Infographics: The final User Interface?

Infographics is a style of showing information in a simple graphical way, either static (images) or dynamic (animations) with the minimum necessary detail over a particular topic. The most common examples are traffic signals and subway maps. Main concepts are replaced by basic and well known shapes such as people, vehicles, bridges, houses and so on.

Signs of an austrian autobahn

Signs of an austrian highway

To achieve a fast and clear perception from viewers,  images and information are reduced and combined and differentiated using areas, layers, colors and other visual cues such as legends.

Simplified map of a subway system

Simplified map of a subway system

The effectiveness of Infographics is being used also in a variety of media types like: video clips (music, fairy tales, etc.), newspapers, products manuals, posters and software.

Graph for an environment friendly engineering project

Representative chart

In the past, most user interfaces used graphical styles with prevalence of cartoonish images (icons) and 3D and polylined controls. This is changing to more simple and less bloated environments.

SUN Solaris OS graphical user interface

Typical 1990s GUI

Simplified GUI (oct. 2008)

Simplified GUI (oct. 2008)

Maybe Star Trek designer Mike Okuda, with his LCARS interface, was a visionary ahead of his time. The simplified interface can be seen in some of today’s applications.

Star Trek (TNG) LCARS GUI.

Star Trek (TNG) LCARS GUI.

And don’t forget Einstein’s phrase: “make things as simple as possible, but no simpler“. There must exists equilibrium between simplicity and usability.