How to Create an Excellent Infographic

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” This saying should come as no surprise — study results have shown that our world is becoming increasingly more visually oriented. In fact, did you know that 90 percent of all content that’s transmitted to the brain is visual? Furthermore, humans process visual scenes about 60,000 times faster than they do text.

To capitalize on this (whether you’re a brand trying to sell a product or service or an influencer breaking down a topic of interest), you need something that’s striking, eye-catching, and condensed for quick and easy consumption. What you need is an infographic.

What is an infographic? What’s the purpose of creating one? Will the infographic become viral leading to brand exposure? An infographic is a way to provide useful information wrapped into a stylish and easy-to-read graphic. These types of graphics relay a visual message that’s easily digestible by their intended audience. For example, an infographic can break down key points using icons, graphs, or other visual representations.

Besides the perceptible appeal of infographics, another reason this form of media is so popular is because it can be easily emailed, shared via social media, and even embedded on a website. Proven to be successful forms of communication, infographics are very important to all digital marketing strategies.

Let’s dive into how to create your own excellent infographics.

Choosing the Right Words

Think of an infographic like an essay: Lead with the topic, then break it down section by section and point by point. Another approach to crafting content for an excellent infographic is to develop an outline with the following key areas: introduction, problem/issue, explanation highlighting key facts and figures, conclusion, and a call-to-action (CTA).

One of the best sources of inspiration is a blog post, which you can easily transform into an infographic. Once you’ve selected a blog post, simply skim and pull out relevant points that you can quickly form into short, bulleted statements. When pulling that content, make sure you can represent it visually. Blog posts usually are already divided into sections that make organizing an infographic that much easier.

Once you’ve selected the copy, think about the text and design flow. Using both keywords and symbols strategically throughout the infographic will help the consumer’s eyes travel naturally around and throughout the piece.

Tip: Remember, less text is more effective. While the infographic should contain some text, make sure to keep it to a minimum. For example, try turning a paragraph with statistics into a pie chart — not only will this be visually pleasing but it will also help the reader digest the information better.

Organization Is Key

Excellent infographic that is organized

Image via Flickr by Willy D

Now that you’ve nailed down the basic idea (both in text and flow) of the infographic, the next step is deciding how to present and organize the information you want to share.

While there are a variety of infographic types, below are some popular options that will display your topic in the best way possible.

Timelines

This format is one of the most popular for infographics and showcases your topic using a linear approach. You should use a timeline when:

  • Explaining a history.
  • Exploring an evolution.
  • Ordering a lot of information.

This format doesn’t have to be boring. Incorporating sleek graphics or symbols can help make an infographic dynamic and interesting. Akita provides an excellent example of a timeline infographic.

Alphabetical

Another common infographic trend is to present data alphabetically. Of course, this method is only useful for certain topics, such as adding structure to a general idea, catching and drawing the interest of your consumers, and putting a new twist on an old theme. For example, take a look at this ABC infographic by Natural On.

Compare and Contrast, Venn Diagram-Style

Does your infographic cover two opposing ideas or concepts? Create a comparative infographic, particularly if you need to analyze the following:

  • Pros and cons
  • Right vs. wrong
  • Similarities and differences

Visual.ly does a great job contrasting content in its infographic highlighting cola vs. water.

Data Representations

More often than not, infographics represent statistics, numbers, facts, and data. Presenting this type of information in graphical form (pie charts, bar charts, etc.) helps make the content more engaging and easier to understand. Another benefit to this type of infographic is that it breaks information down well and can be very persuasive.

These are just some of the trending infographic styles commonly seen in the digital world. Are you in need of some inspiration? Check out these templates to help get you started.

Design 101

Now comes the creative (and fun) part. It’s at this stage where you decide how the infographic will stand out from the pack. When thinking about design, it’s important to choose a style and tone you can carry throughout the entire piece. Not only should this style enhance and emphasize every point in your infographic but it should also be unique.

Tip: One of the best ways to make an infographic great is to choose a design and color scheme that will capture the attention of your audience. You want to make them stop, read your infographic, and then share it with their network.

Each layer of this infographic by VisionCritical features different colors and icons that help enhance the overall topic. The use of vibrant colors invites viewers to take a step back and read the infographic. By doing this, VisionCritical has taken a common topic and turned it into a unique visual piece.

Another way to present your data in an interesting way is to be creative in your approach. You don’t have to stick to traditional graphs and pie charts. Spice things up! If you’re talking about food or nutrition, why not use food items as visuals?

Tip: To create excellent infographics, don’t be afraid to get playful in your data and figures.

A Guide to Color Schemes

A common mistake when designing infographics is using too many colors. The key is to use shades of colors, which will add variation to the infographic and prevent it from becoming visually overpowering.

