Are infographics a powerful marketing tool or just a trending buzzword? Well, the answer is both.
When done correctly, infographics can be very effective and much more successful with recallability than traditional text and bullet points. How successful, you ask? Infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than a text article.
More and more people want infographics, but does the content match the medium? There are many factors that make a successful infographic, but here are seven that as a designer I feel are highly important.
Make sure the content lends itself to an infographic. Is there enough content that can be pulled out and made graphically relevant? Is the content telling a single story? What’s the big idea? The content should make connections throughout, while supporting the overall idea or story. Make sure content is focused and streamlined on one topic. (Sometimes there is enough content to make multiple infographics.) If it passes the test, then keep moving; if not, perhaps the content needs to be adjusted or a different medium should be selected.
Before you jump into designing your infographic, make sure you have a plan of attack. Think about what you want to do with it visually - which content can you pull out and make a focus and how will everything tie together? Like designing a website, it’s good to start out with a wireframe so you can make visual connections and see where you may run into issues before you get too far down the rabbit hole. (Plus, paper and pencil is still fun.)
Once you have a solid plan, it’s time to start working on a style. Choose a style that is visually appealing, consistent and has a clear hierarchy - one that relates well with your target audience. Typically, it’s best to limit fonts and colors, keep image styles and graphics consistent.
The real purpose of an infographic is to take a complex idea and make it easily digestible in a visual manner. To accomplish this, you must make sure your infographic doesn’t get too complex. Ideally, make visually appealing graphics supported by short amounts of copy. To tell the story, the content of the infographic must flow in a readable manner, the visual path should be easy to follow and the content shouldn't be too busy to effectively comprehend.
When you get to a point in which you have a firm hold on where content is going to go and what the main call-outs wil be, it’s time to think about it more creatively. Sometimes big numbers and bar graphs are the way to go depending on the goals of the infographic, but often you can think about it a little differently. Sometimes you must “think outside the bar.” Without sacrificing readability, try to find different ways to display content or unique graphics to incorporate into the flow. Always take a step back and ask yourself, “How can I make this better?”
It’s nice to give readers something unexpected - it keeps them engaged while digesting your infographic. Try to find a unique statistic. This is a good place to add a humorous or "wow" moment. It’s important to make your infographic memorable and something that people want to share through their social networks.
Now that you have created an incredibly creative infographic, it’s time to go back and make sure it is accomplishing the original intent. Ask yourself a few questions: Is it telling the story? Is it a manageable length, or does it get overwhelming? Is there enough white space to make it easy to follow and quickly pull out key points visually? Will it be readable if it’s downsized on different devices? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then congratulations - you’ve successfully created an effective infographic.