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May 2, 2018 (Updated: August 3, 2021)
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Creating infographics requires considerable thought. You need the right data, design elements, connective tissue, text, and layout. Otherwise, people won’t share your infographic with their friends and colleagues.
Nearly 75 percent of marketers use some form of visual imagery in their marketing, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2016 report. Visual imagery can include static images, custom graphics, icons, video, and more, but infographics get shared up to three times more than other types of content, according to HubSpot.
If you’re read to take advantage of graphics, follow these 11 essential steps for creating your own infographics.
Image via Flickr by UnitedSoybeanBoard
Marketers and business owners often think that infographics have to be large and packed with information. They don’t. In fact, smaller, concise infographics often perform better on mobile devices because users don’t have to “pinch” the screen to see smaller details.
You want your infographic to fit the data you’ve collected, but you don’t want to share too much. Whittle down the data to the most important points. What numbers prove most illuminating? What data sets tell the most compelling story?
Once you’ve selected your data points, create a convincing narrative. Your infographic should leave your viewers with valuable takeaways. That’s a great way to convince them to share the image with their own audiences.
The best infographics look visually cohesive. If you use too many colors, you might overwhelm your viewers and turn them off. Consider sticking to three primary colors and various shades of each.
The right color combination will influence the infographic’s tone and mood. Somber, neutral colors will have a sobering effect, for instance, while bright colors suggest joy and excitement.
You can use a color schemes generator if you’re not sure where to start. These tools allow you to select colors and record the hex codes for future use on your infographic.
You have many options when it comes to creating infographics imagery. For instance, you could use photography or photo-realistic images, or you could go with illustrated graphics. Either way, all of the visual imagery should fit together in the image.
There are infographic makers, vector templates, and other assets available — either for free or at a cost. Alternatively, you can outsource the project to an agency that has professional designers and copywriters on staff.
If you don’t have a design background, selecting and implementing infographic imagery can prove daunting. A single discordant element can take the viewer out of the image and distract him or her from the information you’re providing.
Just like colors, fonts must be used with care. If you exercise too much creativity with fonts, your infographics might appear amateurish — or worse, unreadable. For example, a display font used at too small a size won’t be scannable at all.
Stick with three or fewer fonts when creating infographics. Choose a display or bold font for headings and subheadings, then use readable fonts for text throughout the infographic. That way, viewers can focus on the data and its presentation rather than trying to decipher the hard-to-read text.
Unless you’ve collected your own data, source your information from recent, reputable publications. You don’t want to cite a 2013 study when you’re creating infographics in 2018. Such a misstep will shred your credibility and make your infographic less usable for other sites.
Double- and triple-check your data. Several publications might not have come up with the exact same numbers, but if their survey or study results are widely different, you might have stumbled across faulty data.
For instance, let’s say that you’re creating an infographic on the best marketing practices for B2B companies. One source suggests that LinkedIn offers 200 percent better lead-generation than other social media sites, while another source reports that LinkedIn outperforms other social channels by only 40 percent.
Those are radically different numbers, so consider digging deeper to find more reliable data for your infographic.
A professionally designed infographic might look effortless upon completion, but the designer spent hours making sure the text and imagery looked visually appealing and logically cohesive. Creating infographics takes far more skill and effort than many people realize.
If you’re not a professional, you’ll likely start with a template. You can use a tool like Canva to start with a nice design, then populate it with your own graphics and information. Professionals, on the other hand, begin their infographic projects with wireframes. A wireframe helps designers line up elements in Photoshop, Illustrator, and other design tools.
Several elements are used to create the most effective infographics.
Create a punchy, shareworthy title or headline that encourages viewers to continue down the image. You can choose from several types of titles that work well for encouraging social shares:
Let’s say that you’re creating the infographic mentioned above about B2B social media marketing. Using the above title type ideas, your own headline might look like one of these:
After your title, make your primary data point and its accompanying visual as prominent on the image as possible. It should naturally draw the viewer’s eye because of its size as well as other distinguishing visual characteristics, such as bold text, high contrast, or a different — but coordinating — color.
View other infographics to get an idea of how designers accomplish this. You’ll notice that, in most images, one visual image dominates the others. Designers want to cement the narrative in that one image and use data points to drive the story home for viewers.
