In my personal quest to compare business intelligence tools, I stumbled upon Infogram. It wasn’t immediately clear to me what I could expect, but after a couple of minutes messing around in the free version, I could come up with enough use cases to write a recommendation in a blog post.
Let’s say I’m a marketing expert that works for a Belgian real estate agent, specialized in investment property. In Belgium, governments of different levels publish statistics regarding housing prices, the sales of real estate, the availability of building land, and so on. Since I want people to convince that real estate is a great investment, there’s a lot of marketing value in claiming this topic. Regularly publishing crisp visualizations on social media, based on those numbers by the government is good way to do just that. And that’s where Infogram comes into play.
Infogram was founded in Latvia in 2012 and is now a subsidiary of Prezi. It offers a no-code interface to easily create visualizations for a multitude of media. Infographics are at the core of this tool. But using the same interface, it’s easy to create reports, slides, dashboards, posters and posts for social media.
Everything is created within your Infogram project folders and with one click, you can host and publish it on the platform and embed it in your website with a copy-paste snippet — there’s even a WordPress plugin. Although these different media use the same interface, the final product differs. Reports are A4 pages, slides are a presentation (with transitions), etc. Instead of always looking op the correct size of social media posts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, you can just select them from the menu.
The interface uses simple drag and drop features, with a large amount of parameters so you can change every aspect to your liking. In the paid versions, you can even set your brand’s colors and use them across projects.
Data can be imported in multiple ways, or you can simply paste it in a spreadsheet-ish interface. The paid versions also support connections to SQL databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, RedShift, Oracle & SQL Server).
One thing that bothered me is that the data needs to be in wide format. Every column is a different element on your chart. A data nerd like me gets anxious about this as it is good practice to store data in long format. Importing data from SQL databases is possible, but oftentimes, it will have to be pivoted, first.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. After messing around with the tool a little bit, I decided to make an infographic on Belgian real estate prices (data). This is what I created in 15 minutes.
Who needs Infogram?
I worked as a data journalist for a couple of months. One thing that really slowed down our workflow was the work schedule of the creative team. We produced visualizations in Excel, and they did their magic in Adobe Illustrator. If we needed something published fast, I worked with their templates and messed around a little bit.
Infogram can potentially eliminate the creative team when it comes to data visualizations and infographics. Marketeers, journalists or copywriters would no longer need to rely on their colleagues that know their way around Adobe Illustrator. In a couple of minutes they can produce attractive visualizations for any medium. My guess is that more than 95% of what gets produced in Illustrator in an average editorial room, can be done in Infogram.
For $19-$149 a month, this is a bargain.
One side note: as a data scientist, something was missing. The feature I was really looking for was an API connection (and an R/Python package) to upload data sets. That way, power users could have an end-to-end data pipeline. They would be able to do the wrangling in R or Python, and upload the data set to the project, where they can finish the visualization.