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Here’s 5 Infographics That Inspire Our Creative Team

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Here's 5 Infographics That Inspire Our Creative Team

Over the years, the Visual Capitalist creative team has created thousands of maps, charts, infographics, videos, data visualizations, and everything in between.

Through our online travels, we’ve encountered countless data-infused pieces – but only a select few stand out above the noise and filler. Below, five members of our creative team have each selected a piece that has inspired them in some way.

Let’s dive in!
— VC Creative Team

1. “The Weight of Walmart” by Nick Routley

Walmart Manhattan Warehouses Visualization
See the full piece here.

There was an explosion in the number of infographics being produced around 2010-2011, and in many ways, that wave of popularity is what got me interested in fusing data with storytelling and design.

I can’t look back at that era with rose coloured glasses though; most of the pieces I encountered were dysfunctional and ugly. There was, however, a batch of really amazing infographics that tapped into clever illustrations and concepts to get their point across.

In my opinion, the piece that sums up that style best is “The Weight of Walmart”.

I love “The Weight of Walmart” for a number of reasons, but foremost, the content is genuinely interesting. In 2011, when the piece was released, Walmart was a retail juggernaut. As a result, some of the stats in this infographic are pretty remarkable.

Walmart vs. Amazon vs. Costco

Next, the idea of the obese anthropomorphic monster is weird and amazing, yet doesn’t detract from the subject matter at all. It also sets a very interesting aesthetic tone in the piece that is a big contrast from the staid, icon-filled infographics many people are used to.

As well, the infographic uses colour in an extremely effective, strategic way. Note the colour yellow as you scroll. Aside from being an overt hat tip to Walmart’s branding, that pop colour leads you through the content so you’re never stuck wondering where you should be looking next.

“The Weight of Walmart” made a big impact on me as a budding designer and even today – when we have more creative leeway on a piece – I look to that weird, wonderful example as one to emulate.

>> View The Weight of Walmart

2. “The World’s First Writing Systems” by Melissa Haavisto


Watch the video embedded above

I’ve heard it said that while language could exist without writing, history books depend on the written word.

From our earliest days, humanity has shared information in an ever-evolving sequence of symbols, crude cave paintings, and timeworn inscriptions etched into stone. Fast-forward to 2017, and this habit of sharing knowledge has only continued to grow at breakneck speeds, with an explosion of data and information being created every second.

As a designer, I’ve always loved three things beyond the pure aesthetics: maps, history, and storytelling. Released in 2016 by Business Insider, “The Spread of the World’s First Writing Systems” concisely uses the first two points – maps and history — to paint the complexity of the third point (storytelling) in stunning detail.

In the span of two and a half minutes, the map follows a surge of evolving literacy systems across the world. Red is used to highlight six geographic regions, and colored timelines mark the birth (or death) of each script.

If you pause the video around the two-minute mark and look at the timelines, you can clearly see how complicated the evolution of language is. Winding new branches and dialects move across geographic borders, while some ancient scripts defy the odds and remain intact for millennia. Among the excerpts of each script, you may even notice some symbols that seem vaguely familiar to the modern eye.

Beyond its data functionality, the map pairs realistic beauty with a clean aesthetic and groups each family of written languages well.

As part of a series of concise, animated maps, “The Spread of the World’s First Writing Systems” remains one example among many that inspired my fascination with time, geographic space, and information.

3. “Earth Temperature Timeline” by Harrison Schell

xkcd World Temperature Infographic
See the full piece here.

Where a graphic really sets itself apart is how effectively it can communicate its intended message. The “Earth Temperature Timeline” by xkcd takes a huge amount of data, quite literally all of human history in the past 22,000 years, and makes it easy, fun, and informative to follow.

The strong points of this graphic cannot be overstated. The storytelling, with added jokes, keeps the reader engaged and interested, even if there is no flashy graphics or icons to accompany every slab of text. This is a great example of how writing and concept can carry the reader with sparse graphics, acting only as simple nudges to deliver the concept.

And finally, when you are happily comparing historic events and their relation to one another, the reality sets in. The whole 15,000 pixels set us up for the last inch, a swift blow to the stomach — climate change is here, and we are responsible.

