40 brilliant and complex topics explained perfectly by infographics

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How do you make complicated subjects like the carbon budget or the future of big data seem approachable or even entertaining?

The answer is simple: infographics.

Do you know how many homes had computers in 1982 compared to 2012? Do you know what career best suits your personality?

The reason why infographics are so popular might have something to do with the fact that 65% of the world’s population is made up of visual learnersWhen complex topics and data are presented in raw form, they can be hard to deliver and understand, but when they are condensed and depicted graphically, they can become much easier to understand.

To celebrate the complex and brilliant artistry that goes into designing infographics, we’ve curated 40 of the best.

01. The Carbon Budget

carbon budget
World Resources Institute

One of the most successful parts of this infographic is the visual pathway that leads the reader from an introduction of the subject to an invitation to learn more. This compelling call to action is huge when you’re dissecting complex subjects because it gives the reader somewhere else to go, preferably your own website.

Takeaway: Create a visual pathway to lead the reader to your call to action.

02. The Almighty Dollar

transparency
Column Five and Good Magazine

This distribution map (click to be taken to its full size) is visually stunning even though it uses a muted color palette of beige,  green, and yellow. The gradation of green from light to dark is an effective way to display income brackets, with darker indicating a greater abundance. What’s also standout here is the way the statistics are organized, in half-circle form. Looking from a distance, the eye is drawn to this unique arrangement because of its rise and fall.

Takeaway: Use color gradation to illustrate abstract statistics.

03. Typography and Fonts

3_Typography and Font
The Logo Company

If you have an infographic about typography, it should be the opposite of boring, and that’s the case here. Using a youthful color palette, this infographic sets out to explain complex ideas in easy to understand chunks. The color scheme makes it pleasing to the eye and perfect for printing out.

Takeaway: Brighten any subject with a youthful color, especially one that tackles elementary elements.

04. Understanding Viral Content Marketing

4_Understanding Viral Marketing
Voltier Digital

This infographic uses color to introduce and then to break down each element of viral content marketing. This infographic is huge and provides a thorough overview of the subject, but what makes it successful is that each section can stand alone as its own informative guide.

Takeaway: Use color to break down an in-depth subject into easily digestible parts.

05. Style Your Home with Feng Shui

feng shui
Urbanara

This infographic provides a subtle hint with the blue/ beige pattern that slightly bows down as an arrow. The effect? The eye keeps moving downward to the next section. Notice how the last section subtly lifts your attention to a website for more information.

Takeaway: Create subtle direction with arrowed shapes.

06. Crowd Power

6_Crowd Power
Column Five

This infographic features exquisite storytelling that’s easy to understand and delightful to follow. It uses a red stick figure as a protagonist that moves the story forward. Readers can trail along behind these interesting figures as they illustrate abstract ideas.

Takeaway: Use one or two elements to narrate a story.

07. Behind the Internet Curtain

Internet Backbone
Telx

Vibrant colors pop against a dark backdrop. White text is also an outstanding element on this infographic. Because the backdrop is not completely black, the contrast of the text’s color isn’t harsh. Instead, the white is crisp and attention-grabbing in the most pleasing way.

Takeaway: Create pleasing contrast with white text against a dark, but not black, backdrop.

08. Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience

Climate Change
World Bank

The title of this infographic is a mouthful and a boring one at that, but its invigorating color story pulls this infographic from ho-hum to must-read. Shades of blue and orange never looked so good together. In color psychology, orange evokes friendliness and blue evokes trust. Notice how this infographic uses both colors to create a welcoming but authoritative vibe.

Takeaway: Use color psychology to create a stronger infographic.

09. Facebook Psychology

facebook psychology
Nowsourcing

This infographic uses the iconic Facebook design aesthetic to relate back to its topic. While I’m not generally a fan of using a large variety of fonts within an infographic (three should be the maximum), the multiple fonts work here because they create an almost frenetic atmosphere that re-focuses the reader through the lengthy topic.

Takeaway: Use a variety of fonts to keep your reader’s attention.

10. Poppy Diagram

war deaths
Valentina D'Efilippo

It’s so clever, this infographic. Inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” this infographic uses the remembrance poppy to commemorate soldiers who have fallen in war. The size of the poppies as well as their colors represent key statistics for the graph. The unusually creative depiction of war facts gives readers a fresh new perspective on the subject matter.

Takeaway: Think of poetic ways to illustrate facts.

11. History of Hashtags

history of the inforgraphic
Offerpop

If you notice, the hashtag features prominently in this infographic. There’s a hashtag embedded in every graphic element, with only a few exceptions. Of special interest is the way the timeline is wrapped around the oversized hashtag which further emphasizes the topic.

Takeaway: Repeatedly emphasize the topic of your infographic.

