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Interactive infographics can seem intimidating at first, especially to those who have only worked with the static kind. If you’re new to the world of interactive media, we’ll walk you through the process from ideation to promotion and everything in between.
Many of these steps will look familiar to those who have already created the static kind of infographic, which is a good sign. This means you’re already halfway to becoming an interactive expert.
Image via Flickr by DeaPeaJay
The key to any successful infographic is a strong concept. To zoom in on a concept, start by summing up your objective in one sentence. This will help you stay on track as the creative juices are flowing, and it will also keep your developers focused on one common goal. Here’s the formula that we like to use:
With this sentence, the copywriter knows what calls to action to use, the research team knows what data to pull, and the design team knows what kind of graphics to find. Think of that one sentence as a job description for each member of your team.
Data collection might be part of the copywriter’s research process, or it can be a separate job altogether. Regardless of the number of chefs in the kitchen, best practices include building a research bank with as much data as possible instead of tailoring your facts to the copy.
On our side, we create a data dump in an Google spreadsheet with multiple tabs breaking out categories and different concepts related to the vision. To continue with the home security client above, we would have tabs such as:
As you can see, just breaking the research out into subheads gets the ideation process going and forms an outline. If you need a jump on reliable sources for infographic data, try these resources.
With your research in hand, it’s time for the designers, writers, and even the clients to come together to figure out what they want. You probably won’t incorporate all of the research elements into the interactive infographics, so try to create two to three ideas around each subhead. Make sure each of them ties back to the vision.
For example, in a home security infographic, let the user “Be the Burglar.” Allow the user to click on different parts of the home, including the windows and back door, to see if the homeowner has utilized ways to stay safe. The message is that the best way to stay safe is by using a home security system.
Once the client approves the concept, it’s time for the copywriters to get to work. Most interactives actually follow the traditional format with an introduction, body, and conclusion. Most of the body incorporates the research uncovered earlier, along with added tone and personality.
As a copywriter, you must be able to hand off their content to the designer for incorporation into the project. To avoid getting too wordy, stick to a formula of a thought followed by two or three pieces of supporting data. The designer can then choose the appropriate datapoint to illustrate your thought.
Now that the designer has the idea and the copy behind it, it’s time to create a wireframe. For an interactive infographic, the wireframe should have a basic homepage with notes of what’s clickable and where the links go. Each additional page should also illustrate where the user can click with a title related to the page content.
When you show clients a wireframe, they should get a feel for what concepts and subheads the interactive will cover, as well as what the general tone will be. They don’t need to understand each exact copy point, though. The devil is in the details, and if clients get upset over a particular statistic, they may not pay attention to your overall design. Try to keep the wireframe high-level so it doesn’t require a redo after the first draft.
There are two schools of thought for interactive infographics. Either the development follows design, or the two work together. Which school you follow depends on the type of interactive that you’re creating, since one method might work better than the other.
We prefer the latter method to increase flexibility. We assemble a few of the design pieces and turn them over to the developer so he or she can give feedback to the designer regarding changes for better development. For example, if the buttons must be larger to encourage clicks, it’s a lot easier to change a few pages of buttons instead of redoing the whole design at the end of the process.
The key to a smooth creation process is continual client approval. If the client signs off on the concept, the idea, the subheads, and the wireframe, then you shouldn’t encounter any surprises after submitting the first draft. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, since a client might take one look at it and send you right back to step three.
Dear clients, please let us know that you’re not happy in the early phases so we can make adjustments before we spend hours of work on your project. A successful client and creator relationship depends on strong communication, so please be specific. There’s a big difference between helpful and non-helpful feedback:
Once the designer has completed the necessary edits, the developer tests the links to make sure the interactive works well and that the email collection or call to action goes in the right place. Finally, the interactive infographic is in the hands of the client.
If the creation of an interactive seems like a long process, it’s actually only step one for your company’s lead generation. To create serious buzz, invest in social promotion and outreach. You have a wonderful new creative piece to draw people in, but you have to get it in front of their faces first.