Tips for Making an Effective Infographic

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Clients are always asking us about our infographics, but they don’t always have a clear picture of what they want or what is needed to create something that has a wow factor. We’re able to help with the research process and connecting the dots, but the best infographics come from clients that have a story to tell or want to shout their ideas from the Internet rooftops. If you’re thinking about adding some color to your website, here’s what you need to knock your infographic out of the park.

Have One Strong Point and Build Your Infographic Around It

The first challenge our clients face is deciding what message to send with their infographic. They may have a general concept based on their products or industry, but they lack a strong message or idea that it can be tied to. We’ve all seen generic designs about the number of plastic bottles in landfills or the number of years Styrofoam takes to break down, but they rarely stick with us. The concept of recycling isn’t strong enough to get users sharing.

This is one of my favorite infographics ever, and it sticks with you because it focuses on one point: humans are a lot more dangerous to sharks than sharks are to humans. You don’t need endless pages of data to send a message; sometimes all you need is two lines.

Shark Attack

[Screenshot of and credit to: http://laughingsquid.com/shark-attack-infographic-shows-the-staggering-number-of-sharks-killed-by-humans-every-year/ ]

Choose your most important key to the business or industry and base your infographic around it. The design doesn’t have to be as simple as this one, but having a central idea will keep everyone on the project focused on what’s important.

Find New Data and Concepts that Few People Know

People look for newness when they’re on the Internet, and they’re not going to share infographics about common knowledge. Does soda contain a lot of sugar? Do more people use smartphones today than five years ago? Is Pluto far away? If your main idea is a basic concept that most modern-day Internet users are familiar with, then you’re going to have to try ten times as hard to make your presentation stand out.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be done. Josh Worth created an incredibly long webpage to showcase just how massive our solar system is by making the user scroll endlessly through the distance of each planet. It breaks the typical infographic mold by taking a well-known concept and conveying it in a context never seen before and creating an experience.

[Screenshot of and credit to: http://joshworth.com/dev/pixelspace/pixelspace_solarsystem.html ]

Start by finding new thoughts on the industry that would even impress the experts. Research concepts that few people have seen before. You want to show them something new, and the first step is finding the data to impress them. Many companies actually tie infographic creation into white paper data or survey research because it’s full of lessons that are straight off the presses. This is a great place to start.

One more thing: it’s almost 2016, so any statistics that date before 2012 are ancient history. Remember, we’re looking for newness!

A Visually Boring Infographic is a Research Paper

Once we have the strong idea and in-depth research to back it up, we hand over the data to our designers and start collaborating with you on the visual aspects of your infographic. After all, if you were looking for a data-dump, you would have written a term paper on the subject.

We’re also looking for uniqueness. There are tons of infographics out there that use spoonfuls of sugar to highlight how much sugar we consume every time we pop open a can of soda. Even if you have groundbreaking data, your audience is going to scroll by if it’s something that’s already been done.

[Screenshot of and credit to: https://www.google.com/search?q=chloroform+plants&espv=2&biw=1069&bih=559&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAmoVChMItZKCvsT6yAIVQeYmCh0EygpP#tbm=isch&q=sugar+in+diet+soda

Our designers will work with you to find an uncommon visual to showcase your new and exciting data. We want to highlight your brilliant ideas and make people stop and read. If you want to be more hands-on and suggest your own ideas, we more than welcome them. Start by checking out some of our guides to color, elements of design, and ideation to get your juices flowing.

Add Color, but Make It Readable

As you take your idea and run with it in a visually stunning fashion, remember to pause to make sure it’s readable. Take a step back and let a fresh set of eyes see your work. We have multiple processes in place where designers with artistic eyes critique each other’s work, and then an unbiased third party scans it for readability. Fortunately, everyone’s a critic, and that’s how you can start to find difficult data, confusing visuals, or clumped statistics.

A confusing infographic will lose your point and become un-sharable. You won’t see the traffic or engagement that you desire if people respond poorly to it. Grab your finance coordinator or a co-worker who doesn’t handle a creative aspect of the business. After they review your infographic, ask them what the main point was. The most important part is conveying the big idea that the whole design is based around.

Once the idea is clear, work backward through their favorite and least favorite points and designs so you know what to keep and what to send back for revision. You wouldn’t turn in a paper without a second draft, so take a step back and edit your infographic. Creativity and readability need to go hand in hand.

Your Big Infographic Should Turn Into Mini-Graphics

As a “Star Wars” nut, I’m all about memes that explore this awesome fandom, which is why I needed a reason to include this graphic in my article:

[Screenshot of and credit to: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/116913-Pretty-Infographics-Explain-The-Math-of-Star-Wars#&gid=gallery_703&pid=7 ]

This image brings users off of Facebook and into Escapist Magazine where they can find an entire infographic slide show about “Star Wars” math. A smart infographic can be broken into smaller bits and used for social posts, email headers, and presentations to clients. We like to believe that it’s the added value that comes with ordering an infographic from us — bonus content, if you will.

As we’re sending you proofs, look to break out the best bits and use them throughout your marketing materials. Like any blog article or white paper, your smaller points should relate back to the main idea and drive your message home.

Whether you like it or not, most of your customers are audio or visual learners, and you’re not going to reach them through lengthy white papers. Think of infographic readers and as a second target market and cater to them. Remember, if you have a strong idea, you don’t need a lengthy explanation to prove your point — all you need are a few hard-hitting visuals and some newness. Whatever you’re looking for, we’re ready to use our expertise and creativity to make your message pop.

About the author

Amanda Dodge