This graphic altered my perspective on climate change — it made it real, and it made it ridiculous to claim “the climate has changed before”. When it comes down to it, making infographics is about taking data and making it digestible, and xkcd did just that, even if it was hard to swallow.

(After setting your car on fire) Listen, your car’s temperature has changed before.

– Randall Munroe of xkcd

>> View the Earth Temperature Timeline

4. “The Fallen of World War II” by Clayton Wadsworth


Watch the video embedded above

When we hear about the great wars of human history, it’s difficult to picture the sheer scale of the devastation in our minds.

What does 100,000 people look like? That one is simple enough – I can mentally picture a large stadium filled with people. But, what about 70 million people? There you’ve lost me. That is such a large number that I can no longer accurately visualize what that looks like.

That is the wonder of “The Fallen of World War II” by Neil Halloran. It takes the colossal numbers of casualties of both soldiers and civilians in WWII, and visually compares them to many of the other conflicts through human history in one brilliant video.

This award-winning motion graphic has inspired my own work here at Visual Capitalist, and was one of my primary animation references for the initial draft for “How Much Money have Humans Created?”, which we released in 2016. The success of this piece for me is largely due to its ability to contextualize history, allowing us to visually see the drastic difference between modern day conflicts and those of the past by using numbers effectively.

While its subject matter and length might turn away some from watching it in full, I strongly encourage you do so, as it is wonderfully made and incredibly captivating.

5. “Mission(s) to Mars” by Bennett Slater

Missions to Mars Infographic
View a larger version of this graphic here

An infographic needs to be able to communicate complex or dull information quickly and efficiently. Extraneous fluff added to a visualization because it’s “cool” typically muddies the information and begins to chip away at our attention. A simple, streamlined, and focused approach can hit its mark beautifully if done well. This graphic, which visualizes the world’s missions to Mars, is the perfect example of how to turn a table of names and dates into a piece of information art.

Let’s start with the visual hierarchy. Your eye shoots directly to the large white box against a black background. In the fewest words necessary, we read what this is about and smooth as milk we flow into the timeline. This is the meat of the graphic, and what we came for. Without even needing to read the dates, you are compelled visually to begin from the top and move down.

Now comes the genius bit. The timeline works both as a measure of time, but also a measure of distance. We move down the timeline and closer to Mars as we go. The viewer is able to gloss over this and still completely grasp where the Mars missions began and how far we’ve come in a matter of seconds. Once we’ve gotten what we need to from the timeline, we are invited to catch a few neat facts before heading down to the business of the color-coded legend. This design satisfies my itch every time I look at it.

It’s interesting to see styled trends come and go in the infographic world, but the one thing that will always rise to the surface is simple, effective information design. If you can hang a piece of art on your wall and learn some facts at the same time, then that’s the real mission.

>> View larger version of Mission(s) to Mars

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Our creative team uses the above infographics as inspiration for their own work.

If you want to see their creations, we publish new visuals every day that help to explain the complex world of business and investing.

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Our Top Infographics of 2018

A countdown of our top infographics from the last year, including some of our most viewed graphics as well as other hand-picked entries from our staff.

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Visual Capitalist

This year, we published more than 300 posts on Visual Capitalist, getting well over 20 million views along the way.

While all of these posts are driven by powerful visuals and data-driven content, we can only select 18 of them on our hand-picked, annual list of our best work. Below, you’ll find our Top Infographics of 2018 List, which contains some of our most popular infographics, as well as a curation of staff favorites for the year.

If you like what you see on the following list, make sure to subscribe to our mailing list or connect via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to get our free content daily.

Important Notes:

Below are the top posts of 2018. But first, a few quick notes:

  • Images below are small preview images for each large infographic and article
  • To view any post in full, click the image or link in the text. All links open in a new tab.
  • At the end, we’ll link to some honorable mentions, as well as the year-end lists for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Wishing you the best in the new year!
– The Visual Capitalist Team

18. The Social Media Universe

The Social Media Universe

This infographic is from another world, showing the vast scope of the social media universe. In particular, the size of the “Zuckerberg Cluster” stands out, as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger dominate the list of apps with more than a billion monthly active users.

