Visual.ly: A Social Network … For Infographics

Everyone loves a good infographic. It is such an easy way to digest statistics instead of having to read endless lists of boring and confusing figures, and it certainly makes the lunch break browse of the ‘Net a lot more interesting. Websites such as Mashable publish plenty of infographics and visualisations on their website, and the useful thing about visualisations is that they can virtually be published on any topic, as long as there’s some degree of statistics involved (my particular favourite is this one on Angry Birds users).

But, what happens if you are searching for a particular visualisation, either for your article or just out of general interest? Yes, there’s the old-fashioned way of searching via Google or trawling through hundreds of sites, but surely you just want a site like Flickr where you can browse through infographics, without having to waste time searching for them?

This is exactly what Visual.ly is. Think of it as Flickr for infographics and visualisations. Signing up is completely free and there’s some exciting features built into it (with a couple more in the pipeline).

This sounds great, doesn’t it? Let’s take a closer look…

Introduction

Visual.ly is sort-of like a social network for infographic and visualisation sharing (talk about niche markets). You can explore, share and, in the near future, even create your own. When you open up the home page, you are greeted by a continuous scrolling of some of the best infographics currently on the website, and signing up takes a minute via the link on the top-right of the page (sign-up is free).

Visual.ly - Home

The home page of Visual.ly

Once you’re signed up you can start exploring and sharing!

Explore

Let’s say we are searching for a particular infographic about, say, Android. All you have to do is type Android into the search box, hit Enter, and Visual.ly will bring up a list of visualisations tagged with the keyword Android.

Visual.ly - Search

Searching for visualisations in Visual.ly

Whilst searching for visualisations, you can organise your results in a number of different ways, for example, by visualisations that are currently trending or by most commented or most viewed visualisations. You can also change the layout of your search results – the most useful view shows a description of the graphic so you can find exactly what you are looking for.

Visual.ly - descriptions

The description view lets you quickly find out more information about the infographics

Once you’ve found the one that you want, you can click on it to bring up a larger view. You can like and comment on individual info graphics. Unfortunately, you cannot download them for your own use – if you want to use it on your website then you have to embed it or post a link to it.

Visual.ly - view

Viewing an infographic in Visual.ly

If you spot an infographic that belongs you (and which isn’t credited), you can claim credit for it by submitting a link to the website that the infographic is originally on. Visual.ly will then check it and credit you as the designer of the infographic respectively!

Share

If you are a graphic designer and want to get your visualisation out there, Visual.ly will let you upload your own visualisation for the whole world to admire. Uploading your own infographics is simple, and you can upload them in JPG, JPEG, GIF and PNG formats.

Visual.ly - uploading

Uploading an infographic onto Visual.ly is quick and easy

Visual.ly lets other people either like or comment on your infographic, thereby making it easy to get feedback and improve on your designs for the future!

Create

Now comes the fun part. Visual.ly is working on a feature that will allow you to create your very own infographics, without any kind of graphical design knowledge whatsoever. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this review, this feature wasn’t yet available to test but by the sounds of it, it is something that is well worth looking forward to!

There is, however, a feature called Twitterize Yourself! already up and running. It analyses your Twitter profile, your followers and your tweeting habits and builds up a fun infographic based on the information provided (here’s my example). Or, you can compare yourself to a celebrity (here’s Me vs. Lady Gaga)

Visual.ly - Twitterize

Twitterize Yourself allows you to create a visualisation about your Twitter habits

To get started, you simply enter your Twitter credentials, then choose either Solographic (for a graphic just about your own Twitter profile) or Faceoff (if you want to compare yourself to someone else). You can choose your own gender, hair colour, skin colour and more. It’s utterly pointless but tremendous fun!

Visual.ly - Twitterize options

The various options available when creating your Twitter visualisation

Final Thoughts

Visual.ly is a lovely, simple to use website where you can waste away a happy hour or two simply browsing through or commenting on other people’s visualisations. It is unique on the Net (as far as I know there is no other website like it, but please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!) and it is well-designed and features a rich library of visualisations and infographics.

I for one am really looking forward to the visualisation creation tool, it’ll really open up the world of infographics to complete graphic design noobs (like me) and I’m sure that more self-created infographics will be popping up on blogs and Twitter feeds soon after it is released. Bring it on!


Summary

A social network allowing you to view, create and explore visualisations and infographics.

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