Food Infographics: How to Visualize Food Effectively

What Is a Food Infographic?

Image via Flickr by GDS Infographics

An infographic is a popular visual used in content marketing to help convey data or information that may be difficult to verbalize or explain or may be complex for the reader to digest in a written text. An infographic can help you creatively describe a process or present data that will grab a viewer’s attention and add to the visual element of the content. In content marketing, readers are typically engaged with online content for a shorter period: Catching their attention and being able to explain information without losing them quickly is essential to engaging your audience.

Food infographics are a specific genre of infographics that help either explain a process related to food, describe the steps in a recipe, break down the ingredients of a specific dish, or detail data on food that has been presented in the content. These types of infographics are used not only to break down the data into a more understandable format, but also to engage the reader visually, often by enticing them to learn more about the topic.

Types of Food Infographics

While you can use infographics to create a data visualization for any type of food-related data, many of the typical food infographics fall into one of the following categories.

Recipe Infographics

These type of food infographics break down a recipe or parts of a complicated dish or meal, often providing you with a visual of the final portion as well as content relating to the various parts of the recipe. This infographic can be especially useful for recipes that may have complicated steps and one in which a visual aid would be beneficial.

Nutritional Infographics

A popular use of food infographics is to describe the nutritional value of certain parts of meals or specific foods. You can also use nutritional food infographics to illustrate what percentage of food should comprise healthy diets such as what is presented with one of the most well-known food infographics, the food pyramid.

Locational Food Infographics

Whether you’re focusing on types of regional wines or locations where specific spices are harvested, often maps can help visualize food data such as demonstrating areas where certain food has the highest concentration. These type of food infographics often employ color coding when dealing with a large number of geographical areas.

Data and Statistics

This type of food infographic can be used to convey statistical data on food such as food consumption, food spending, and food behaviors in a way that is visually appealing and creative. This presentation can help you avoid endless amounts of data in text required to convey this information.

What Are Some of the Difficulties of Creating Food Infographics?

Infographics traditionally started as a way to convey statistics and break down difficult topics for readers in items such as investigative pieces. Since the response to visuals is high among content marketing consumers, this use of infographics in more social articles such as home and nutrition pieces has led to an increased use of and need for quality food graphics.

Items such as pie or bar charts or color-coded United States election maps appeal to a viewer’s sense of graphic visualization to process much information quickly instead of attempting to push through vast amounts of numbers and data. In these cases, readers will be able to quickly locate specific information or the answers they need since the graphics will be able to help them sort through a large amount of data without needing to read and process it all.

When it comes to food, the process centers of our brain do not rely simply on visual clues and reading to garner information about it. The sensory perception that humans use to process food is a combination of touch, smell, taste, and sight. Unfortunately, with an infographic, you will need to rely on only visual cues you can give to viewers that will let them know about the food product. As such, the visuals must be compelling enough for readers to get past being unable to use their other senses.

Another difficulty you may have with food infographics is the way in which you present the data. When it comes to a food infographic, you will often have to show more unusual shapes than readers are used to processing, such as cuts of meat or portions on a plate, that will not be smooth or similar size lines. 

The reason many other infographics use devices such as pie charts and bar charts is that viewers can more quickly process the information and data being shown because they only have to process one item on each chart. With a bar graph, viewers are simply seeing which item is higher or longer; with a pie chart, they will be looking for which angle of the pie is greater or smaller. If you are creating an infographic that uses quantitative data, such as how many people eat chicken noodle soup for a cold depending on age category, you can rely on standard charting techniques that create a visualization, but often with food infographics, this reliance is not the case.

What Elements Should Be Included in a Great Food Infographic?

Image via Flickr by USDAgov

Now that you know the intricacies of creating a visually compelling food infographic, what elements do you need to help make your food infographic convey all of the information you need, keep readers’ attentions, and get them to share and engage with your content?

An Enticing Title

While your article or post probably has a title created to draw in readers, an infographic will need to have a title as it may be individually shared or displayed by a search engine. The title should not only be eye catching, but it should also let readers understand what data they are about to see.