17. The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles in 2018

The World

Ever wanted to know which key real estate markets are the closest to popping, and which are potentially undervalued?

These maps and charts show the six major cities currently in “bubble risk” territory, and how they compare to the markets of other important global cities.

16. The Raw Materials that Fuel the Green Revolution

The Raw Materials Powering the Green Revolution

To get off fossil fuels, we’ll need other finite resources such as rare metals and minerals. We show the resources that will power the green revolution in this giant infographic.

15. The Business Value of the Blockchain

The Business Value of the Blockchain

While 2018 has been a year to forget for cryptocurrencies, the blockchain is here to stay and will impact a wide variety of industries. This graphic uses data from McKinsey to show the potential business value of the technology.

14. Visualizing 40 Years of Music Industry Sales

Visualizing 40 Years of Music Industry Sales
This chart that shows the composition of music industry sales was an unexpected blockbuster, but it seems to have captured the hearts and minds of music lovers from around the world.

13. The Relationship Between Money and Happiness

The Relationship Between Money and Happiness

This was one of our more controversial charts of 2018, partially because of an experimental design decision we made.

Instead of aligning the x and y axes in the traditional way, we oriented the chart so that the trend line was horizontal – making it so countries that were “happier” with what they had (GDP per capita) appeared above the line, while countries that were “less satisfied” appeared below.

12. Elon Musk’s Vision for the Future of Tesla

Visualizing the Future Vision of Tesla

This infographic is the conclusion of our Rise of Tesla Series, showing Elon Musk’s vision for the company. Don’t forget to view Part 1 and Part 2 of the series as well.

11. Mapped: The World’s Largest Megacities by 2100

Economic growth is anchored in cities – and the world’s urban landscape will shift dramatically as we move towards the end of the 21st century. This powerful animation shows where the world’s biggest megacities will be in 2100.

10. How Different Generations Would Invest $10k

How Different Generations Would Invest k

Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials do not think the same way about money. This is partly because they are at different points in their adult lives, but it also has to do with differing attitudes towards wealth and risk.

This nifty visualization charts how these generations would each invest $10,000, and it helps reveal what makes each generation unique.

9. Seven Facts to Free You From Your Fear of Market Crashes

Seven Facts to Free You From Your Fear of Market Crashes

Even when there is extreme volatility occurring in the stock market, this infographic may be the cure to make you a more rational investor. It goes through the math of corrections and bear markets in a simple and straightforward way that can calm the nerves of experts and beginners alike.

8. A World of Languages

A World of Languages

There are 4.1 billion people that speak the 23 most common native tongues – and this widely popular infographic breaks down where they are spoken by country.

7. The Extraordinary Power of Compound Interest

The Extraordinary Power of Compound Interest

According to Albert Einstein, compound interest is the “most powerful force in the universe”.

However, understanding its power is not intuitive to many. That’s why we created this explainer infographic on compound interest as a part of our Wealth 101 channel, which is geared to younger generations.

6. The Multi-Billion Dollar Personal Data Ecosystem

The Multi-Billion Dollar Personal Data Ecosystem

Personal data was a popular and recurring theme throughout the 2018 news cycle.

But how does this ecosystem actually work, and what are the components of personal data in the digital age? This infographic aims to break it all down in an easy and simple way.

5. The Longest Bull Markets of the Modern Era

 Trillion of World Debt

This chart we published in June became very relevant as markets struggled in late-2018.

It documents the six longest bull markets since World War II, and compares them using several factors such as length, total return, and average annual return. It also shows key events that occurred in each bull market, giving great perspective on how the stock market works over time.

4. The Warren Buffett Empire

The Warren Buffett Empire

Most people know Berkshire Hathaway as the massive conglomerate that serves as the investment vehicle for Warren Buffett’s $83 billion fortune. However, far fewer people know what this giant does, and how it actually makes its money!

This massive infographic attempts to put it all in perspective.

3. This World Map was Drawn Based on Country Populations

This Fascinating World Map was Drawn Based on Country Populations

There are many routes to creating an insightful data visualization, but one tried-and-true one is to take something familiar (like a map) and to redraw it based on another data set. In this case, this world map is redrawn based on countries’ populations to give us a whole new way to think about human geography.

