Let’s face it: data and numbers are important, but they’re not the most thrilling things to look at. It’s hard to get excited while you’re reading a white paper filled with text-heavy paragraphs and endless charts with no character.
Infographics fix this issue. They morph complex information into a simple and entertaining story that guides the eyes of your audience through branded icons and visual metaphors. When I think about what makes a fascinating infographic, I think about simplicity, strong visuals and consistency. Here are a few tips you can use to begin creating compelling infographics:
To me, drawing out your idea is one of the most important steps when creating an infographic. Because there are endless design possibilities, it is often challenging to put your first icon on the blank canvas without a general layout sketched out. You may have a rough idea of how you want to visually communicate your data, but I’ve found that taking a few moments to draw out your content – even if it’s through stick figures and circles – saves a lot of time and headaches later down the road.
Keep it simple
Simplicity is what makes infographics so powerful. Turning complex data into simple, engaging visuals is a great way to share your story with audiences. As it is often said in the world of design, “less is more.” For this reason, it’s important to make your infographic copy and visuals tight and concise.
Avoid lengthy sentences and paragraphs so audiences focus on the important points, not the fluff text that surrounds them. If you are having trouble simplifying your text, try breaking up your points with bullets or making a visual that communicates your message through imagery.
Remember to leave room for negative space – it defeats the purpose of your infographic if its packed from edge to edge with information, no matter how great it looks. Try to avoid putting too much data on one graph. If you have a data-heavy graph, try splitting it up into different categories so you don’t get stuck with a 20-slice pie chart.
The more visuals the better
As I stated in a previous blog, audiences are beginning to prefer visuals over text – they are quicker to read and digest without too much strain. In fact, according to Inc., approximately 65% of the population are visual learners. This means more than half of us would choose an infographic over a text document.
During your design stage, analyze your messages and brainstorm if there are ways to turn text into images. Instead of writing, “car sales went up 150% this year,” try making an upward arrow from the top of a car containing “150%.”
Hunting for icons through search engines is a great solution if you are having trouble finding inspiration. I often find myself searching Google for meeting icons, book icons, food icons and everything in between. FlatIcon is also a great tool for access to a free icon library.
Consistency is key
Although visuals are important, it is imperative their look and feel are consistent across the board. Mismatching visuals can be distracting and unprofessional looking. A cartoon car icon will stick out like a sore thumb if all other visuals are real-world photos.
Also make sure color palettes, fonts, graphs and icons match each other throughout the infographic. Once you figure out these different elements, be sure to carry them over to future infographics so you deliver consistent and recognizable content time after time.
Tell a story
The point of an infographic is to guide audiences through a visual story. The way you strategically lay out your data and messaging should create a story that takes audiences on a journey from beginning to end. Fonts, icons, colors and visual direction all combine to give your audience an immediate message when they view your infographic.
For example, if you are telling a story about the history of an airport, get creative and consider using a winding runway instead of a standard timeline, clouds for text boxes and pilots for employee icons.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you are tasked with creatively communicating piles of data. Come to think of it, maybe I should have made an infographic instead?