02.08.2017 by Marisa Krystian
An infographic is more than just a pretty picture – it’s a valuable business tool that communicates data more effectively than text alone. In fact, infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than other any other type of content. Infographics make it easy to share complex information in just seconds, which is what you need to grab people’s attention.
In this post, we’ll show you 10 steps designed to help you find your story, pick a design, make effective infographics, and promote your work.
Building a great infographic can seem overwhelming, but not if you follow our advice. Navigate the Prezi presentation below to explore 10 steps you can take to build a great infographic, or scroll down to view each step in more detail.
1) Know Your Story
First, find a narrative. What story are you trying to tell? An infographic without a compelling story can be dull. You may want to simplify a complicated idea, explain a process, highlight trends or make an argument.
An infographic without a compelling story can be dull. You may want to simplify a complicated idea, explain a process, highlight trends or make an argument.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the goal of your infographic?
- Who is your target audience?
- Where will they find your infographic?
- Are you focusing on data or visuals?
- What visualizations work best with your data?
2) Gather Clean Data
Infographics backed by solid data are much more engaging, persuasive, and shareable. The next step is to gather data that helps tell your story. The problem is that all datasets are not created equal. Spreadsheets, PDFs, and non-traditional data sources need to be cleaned up before they can come to life.
Raw data can be messy and hard to work with. Luckily, there are several free tools online that help you find, clean, and sort your data. Once you’ve organized your information you are ready to start visualizing.
Side Note: If you don’t have data from research you’ve conducted yourself, there are plenty of wonderful free data sources on the web you can easily access. Just make sure to add the source of your data at the bottom of your infographic for transparency.
3) Write a Good Headline
The headline of your infographic is crucial. Vague, uninformative headlines will kill the excitement of your infographic and turn off viewers. Bad titles have the ability to ruin hours of hard work.
In fact, researchers at MIT conducted an eye-tracking study to determine how people process infographic information. They found that good headlines are the key to audience retention. They draw your viewer in, explain the journey they are about to go on and make them curious to learn more.
4) Type of Infographic
Now that you know your story and have your data, it’s time to choose the type of infographic you want to create.
There are a bunch of different types of infographics, designed to highlight different types of data and information. If you’re looking for inspiration, Pinterest is a fantastic resource for infographics and data visualizations.
We’ve shared 12 of the most common types here:
- Data Centric – Shows statistical information in a variety of charts and figures.
- Timeline – Shows information over a chronological time period, usually on a line.
- How To – Shows a step-by-step process or the progression of information.
- Geographical – Location based infographic using maps for geographical data.
- Comparison – Compares and contrasts two different subjects or topics.
- Hierarchical – Shows a chart with predefined levels or the hierarchy of a topic.
- Flowchart – Starts at a single point, then shows how the topic branches or grows.
- List – Shows mostly text and icons, listing information about a given subject.
- Anatomical – Breaks down a subject’s composition, or shows how it works.
- Visual Resume – Shows an applicant’s skills and experience using visuals and data.
- Photo-Based – Based on a photo, uses text and data to explain a point.
- Interactive – Online infographic that lets the viewer modify, control and explore data.
5) Choose the Aesthetic
You’re halfway there! This is the fun part. It’s time to dictate the style of your infographic. It’s always a good idea to brainstorm on paper first, then you can pick an aesthetic. Make sure it is appropriate and matches the content you wish to share.
Pick colors, fonts, and charts that work together so your infographic appears uniform and professional throughout.
Color can grab people’s attention, set the mood, and influence perception. There are multiple free tools online to help you discover great color palettes. You should check out Adobe’s Color Wheel, ColourLovers, and Colormind.
- Pick contrasting colors for comparisons – Contrasting colors help the viewer differentiate the information quickly.
- Use color to highlight your most important information – Color can be a great way to guide the viewer’s eye to key points on your infographic.
- Select colors that appear in nature – People respond better to colors they are familiar with; colors that appear naturally in the world around them.
- Consider the psychology of color – Different colors make people feel different things!
- Use branded colors for marketing materials or presentations – Customizing your data visualizations to match your company’s color scheme helps you align with your brand and keeps your messaging consistent. It also helps with brand recognition.