2. The $80 Trillion World Economy in One Chart

The  Trillion World Economy in One Chart

This memorable chart that breaks down global GDP was one of our most shared posts of the year, with 37,000 social shares and 750,000 views.

1. The Forces Shaping the Future of the Global Economy

The 8 Major Forces Shaping the Future of the Global Economy

Powerful, data-driven visuals can really help to tell a story that words alone cannot.

This iconic post leans on the ideas and graphics from our new book Visualizing Change, and it does a great job summarizing the forces that we see shaping our economic future.

Honorable mentions:

Animation: The World’s 10 Largest Economies by GDP (1960-Today)
This enthralling animation shows the rise and fall of economies over many decades.

The 6 Forces Transforming the Future of Healthcare
Healthcare is a massive industry – and it’s undergoing tremendous change.

24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality
Think you see things objectively? Check out this list of common cognitive biases that mess with even the best of us.

The 6,000 Year History of Medical Cannabis on One Map
This giant map plots the entire history of medical cannabis through many millennia.

An Illustrated Subway Map of Human Anatomy
Ever wanted to visualize the complexity of the human body? This neat map does the trick.

And lastly, don’t forget to check out our roundups from previous years!

The Top 17 Infographics of 2017
The Top 16 Infographics of 2016
The Top 15 Infographics of 2015
The Top 14 Infographics of 2014

And if you haven’t subscribed to our free mailing list or social feeds, make sure you do so below.

Good luck in 2019!

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Best of

Our Top Infographics of 2017

We count down our favorite infographics and charts from the year, including many you may not have seen before. Catch some of our best work in this Top 17 list.

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Visual Capitalist's Top Infographics of 2017

It’s that time of year again, and 2017 is almost in the rearview mirror.

With another year biting the dust, we are excited to present a curated list of our favorite infographics, charts, and data visualizations that we posted over the course of 2017.

If you’re new to Visual Capitalist, this annual countdown is one of the best ways to get acquainted with what we do. It tallies the year’s most powerful visuals that explain the world of business and investing. If you like what you see below, don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list or connect via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to get our free content daily.

It’s also worth mentioning that many of these below graphics will be included in our upcoming book, which you can still pre-order today.

Important Notes:

Below are the top infographics of 2017. But first, a few quick notes:

  • Images below are small preview images for each large infographic and article
  • To view any post in full, click the image or link in the text. All links open in a new tab.
  • At the end, we’ll link to some honorable mentions, as well as the year-end lists for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Enjoy the countdown, and we wish you the best in the new year!
– The Visual Capitalist Team

17. The Future of Battery Technology

The Future of Battery Technology

The final installment in our five-part Battery Series, this infographic covers what is coming down the battery technology pipeline in the future. It looks at the near-term advancements that will be made with lithium-ion batteries, as well as more unproven, distant technologies like Li-S, Li-air, and Na-ion batteries.

16. The 100 Websites That Rule the Internet

The 100 Websites That Rule the Internet

Ever wonder who owns the 100 most popular websites in the world? This massive infographic links it all together, and allows you to see the powerhouses that rule the internet.

15. The Richest People in History (Part 1)

The Richest People in History

This infographic shows the world’s richest people, with a focus on the pre-modern era that occurred before the Industrial Revolution. In it, you’ll find details on the fortunes of famous names like Augustus Caesar, Mansa Musa, King Solomon, Genghis Khan, and the Medici family.

14. How 5 Tech Giants Make Their Billions

How 5 Tech Giants Make Their Billions

Do you know how tech giants like Facebook, Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon make their money? This chart breaks down the revenue streams for each company in an intuitive and simple manner.

13. These 35 Chinese Cities Have Economies as Big as Countries

35 Chinese Cities With Economies as Big as Countries

It’s often difficult to comprehend the size and scale of the economic boom in China.

That’s why it’s a topic we approach quite often with our visualizations – and we felt this one really hit the mark. Using a mind-boggling map, we compare each of China’s 35 biggest cities with the economies of entire countries. How many of these massive Chinese cities do you think you can name?

