You’ve probably seen them in classrooms, offices, and just about everywhere online – Infographics.
Infographics do just what their name suggests, they supply you with a lot of info, all wrapped up in a stylish graphic. Infographics have been proven to be incredibly successful forms of communication, and brand promotion, so needless to say they’ve become pretty important to many digital marketers.
So, with that in mind, let’s explore how you can get started with your own infographic right this second.
Why Even Bother With Infographics?
There are a lot of reasons to choose infographics, but the main argument is this: Infographics are visual items, and humans are ‘visually wired’ creatures. In fact, 90% of the information transmitted to your brain is visual. That’s a lot.
Just to add to the staggering statistics, let me also tell you that
humans process visual scenes about
60,000 times faster than they do text. Again, that’s a whole lot faster!
So, it probably makes sense that
people only read and process about
on average nowadays,
because their brains are hunting for that visual cue to latch onto. So, how do we make that information accessible and readable for consumers?
Spoiler: this is where infographics come in.
Infographics take all of that dense textual information and convert it into an easy to read, highly visual piece of content that people are much more likely to read, understand, and remember.
Plus, they’re highly shareable, so not only are they willing to explain a lot of information in a quick, accessible way, but they’re also ready and able to promote your brand. How nice of them.
All of this is well and good, but infographics seem pretty labour-intensive, time consuming and potentially expensive to create, right? Wrong! While, of course, some take an impressive amount of time and effort to create, this doesn’t mean yours has to.
Start with a beautiful pre-made template or a fresh canvas and simply drag and drop graphics, text boxes, and anything else you need right onto the page. In just a few clicks you’ll have a stunning infographic. Too easy!
Now we have that sorted, let’s look at how to design and create your infographic.
Finding Your Narrative
An infographic, to the untrained eye, may seem like a cluster of graphs, charts, and statistics designed to look fancy, but what a good infographic does is tells a story.
Try to think of your infographic like an essay, you first introduce the topic, and then logically explain the topic bit by bit, topic by topic, etc. Let’s look at an example by Brianne Boland that does just this.
introduces the topic.
There’s a striking title design, a plug for the infographic creators, and a brief summary of the overall topic at hand – saving the whales.
the complication is introduced.
The ‘complication’ here is the problem that the infographic will aim to solve/answer. Another example of possible complications are: ‘Why is content marketing important to my brand?’ or ‘Ingredients and tools you need to bake a wedding cake’.
In this case, the introduced complication is ‘Why Whales? Why Now?’.
After this, then comes
the central argument.
This is where you let your research, facts, figures, and data representations shine. You are able to ‘argue’ and prove your point through well-organised and presented graphics and data visualisations.
In this case, the infographic appeals to readers’ sympathies by explaining how whales feel emotions, are incredibly smart, yet are endangered and hunted.
And finally, comes the last part of the narrative,
What has been learned, what do you do with this knowledge, where can you find more information?
In this case, there is a brief summary of the presented information, followed by an actionable tip – sign the petition to save the whales. And thus, the infographic’s job is done.
Of course, this is just one of many ways to structure and find your infographic’s narrative. But do look around at examples through this article and externally and try to note the narratorial story they tell through layout, design, and copy, and try to incorporate some story into your infographic for maximum effectiveness.
Have you ever seen an infographic and not known where to look first? Well, that infographic probably didn’t have a very strong flow.
What do I mean by ‘flow’? When designing an infographic (or any design, really) there are certain things you can do to help consumers’ eyes travel around the page. One useful technique for infographics that you may see a lot is the use of leading lines.
Check out this infographic by No Pork Pies that uses a dotted line to guide consumers’ eyes from point to point, weaving in and out of the design.
Organising Your Information
So, you’ve collected your information, have a basic idea of your narrative, now comes the point where you decide how you present and organise your information.
There are a lot of infographic ‘types’, so take your time, explore different options and find which is best for your topic. But for now, let’s run over a few common types and applications.
Timelines are a very familiar format to many people, so chances are everyone will know how to navigate through your design. Plus, they’re a great tool for creating a more linear narrative for your topic. Some other uses for timelines are:
- Explaining the history of something, e.g. the origin of a brand
- Representing the evolution of something, e.g. an artistic movement
- Putting a lot of information into a simple and easy to manage order
Check out this infographic that runs through the history of computers by Akita, and uses a timeline and some sleek illustrations to show the visual (and technological) evolution of each model over time. Be sure to check the infographic out in full over here.