Use Concise Text

In the body of your article or blog post, you’ll want to go into detail about the information that you have presented in your infographic. The text that accompanies the graphics should be short, concise, and to the point. Remember that the text should marry well to the graphic it is referring to and eliminate confusion with the reader. You will also want to make sure your text gets to the point and does not use any unnecessary words.

Limit White Space

While white space can be useful in other forms of marketing, in infographics, white space can cause an unnecessary break in the presented information or cause one section to unnecessarily stand out from others that are equally important. While infographics shouldn’t be overly cluttered, you should still always make good use of your design space. 

Think of white space as you would a plate. A hearty full meal will not leave white space on your plate. It’s best for your food infographic to contain as little large gaps of white space as possible.

Diversify Sources and Statistics

If your food infographic relies on sources and statistics for its content, use a good mix of data and sources so that the graphic will appear more authoritative. If your information comes from a sampling of only 100 people from one source, the data could seem like more of a happenstance rather than quality data on the product or service you are discussing in your infographic.

Use a Variety of Colors

When creating an infographic, you can help create a separation of information, data, and ideas by using different colors throughout the piece. Try to use colors that are distinguishable from others so that the eye can easily separate them when processing the information. If you have information that you will want to link in readers’ minds, you can use colors from the same part of the color spectrum so that the eye visually links them, such as grouping blues and greens together or reds and oranges.

Tie In Information With Connecting Lines

While these lines can be physical or visual, having the text line up with the graphic it is discussing is essential for the reader to connect the information quickly. If the graphic cannot be directly linked to text visually using a straight line, don’t be afraid to add a connecting line that will indicate which portion the text is referring to. This connection can be especially important when using a pie-type graphic with large amounts of data associated with each section.

Eye-Catching Visuals

One of the most important parts to focus on when creating your food infographic is the visuals that you will be using. While the infographic is created to make data and information more easily digestible, the visual is what will help tell readers the story and hold their attentions. These visuals can include photographs, pictures, charts, or graphs. Making sure they are eye-catching, informative, enticing, and properly placed is essential.

How Do You Use Your Visuals Effectively for a Food Infographic?

A reader’s brain will be able to process visuals significantly more than it will be able to process text, and for readers for whom English is not their primary language, visuals may help them to easily understand what they are reading. Therefore, you will want to make your infographic as visually attractive as possible.

One of the most important factors to focus on is making sure that the text by the graphic closely ties into the visual element it is representing. You want to avoid general pictures around text that reports specific data. This separation can limit the correlation in the viewer’s mind that could cause the infographic to become confusing.

Use the Right Type of Visual

When using photographs for a food infographic, the images should present the items in a way that you are describing. If you are discussing food in relation to how good it tastes, choose photos that show the food in an appetizing way. If the text talks about how unhealthy food is, do not use a photo that would entice the reader to want to consume it. You do not want to pair an appealing image with a disparaging source of data.

For food infographics that are functioning as a how-to element, such as how to properly cut sushi, it is important that all of the visuals provide a clear illustration so that a reader can easily identify all of the elements and directions. If the instructions are hard to confirm with visuals, they may lose the effect on the process you are explaining.

Make Sure the Content Flows Well

If you have many data points to cover on your food infographic, it is best to apply bullets to information to make the data as easy to scan as possible. Make sure the text does not use any filler words or unnecessary descriptors and stays to the point. When it seems appropriate to emphasize a statistic or piece of information, you can use a larger font to draw readers’ attentions without distracting them from the rest of the information you’re presenting in the infographic. For infographics that have defined sections, you can also use headers to increase visual scanning of the material.

When creating food infographics that are using sections, such as nutritional content for food, a percentage of vegetables to eat, or servings of carbs, make sure the sections are broken up into easy-to-distinguish sections. You want readers to be able to see the differences in amounts through varying sizes of sections such as pie pieces or pyramid levels. 

Creating visuals for food-related topics can present challenges due to readers’ reliance on other senses when it comes to processing food-related information. Understanding the intricacies that can come with creating food infographics and knowing what makes a food infographic appealing to readers can help you overcome these difficulties. In the end, you want to present your readers with compelling visuals that will aid them in processing information and engaging with your content.