12. Bitcoin’s Journey to $10,000

Bitcoin's Journey to $10,000

It was a landmark year for cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin’s ultra-quick journey from under $1,000 to $10,000 in just 11 months was the centerpiece of the excitement. This nifty infographic documents the ascent, as well as the major events that happened over the course of the year in the space.

11. Visualizing the Massive $15.7 Trillion Impact of AI

Visualizing the Massive $15.7 Trillion Impact of AI

Artificial intelligence is going to impact every facet of our lives, and this infographic summarizes the impact and potential breadth of possibilities that AI will bring once it is ubiquitous.

10. Donald Trump’s $20 Trillion Problem

The year started with the controversial inauguration of Donald Trump – and this video, which was released around that time, sums up a major issue he faces during his presidency. How he approaches the country’s record-high $20 trillion national debt will be an important factor in whether he is able to make America “great again”.

9. Every Single Cognitive Bias in One Giant Infographic

Every Single Cognitive Bias in One Giant Infographic

Has it been your lifelong dream to see every one of the existing 188 cognitive biases mapped out and organized in a useful codex? If so, then today is your lucky day.

8. Measuring Global Competitiveness

Measuring Global Competitiveness

What makes an economy competitive at the global level, and why?

This useful animation shows how countries compare using the Global Competitiveness Index – and then later in the post, the factors influencing competitiveness are explained and compared.

7. The Crypto Universe

The Crypto Universe

Back in September 2017, when a bitcoin was only worth $4,000, we made this chart to make sense of the cryptocurrency universe. It compares the differences between Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Dash, and Ethereum Classic – and it shows key metrics around volume, market capitalization, and transactions.

It’s all fairly out of date now, but that’s how the crypto space rolls.

6. $63 Trillion of World Debt

$63 Trillion of World Debt

There is now a total of $63 trillion in global sovereign debt, and this colorful chart breaks it down by country and debt-to-GDP ratio. See the large version in all its glory here.

5. The Early Years of Warren Buffett

The Early Years of Warren Buffett

This marvelous infographic tells the story of Warren Buffet’s early years, including his various childhood business pursuits, his first stock purchase, and other events that have helped shape the Oracle of Omaha’s career. This is the start of our five-part Warren Buffett series, which will continue through 2018.

4. The World’s Top Brands

The World's Top Brands

What are the world’s most valuable brands? This big chart counts down the companies with the most brand value in 2017, and also gives historical perspective (shown above) on the most valuable brands over time.

3. The Origin Story of Tesla

The Origin Story of Tesla

Today, we know Tesla as an important leader in the green revolution, developing everything from electric semi-trucks to Powerwalls. However, Tesla’s success wasn’t always a given – and this beautiful infographic tells the story of Tesla’s early vision, the company’s strategy to shed the stigma around EVs, the cost overruns in developing the Roadster, and the company’s narrow escape from the brink of bankruptcy.

It was the first piece of our three-part Rise of Tesla Series – the rest will be released in early 2018.

2. Walmart Nation

Walmart Nation

This memorable chart shows that Walmart has the most employees in a whopping 22 states. With nearly one million views and 75,000 social media shares, this was our most-shared post of the year.

1. All of the World’s Money and Markets

All of the World's Money and Markets

A remake of our 2015 graphic that “put us on the map”, this is the latest update to All of the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization.

Including stats from both versions of the graphic, this visualization has now been seen by more than 1.5 million people on our site alone.

Honorable mentions:

The Jeff Bezos Empire in One Chart
Made after Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, showing all the companies that Bezos has invested in or bought.

The Numbers Behind the World’s Closest Trade Relationship
Statistics behind USA-Canada trade

Histomap: Visualizing the 4,000 Year History of Global Power
This crazy chart made in 1931 isn’t ours, but it’s super interesting.

How Billionaire Investors Hedge Against Geopolitical Black Swans
Why geopolitical risk is higher, and what billionaires are doing to protect their wealth

The $74 Trillion Economy in One Chart
The global economy visualized

And lastly, don’t forget to check out our roundups from previous years!

The Top 16 Infographics of 2016
The Top 15 Infographics of 2015
The Top 14 Infographics of 2014

And if you haven’t subscribed to our free mailing list or social feeds, make sure you do so below.

Have a great 2018!

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