Finding the right fonts for your infographic can be tough because there are literally thousands to choose from. It is an important part of the design process, and easily one that is often overlooked. You should check out Google Fonts, CSS Font Stack, and Wordmark.
- Use the same font set throughout your entire slide presentation, and use no more than two complementary fonts (i.e. Arial and Arial Bold).
- Know the difference between a serif font (Times New Roman) and a sans serif font (Arial or Helvetica). Sans serif fonts offer a more modern look and serif fonts appear more traditional.
- Match the typography to your theme – What tone are you trying to convey?
- Make sure you consider alignment when placing your text. Your infographic will appear much more professional if your copy is aligned properly.
6) Pick the Right Charts
If you have data you want to visualize, make sure you use the right charts. While your data might work with multiple chart types, it’s up to you to select the one that ensures your message is clear and accurate.
Follow best charting practices. Your numbers need to add up and charts need to be scaled accordingly. What would you like to show? There are four main types of charts:
Comparison – Comparison charts are used to compare one or more datasets. They can compare items or show differences over time.
Relationship – Relationship charts are used to show a connection or correlation between two or more variables.
Composition – Composition charts are used to display parts of a whole and change over time.
Distribution – Distribution charts are used to show how variables are distributed over time, helping identify outliers and trends.
7) Focus on Important Data
Good storytellers know to not ‘bury the lead.’ This means you shouldn’t wait to share your most interesting or important information. It’s essentially the backbone of your story. Build off of it.
Lead with your most compelling statistic, determine what supporting data should follow, and work off that hierarchy. Add supporting visuals, stats, and visualizations.
8) Keep it Simple
Think about the message you want to share with your data and get rid of anything that doesn’t help you tell your story.
Remove the ‘noise.’
A common mistake made by design newbies is including too much information in one single infographic. Unless you know how to design complex data visualizations, our best advice is to keep it simple.
You don’t want to make your reader work harder than they have to in order to understand your work. Don’t use too much text or too many numbers. Avoid grid lines or legends that don’t support your message. A busy visual isn’t fun to look at and often distracts from the story.
9) Edit, Edit, Edit
Once you have a rough copy of your infographic, it’s time to refine your vision. Evaluate the design and tweak it until it is clear, simple, and easy to read. Feel free to have your boss, friends, or co-workers look over your work and give you feedback.
After you’ve determined what isn’t working, go ahead and make edits until you love the end product. This step takes time but is totally worth it.
If you’d like to create a beautifully branded infographic, try Infogram Business. Sign up for a free 14-day trial which includes chart analytics, logo uploads, and custom links.
10) Promote and Distribute
Creating the best infographic on the web is only half the battle. You need to share it! Effectively promoting and distributing your infographic is the best chance you have to get more traffic and possibly go viral.
There are multiple ways to get your polished infographic in front of a diverse audience. Here are a few proven ways to share your infographic online:
1) Email your infographic to contacts you’ve made. Ask your network to embed it on their site. This is a win-win: you offer them free quality content and you get more reach with minimal effort.
2) Send out an email newsletter. Emails with visuals get more attention than text-only messages. With a little creativity, your email newsletter can get way more interesting.
3) Write a social media specific release. Write a catchy headline, share some stats, explain who you are, and offer pre-written social posts ready to simply copy and paste.
4) After you’ve published your infographic, you need to create a social media sharing plan. Enable social sharing buttons, make your infographic embeddable, then schedule a roll-out of tweets, Facebook and Google+ posts, and plans for Pinterest and Tumblr.
6) Start reaching out manually to blogs and popular Twitter accounts. Infographics are naturally a highly-shareable visual medium. Search for influencers and Twitter accounts related to the topic covered in your infographic – some will share, some won’t.
Ready to create an awesome infographic of your own?
- Sign up or log in to Infogram to start a new project
- Create a new infographic from one of our templates
- Upload or copy and paste your data
- Add images, GIFs, or icons
- Customize labels, fonts, colors
- Publish your chart to share on the web 👏
Learn more: 12 Most Common Types of Infographics
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