This is one of those topics about which, I admit, I know very little. I’ve never had the opportunity to be involved in the development of one, so my personal perspective here will be next to nil. But I know this is something which many communicators use or need to know about, so over the last few weeks, I’ve done a bit of research, and compiled some information I hope will be helpful for you.
And if you’ve used infographics before, please tell me your experience in the Comment section below! I’d love to hear more from someone who’s created this useful form of visual communication.
What Is It?
Unless you’ve taken a vow of staying off the interwebz, you’ve probably seen an inforgraphic before. But what’s the formal definition? Short for information graphic, an infographic is a picture that presents data in a visually dynamic design, combined with storytelling and insights, that helps communicate messages to their audiences.
For some examples of great infographics, check out this article on Hubspot.
Should You Ever Use An Inforgraphic?
Like any form of communication, infographics are great if used properly, but can be turn off an audience if done poorly. Don’t use it just because you want to. First decide if you have a comprehensive set of data for which you feel would be most easily digested by your readers if represented graphically. Then consult your graphic designer to make sure (s)he feels confident that it can be executed effectively. Don’t force it just because you want to use this medium.
Think in Terms of Graphics
A bad infographic can be misleading and confusing, so being on the same page with your designer is key. Bringing your own ideas will definitely help in the process, but it’s important that you think in graphic terms. Visualizing information in this way doesn’t come easily to everyone. But if you can establish standards and concepts with your designer, and see through the process, your chances of successful infographic building increase greatly.
Tell A Cohesive Story
Infographics aren’t just about presenting data in a pretty way; they should tell a story. So be sure your audience can get the story you want to convey without having to read an article. All good stories have a beginning, middle and end. So for instance, how can you visually represent the growth in customer satisfaction before and after a significant organizational or product change? The reader should be able to see that customers were unhappy, your organization made a change to improve their experience, and the evidence that the change was effective and the satisfaction rates increased as a result.
Pay Attention to Graphic Design Principles
If you’re new to infographics, it can be like having a new toy. You want to play with it right away, but it’s important to read the directions! That’s a metaphorical way of saying, be smart. Be sure you and your graphic designer don’t get so excited to build your visual that the basic principles of design are overlooked.
- Use distinctive, attractive colors, but adhere to some kind of uniform. Don’t use colors that don’t look good together and might distract the audience.
- Be sure that representative elements are distinguishable and consistent if used repeatedly.
- Too many elements, bad font choices, unnecessary blank space – these are all design mistakes that can kill your infographic.
- Make sure your visual has unity and elements don’t seem to be placed in an ad hoc manner.
- This relates in a big part to the storytelling element of your infographic. Do your beginning, middle, and end elements flow seamlessly into one another?
So here’s a little of my limited knowledge on infographics. I hope I was able to give a bit of basic insight for some readers, who share my lack of experience. Like I mentioned above, if you’ve been involved in building or using infographics in your communications, let us know your thoughts in the Comment section.
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