Today Visual.ly, which helps people create and share visualizations, debuted an updated version of their website focused on making discovering infographics easier, and tailored to users’ interests. The new version also aims to help the community of over 32,000 designers promote their infographics, and connect with brands and publishers who are looking to commission work. The company, which launched in 2011, now gets around two million visitors per month.
Visual.ly CEO Stew Langille said this the first big revamping of the website since it launched in 2011. He said the new features are designed to help grow Visual.ly’s community of developers, designers, data scientists, journalists, and consumers. “This is really the first big relaunch of the website since we launched last year,” Langille said. “This is a new platform launch for us to embrace the community, and allow for greater collaboration within the community.”
New features include an activity feed for designers, notifications when someone interacts with a graphic a designer has posted, the ability to follow designers you like and post work samples, and to add comments or request feedback from other community members. Later this summer the company will add a marketplace, which will let companies and publishers commission infographics from designers in the community, and process those transactions. Langille said this will be the company’s main source of revenue, since they’ll take a percentage of each transaction. “The majority of that revenue is going to go towards designers, analysts, developers, but our role is really to facilitate that,” Langille said.
With the addition of these designer-centric features and the upcoming marketplace launch, Visual.ly is becoming yet another promotional tool for designers. Langille said they are working with LinkedIn on a different integration, but that allowing designers to connect their Visual.ly account to their LinkedIn profile is something they’ve considered. Langille said they’re also big fans of design communities like Forrst, COLOURlovers and Dribbble, and could see them partnering to amp up designers’ portfolios. They’re also in talks with data science company Kaggle about how they can leverage their data, and Langille also said Prezi could be a potential partner, so designers could import their visualizations into Prezi after they’re completed.
The company isn’t just focused on designers though, and launched its Create tool in March 2012, which allows anyone to create an infographic based on their Twitter or Facebook accounts. Similar DIY infographic tools like Infogram and Easel.ly have popped up, but Langille said that while they will be introducing an update to the Create tool, it will introduce new templates and feeds, but won’t allow people to upload their own data and turn it into a custom visualization. Langille said they’re also beta testing several other features, which they’ll roll out to the public based on feedback. “Our end goal long-term is to give tools for people on the platform,” Langille said.
In the next few months the team will be focused on getting the marketplace up and running, and Langille said they will also be working on more collaboration and workflow tools, as well as more educational tools through the blog, meetups, and conferences. He also hinted that they’ll be raising funding sometime in the next year. Ultimately Langille said today’s update is about making Visual.ly a place where everyone in the data visualization community can come to find, commission, design, or discuss data visualizations. If they can make the platform a go-to place for both designers, data scientists and brands, and build a thriving marketplace, they could find a way to both create community and a sustainable revenue model.