Alphabetising information is a tried and tested method in many fields, but what about infographics? A trend in some infographics is to present your data alphabetically. While this method is by no means for everybody and every topic, it is good for:
- Adding some structure to a very general topic
- Catching consumers’ eyes and drawing in interest
- Can put a new spin on an old topic
Check out this alphabetised infographic by Steven Lowe, appropriately called ‘The ABCs of Landing Pages’. Check it out in full, from A to Z via Copyblogger.
Comparing and Contrasting
Comparing two opposing ideas or concepts is a great way to explain two ideas/concepts/elements quickly and simply. Comparative infographics work wonders for any topics where you are:
- Visualising pros and cons
- Showing the wrong and right way to do something
- Highlighting similarities and differences between two ideas/elements
Have a look at this clean infographic by Visage.co that compares the ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ way to design an effective visual communication. By visualising each graphic side by side, consumers are able to pick out exactly what differences there are between each approach and learn much faster. See the graphic in full via Digital Information World.
A lot of infographics deal with statistics, and if you are working with numbers, facts, and research data, presenting your infographic as a series of data representations can make the information a lot less stuffy and more engaging. Data representations can:
- Make data easy to understand at a glance
- Be tailored to suit any application – from professional scenes, to more casual ones
- Be very persuasive
Have a look at this data-rich infographic by Fast Company that takes a lot of numbers and data and condenses it into accessible, understandable and functional data representations.
Designing Your Infographic
Develop a Style
This is the fun part. This is where you get the chance to dictate what will be unique about your infographic and how you will tackle your design.
Choose and develop a style and ‘tone’ for your infographic that you can carry on through the whole piece. Make sure it’s a style that can suit every point your infographic is going to make, and one that you can consistently use throughout.
Check out this infographic design by Rachel Ignotofsky that takes the playful route in discussing the layers of the earth. By personifying each layer with faces, and rendering the design in bright, inviting colours, she creates a unique take on this commonly discussed topic.
Present Your Data In Interesting Ways
So you’re designing an infographic, chances are you might have to create a graph, a chart or some form of data visualisation. So, why not make it interesting?
The following image is from a project called Design x Food by Ryan MacEachern. MacEachern’s infographic concerns the nutritional value of a specific diet. So, since the data collected was concerning food, he decided to visualise the data using food in a colourful, fun, topical, and engaging way.
In a similar vein, the following infographic by Joint London is populated by a lot of data visualisations, many of which have been visualised in some sort of topical way. For example, the ‘hot drinks consumed’ pie chart is rendered in a coffee mug. Don’t be afraid to get playful with your data visualisations and find a unique way to present your figures.
Keep Things Simple
As with any design, there’s a lot of rules of thumb that you can adhere to or throw out the window, but if you’re a beginner designer and looking for a quick rundown and a few ways to ensure your infographic looks sharp, here’s a few quick tips:
Keep your colour palette small. Two to three colours is generally regarded as the sweet spot for a clean and sophisticated colour palette, but you may need more or less. Add or subtract colours as you need, but do it purposefully. For more colour tips from designers, have a look at these 10 colour secrets.
Bump up the contrast. Contrast is an important element of design, and infographics are no exception. In short, the higher your contrast, the more legible and readable your infographic will be. So when it comes time to design your infographic, ensure you choose colours with a good amount of contrast.
Check out this infographic by World Bank that uses a small colour palette with a sharp degree of contrast to make a clean and legible design.
Keep your font palette small. Similar to the colour palette point, two to three fonts in one design is regarded as a good amount. If you use too many fonts you risk your design looking clunky and overly complicated, so keep your circle small.
Try to pair your fonts with purpose. Just like people, some fonts get along well and some just do not. Experiment with different combinations of fonts until you find two or so that work well. For a tutorial to font pairing, be sure to check this handy guide out.
Don’t forget your hierarchy. Typographical hierarchy is a huge player in the game of infographics, so don’t forget about it. Be sure you have your headings, sub headings, body copy, etc. all sorted and clear to keep your design legible and readable. Here’s a few hierarchical golden rules to help you master your type.
Have a look at this infographic by WhoIsHostingThis that only uses two typefaces to create a beautiful and effective design. Try to find typefaces with a variety of weights to make your font palette go much further.