12. What Matters Most to People Around the World

meaning infographic (1)
Movehub

This infographic did a fantastic job using color to illustrate key concepts. The opening section works as a color guide for each concept. The guide is then added to the bottom of every section as an easy reference point. This kaleidoscopic infographic is both charming and illuminative, which is not an easy feat.

Takeaway: Use colors to represent key concepts.

13. Serif vs. Sans: The Final Battle

serif vs sans serif
UrbanFont

Muted colors meets flat design in a dynamic presentation. This infographic effectively uses two columns to show the difference between the two font types. Each type is assigned a color that it uses throughout the infographic.

Takeaway: Create consistency by assigning one color for each idea within your infographic.

14. The Most Useful Inventions of All Time

invention history
The TIME Invention Poll

There’s a ton of information on this infographic, but it’s all neatly arranged into easily digestible sections. All sections are unified with the same color story of black, blue, white, and yellow. This allows each section to stand alone successfully, but create a cohesive look from afar.

Takeaway: Use the same color story for each section to create cohesion.

15. History of Life

historyoflife
Juan David Martinez, Carlos Ramos, Zamira Saab, William Leon

This gorgeous infographic is equal parts information and art. It adds splashes of humor and artistic expression and cleverly uses color to differentiate each age in the history of earth. The entire graphic is high resolution, which makes it perfect as a poster.

Takeaway: Create an infographic that looks great when printed on letter paper or blown up as a poster.

16. Global Carbon Footprint

carbon footprint
Pacific Standard

Cheeky, or shall I say footie? This infographic organizes information into the shape of a foot to highlight the topic of Global Carbon Footprint. The infographic is easy to decipher– the larger the emission, the larger the circle that represents the offending country. It’s also color coded to indicate which continent is represented.

Takeaway: Display your information in unique shapes that represent your topic.

17. Inside the Mind of a Freelancer

freelance
24 Seven

Colorful and energetic, this infographic provides a lot of information without overwhelming the reader. It does so by using white space to balance the content. It also maintains the same color story throughout, making it easy on the eyes.

Takeaway: Use white or negative space to counter-balance a ton of information.

18. What is a Responsive Website?

18_What Is a Responsive Website
Hoodzpah Design

This infographic is both retro and modern. Charming illustration, slick typography, and the generous use of shadow create an engaging infographic that draws you in and makes you care.

Takeaway: Add retro elements to your infographic to up the charm-factor.

19. The Best Careers for Your Personality Type

personality types infographic
Truity

This infographic uses four different colors from the color wheel to visually group 16 personality types. It also throws in a little bit of color psychology to indicate a core value of each personality type. In this example, red stands for passion (the pragmatists), blue for trust (the caretakers), yellow for knowledge and hope (the theorists), and green for compassion (the empaths).

Takeaway: Use the psychology of color to illustrate an idea.

20. What is the Deep Web?

deepweb
DashBurst

Using the deep sea as a metaphor, this infographic contains playful visual graphics that add to the atmosphere without drowning out the topic. There’s a whimsical element at the bottom of the graphic that ties it all together.

Takeaway: Use visual metaphors.

21. Why Prolonged Sitting and Standing is Unproductive

21_Why Prolonged Sitting is Unproductive
Funders and Founders

This infographic takes the reader on a journey from neck to the bottom of the spine and explains key concepts in graphical form. The infographic shows a zoomed-in image of the affected area, combined with a description of the potential danger.

Takeaway: Use graphic elements to support your main text, not the other way around.

22. The Evolution of the Blogger

blogging infographic
Flowtown

Fun graphics illustrate the many different types of bloggers you may encounter. Each blogger graphic is stereotypical but instantly recognizable, for example, the political blogger wears a tie, and the fashion blogger wears blue heels and faux fur (at least I think it’s faux).

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to personify the elements within your site.

23. Know Your 7 Chakras

chakra infographic
Anxiety.org

Using the backdrop of a human body, this infographic describes what a chakra is and where each chakra is located. Each chakra is represented with a different color and symbol, making it easy to identify from a distance.

Takeaway: Assign a different color to each element of your design.

24. Learn the Language: What Code Should You Learn?

what code
Who Is Hosting This

There’s a tremendous amount of information on this information, but luckily it can be broken into smaller, color-coded sections. This allows the reader to take a break and return to a specific section without getting lost.

Takeaway: Color code your sections.

25. The Art of Color Coordination

color coordination (1)
Kissmetrics

This infographic about color coordination uses a neutral background to draw attention to the color wheels. It uses the same graphic element (the color wheel) eight times, but each iteration represents a different color combination.

Takeaway: Repetition is okay, as long as you change it slightly to represent a new idea.

26. The 6 Principles of Design

26_6 Principles of Design
Folo

The two colors in the infographic work well with each other to create a fresh and minimal approach. Each element may be simple when alone, but combined together, the elements create a strong and cohesive design story.

