“Flatten the curve”: It was the battle cry of 2020. Though the visual was first published in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control, this year, it was turned into an animation and shared more than five million times on Twitter, distilling an important public health concept into an at-a-glance graphic. It helped persuade people that the pandemic is real and their individual actions matter.
It’s just one example of how charts, graphs, and illustrations helped us make sense of the chaos and trauma of 2020. In newsrooms and academic settings all over the world, information designers have worked tirelessly to communicate the impact of the crisis and arm the public with critical health information. The result is an impressive output of visualizations that have not only been informative; they’ve helped save lives.