Reap The Benefits Of Symbols
A big reason why infographics are so successful is, as mentioned earlier, their use of visuals to communicate. So, when designing your infographic try to really reap the biggest benefit possible out of your symbols in order to communicate.
Though, it is very important to note: do not go overboard with the symbols. Use them wherever needed, yes, but be sure to balance them out with some type, otherwise your infographic will look like it’s written in code, and the effectiveness of your symbols will be lost. So, keep your symbols powerful and purposeful.
Create An Eye-Catching Headline
Just like a novel or a film, your title is pretty important – both in terms of design and copywriting. Take the time to really do your infographic justice by creating an eye-catching and effective title. Let’s look at some techniques to help you get the most out of your headline.
Make It Big and Bold
Give your audience no chance but to know what your infographic is about. Big letters and a bold typeface can help make your title pop. Pay attention to the contrast of your type and background colours as well, if you had a big title in a mint green colour on a light blue background, your contrast would be low, and not attract as much attention.
Take a leaf from the WhoIsHostingThis book and use big, high contrast, bold lettering to really hone your message to anybody who scrolls by.
Emphasise The Number Of Points
Is your infographic a list of solutions or steps? Consider emphasizing the number of steps/tips/items your infographic has to offer to draw people in.
This technique is great for setting your infographic apart from others’ – do you have more tips than others? Do you promise fewer steps to achieve a certain goal? Flaunt that figure and entice readers in.
Have a look at this title for a very eco-friendly infographic by Good To Be Home that uses colour, scale and hierarchy to emphasise the 50 ways your home could save the earth. With a clean and effective illustration framing the title, this infographic is both inviting and intriguing.
Pose A Question
Break down that fourth wall and ask your consumers to self-reflect. Propose a question to them that your infographic will help to answer in order to immediately immerse your audience in the infographic.
Have a look at this beautifully illustrated title for an infographic by Zintro that asks audiences if they are an expert. The whimsical illustration makes the topic a lot more approachable and visually engaging.
Sharing Your Infographic With The World
Circulate Your Infographic On Social Media
I’m sure this point is no surprise to anyone, but social media is definitely a one stop shop for circulating your infographic around the world wide web. Pay special attention to the more visual social media like Pinterest, as this is where people are most likely to stumble upon your infographic and share it around.
One thing to note before you put your beautiful infographics on social media, though, is sizing.
A lot of infographics tend to be quite long image files, and if this is the case with yours, you may want to consider just posting a section of your infographic, or a title image with a link to the graphic in full. Check out how Daily Infographic have done just that below.
Why do we do this? Well, the alternative is awkward-looking (and impossible to read) posts that look a bit like this:
This doesn’t have to be a drama, though. Simply crop the top title of your infographic design and use this, or design a whole new one in your style using Canva’s social media templates to ensure that perfect post size for every social media.
Create Supporting Content
Infographics are often strong enough to stand on their own two feet, but to really beef up your infographic, consider writing an accompanying blog post, summary, recap, etc. of the content to add in more information and attract attention back to the original source – you.
An accompanying blog post/written piece is a great technique for infographics that aren’t as text-heavy as you can expand on certain points and ideas in the content. Plus, accompanying written content gives you the chance to link to external sites, further research, and your infographic sources.
Don’t Forget To Credit
You’ve spent all this time and effort on your stunning infographic, so don’t let the credit for it go to the wrong person! Remember to pop your brand logo, your name, website, or any other credits necessary somewhere on your infographic to ensure the content is traceable to you.
Don’t forget to credit your sources as well, if necessary. Not only does this reinforce the legitimacy of your statistics and info, it also gives credit to the researches and organisations behind the numbers you are using.
A good position for your credits is the footer of your infographic, as this is where most people will look for a source name.
Sources don’t have to be ugly either. Check out this footer design by TollFreeForwarding and Gryffin Media for their infographic on Social Media Etiquette (which you can view in full here), and see how they’ve integrated it into the design in a natural, fun, and simple way.
Over To YouInfographics can be equal parts fun and functional, which is probably why they have remained so popular for so long. When created with purpose and care, infographics can promote your brand and transmit big chunks of information in one fell swoop.
In short, they’re a pretty handy device to have under your belt.
What are your thoughts on infographics? Have you created your own or do you now have plans to? If so, what techniques and tricks do you find most helpful to you? Feel free to let us know down in the comments.[