Populate the rest of the infographic with supporting data and visual elements. They should not be as large or prominent as your main element, but don’t make them so small that they seem irrelevant.
Remember that the entire infographic should tell a story. If a data point doesn’t fit your narrative, leave it out. You can always incorporate it into a future infographic where it fits with the rest of the story.
Just as in text-based content, subheadings help draw the eye. Depending on your infographic’s size, you might use just one or two subheadings or you might incorporate several. Let the data and story guide you to make an informed decision.
Subheadings should appear smaller than the main title or subheading. You can use a different font, as well, to distinguish them from the title and the body text.
Designers use negative space — also called white space — in their designs to give the viewer room to “breathe.” Think about the last time you saw a solid block of text in a document or on a web page. Did you feel exhausted just looking at it?
When you cluster images and text too close together, the viewer can’t distinguish one element from the next. It all bleeds together into one incoherent visual. You can avoid this by leaving some room between elements. If possible, use a standard amount of negative space so the grid from the wireframe or template remains intact.
When other people share your infographic, you hope they will link back to your site. Unfortunately, some people neglect this step. By adding branding to your infographic, you increase the chances of people recognizing your brand and visiting your site on their own.
In most cases, infographics feature three main brand elements:
Simply type the URL into the infographic. Make sure your logo and tagline are rendered in similar colors to the rest of the image. That’s why many marketers use brand colors when creating their infographics.
When creating infographics, branding elements usually go at the bottom of the graphic. Next to that list all the sources you used to create the image. Simply copy and paste the URLs from the sites you used. A list format works perfectly well for this purpose.
If you used a template, it likely came with charts, graphics, or other visualization elements that you need to customize. For instance, a pie chart that shows percentages of a whole needs to reflect in imagery the numbers you’ve cited.
Additionally, remember to double-check your numbers. When you’re working with templates, it’s easy to overlook a number or data point you forgot to change while populating the image with your own information. This can harm your credibility and authority, so don’t let it happen to you.
An infographic should look like one image with lots of parts. Additionally, you need a way to guide the viewer from one data point to another. This is how your story comes together.
Leading lines are a popular photography technique. The photographer will use a road, train tracks, the horizon, building edges, and other elements of the scene to visually guide the viewer to the primary subject.
This works just as well when creating infographics. Different types of lines — dotted, dashed, double, triple, and so on — work well for this. You can also use straight or curved arrows.
An infographic doesn’t need much text. You want your data points to speak for you. However, some text will give each data point context in the overall design and help the viewer understand your point of view.
Add text next to, and in between, visual elements. Make sure to give it plenty of negative space. Alternating colors between text blocks can also help the viewer understand that they’re separate from one another.
Choose a readable font for this body text. A sans-serif font might work better than a serif alternative since most people will view your infographic on a screen. Use a color that contrasts with the background to improve readability.
You’re nearing the end of the process. It’s time to view your infographic with a critical eye. Consider abandoning it for a day or two, then returning to it later. You’ll come back to the project with fresh eyes, which means you might catch errors or visual discordance that you might have missed otherwise.
Check your figures and text again to make sure they align with your source material. Make sure you’ve cited every source and incorporated your branding in an inconspicuous yet visually appealing way. If anything stands out, figure out a way to correct it.
After creating infographics you’ll want to share them with as many people as possible. Not only do you want to share it far and wide, but you want to enable other people to share it, too.
After you upload your infographic to your website or blog, use an embed code generator to enable embedding. When people view your infographic, they can simply copy the embed code, paste it on their own site or social media profile, and share it with their audiences.
You can also add a Pinterest button. With one click, viewers can add your infographic to their Pinterest boards. Sharing becomes far more likely when you make it easy and painless.
Finally, use your own embed code to share the infographic on social media and other channels. Use a unique call to action to encourage your audience to share the post with their own followers.
Creating infographics can help elevate your brand and boost your social shares. Plus, infographics help cement your authority in your industry.
Whether you create them on your own or hire a professional, you must to pay attention to text, images, numbers, visual cohesiveness, and dozens of other elements. If you don’t, people won’t share it. By following the tips above, you’ll have an infographic everyone wants to share.
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