Takeaway: Use simple graphics together to create a strong design story.

27. Emotional IQ and You

emotional intelligence iq
University of Maryland

The element that stands out with this infographic is typography. There is a mix of bold and lean, with a variety of font colors to add interest. Font colors alternate primarily between black and white, to expand on specific categories.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to use a variety of typography within your infographic.

28. The Neurology of Gaming

gaming infographic
Online Universities

Various shades of blue create a connected color story. This infographic consistently uses white text to explain key points. Cartoon-like elements make the elements help to further illustrate and make simple the abstract ideas of this infographic.

Takeaway: Use one main color to weave a cohesive design.

29. GMO Your Right to Know

gmo infographic
Whole Foods Market

The backdrop of rich soil is a creative choice for an infographic on the topic of genetically modified foods. All of the graphic elements, including the typography, are gritty and unrefined, which is also apropos of the subject matter.

Takeaway: Echo your subject within all graphic elements of your infographic.

30. The Psychology of Handwriting

30_The_Psychology_of_Handwriting
The Pen Warehouse

Purple, blue, and white reign supreme on this infographic. The colors are dynamic and attention grabbing without being harsh and overly assertive.

Takeaway: Alternate colors in a pattern to create interest.

31. What Type of Learner Are You?

learning infographic
OnlineCollege.org

This infographic assigns each type of learner with their own color identity, then uses that  assigned color to clearly define a section. Each standalone section uses shades of its assigned color to neatly organize information within it.

Takeaway: Use color to organize information within a section.

32. What Does Organic Really Mean?

32_What Does Organic Mean
Loku

Green represents freshness, which is why it’s used in the design of an infographic poster on organic foods. The text is clean and white against the verdant backdrop. This infographic is unapologetically vibrant.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to use bright colors to represent an idea.

33. Quick Reference Guide: Manual Photography

photography infographic
Shutter Teachers

The white background, simple color story, and minimal graphics make for an easy to print infographic. It packs a lot of value within a short amount of space, and it does so logically and without unnecessary, cutesy graphics (although there is a time and place of those).

Takeaway: Go minimal when creating a printable quick guide.

34. A Tale of Two Cows

34_Tale Of Two Cows
Visually

Here’s the time and place for cutesy graphics. This infographic illustrates a joke about the most popular types of socio-economic theories and systems, including capitalism and socialism. It’s fun and saucy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The repetitive color scheme unifies the lengthy infographic.

Takeaway: Use a repetitive color scheme to unify a long infographic.

35. Left vs. Right Brain

right left brain infographic
OnlineCollege.org

As we’ve seen before, this infographic assigns one color to each subject (left and right). It also incorporates graphic elements clarify ideas. In fact, each thought is accompanied by a graphic element.

Takeaway: Use graphic elements to support or clarify your ideas.

36. The Psychology of Poverty

Psychology of Poverty
BestMSWPrograms.com

Interspersing gritty graphical elements with a smooth background suggests a certain disparity between the haves (the rich) and the have nots (the poor). This infographic uses simple designs to illustrate important and profound truths. It keeps itself approachable with a friendly orange and blue color scheme.

Takeaway: Use friendly colors to draw your reader into your subject, especially one that’s difficult.

37. Two Sides of the Food Crisis

37_Two Sides of the Food Crisis
Public Health Degree

Using red and blue to effectively contrast the two sides of this issue, the infographic is packed full of information. However, this infographic doesn’t get bogged down because it uses graphic elements to break up the information.

Takeaway: Use graphic elements to break up big blocks of information.

38. The Future of Big Data

Big Data
Online Business Degree

Varied sizes of graphic elements help to add interest to this infographic. The eye is immediately drawn to the oversized image at the top of this infographic, but you’ll notice that it serves a purpose. That purpose is to illustrate the various ways big data is created.

Takeaway: Use a large eye-catching graphic that’s tied to the subject of your infographic.

39. Obesity: Complex But Conquerable

Obesity
Institute of Medicine of The National Academies

This infographic features flat design in a colorful and lively presentation. Each visual element is there to tell a story, some of them also connect with each other.

Takeaway: Include flat graphic elements in your design for a modern aesthetic.

40. How Books Are Made

40_How_Books_Are_Made
Lin Wilson of Funnel Incorporated

Where’s Waldo? There’s a lot going on in this infographic, but that’s the point. The subject of the infographic is displayed in brilliant visual form. Follow the red arrows to go from the starting point to your final destination. This infographic is extremely thorough, but never in a boring, static way. The eye is constantly moving, which is a mark of a successful infographic.

Takeaway: Add a direction line to lengthy infographics to keep your reader moving forward.

Final Thoughts

Have you been inspired by these wide variety of complicated but killer infographics? Maybe you’re ready to create your own. We’ve got just the guide for you. Check out how to create amazing infographics for easy tips to get you started. Happy designing!