The first distinct characteristic of this site is its name – the website is visual.ly (instead of .com, .org, etc.). The site also provides tools to users to allow them to create their own infographics.
The site is a project of financial management tool Mint and hopes to eventually be a subscription-based product for the regular creation of custom infographics. The infographics featured include both interactive and static ones. Visual.ly’s own interactive infographic, the “twitterize yourself” tool, has been popular – it allows the comparison of two twitter users in various ways including frequency of tweets, and people users follow vs. users following them.
The non-interactive infographics featured cover a variety of topics, including science, philanthropy, business – pretty much anything you can think of. Visualizing subjects in these fields makes them easier to grasp by non-experts, and can lead to hours spent perusing the site and learning through visual communication.
A downside to the site is it does not maximize each infographic for on-screen viewing – though there is the option to view each visual larger, this does not always make text more readable. This graphic, for example, is a history of retail banking innovation:
Though this graphic does present interesting retail banking history and makes good use of the black, white, and red contrast, the small and blurry type at the top of the graphic is difficult to read, detracting from the visual’s overall effectiveness.
Conversely, the site also includes very clear and easy-to-read infographics. This one is a subway map-style history of science:
This map is very large, so this is only a portion of it – however, it is a great snapshot of science throughout the ages. The fields of science are color coded by metro lines – the burgundy line, for example is 21st century astronomy.
Another good one is this infographic depicting misconceptions about energy. The top of the graphic introduces the viewer to the topic with bright colors and cartoon-style figures:
Scrolling through the originally graphic, which is fairly long, we learn about beliefs people hold about energy that aren’t actually true. Here is a section of the infographic dispelling misconceptions about solar panel production and electric car speed:
The crisp colors and cartoon images make this infographic compelling, give it an upbeat attitude, and represent a consistent design aesthetic.
One of the best features of the visual.ly is the ability to download large-size files of the infographics, so you can see the images in the sizes in which they were originally created. Poke around the site, you might find that you’ve lost yourself in infographics!