Before selecting your infographic colors, here are a few rules to keep in mind:

  • On average, use two colors. Don’t use more than four colors in one infographic. The infographic should be beautiful, not an eyesore.
  • Only choose one or two main colors. Any other color(s) should be complementary and subtle.
  • Instead of using more colors, use shades. This will add contrast, variation, and depth to the piece.
  • Don’t be afraid of white space. It will keep viewers’ eyes more relaxed than having no white at all.

Sounds easy enough, right? Now let’s focus on what color(s) to choose:

  • Incorporate company branding. The safest and best way to choose a color scheme is to stick to the colors in the company’s brand book. Choose one primary color, and the rest can complement it.
  • Use complementary colors. With a free and easy-to-use color generator such as Colormind, you can quickly find more than one color to match your primary one.
  • Select a color scheme that matches the logo color. This will also help strengthen the overall branding.
  • Let the topic or industry decide. What do we mean by this? If the topic is about a coffee, the earth, or a holiday, choose from preset color schemes that match it. For example, an infographic about coffee can have a brown-themed color scheme. Colormind is also a great resource with which to find color schemes.
  • Choose colors with contrast. In design, especially infographic design, contrast is an important element. Select colors that contrast well (such as orange and blue) to enhance the overall visual appeal. This will also draw your audience in, as the contrast will be obvious enough that it will stand out when they’re scrolling through a social media newsfeed.

Tip: The higher the contrast, the more readable and shareable your infographic will be.

Font Selection

Just like choosing the right color scheme, selecting fonts is subjective and requires time and testing to find the right ones to match your infographic’s tone and overall design. Here are a few guidelines for choosing the right fonts:

  • Match the font to the piece’s mood. Different fonts have moods or personalities associated with them. It’s important that your chosen font matches what you’re conveying in the infographic. For example, a big, rounded, bubbly font is a great choice for a child’s birthday invitation while cursive font would be appropriate for an upscale dinner invitation.
  • Establish hierarchy. Combine fonts in such a way that they visually differentiate between elements such as headlines, subheadings, and copy. This hierarchy will help the eye navigate around the infographic. Newspapers and magazines do a great job of implementing visual hierarchy on a page. When picking out fonts and deciding on visual hierarchy, think about the most essential information. What needs to stand out at first? What is less important? Once you’ve established this, it’ll be easier to choose a typeface, size, and arrangement.

Tip: The most important headline in an infographic tends to be the largest and weightiest.

The Use of Symbols

Symbols are other elements that help create excellent infographics. Symbols, when used sparingly and appropriately, will help to tell the story and reinforce the points you are trying to convey. For example, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol frequently used to represent either the United States or freedom.

Tip: Keep a healthy balance between text and symbols. The infographic will lose its efficacy and look like a foreign language if you use too many symbols.

Quality Check (QC) Multiple Times

Once you’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the t’s, it’s time to pass the infographic off to the editor. Having another person who hasn’t been involved in the infographic’s creation will help make sure it’s high-quality and error-free.

Have this person check for spelling and grammar mistakes; consistency among symbols, elements, and spacing; and, last but not least, visual appeal.

After the QC process is done (several rounds might be required), the infographic is ready to circulate on social media.

Infographic Do’s & Don’ts

Do create supporting content. If the infographic isn’t already based on a blog post, develop one around the topic to help make the piece more powerful. Video is another powerful tool that can be created around the infographic topic.

Don’t create an infographic to show a bunch of data and figures. Create one focused topic.

Do create a killer headline that will attract the user’s attention. Adding questions in the headline can help grab the reader’s attention.

Do cite your sources. If you’re referencing any articles or blog posts, make sure to list all resources at the bottom of the infographic. Using a smaller font is fine, as you don’t want the sources to be the main focus.

Do consider color theory. Just like fonts, colors have different meanings and connotations. For example, red is often associated with anger while green denotes relaxation.

Do create the infographic with one target audience in mind. In the creation stage, remember that this piece is only intended for one audience. Trying to create an infographic that appeases everyone might drive you crazy (and will only lengthen the infographic creation process).

Don’t forget to add a CTA. What’s the infographic’s purpose? If it’s to contact a business, make sure you present the right contact information at the bottom.

Do keep it simple. If you think the infographic has too much content, graphics, or symbols, then you’re probably right.

Final Thoughts

Fun, functional, informative, shareable — these are all characteristics of excellent infographics. These are also why infographics are one of the most popular and digestible forms of graphic media in today’s online world. We also know that infographics will only continue to increase in popularity as time moves forward.

Have you created an infographic? Did this post inspire you to design your first one? What techniques have you used? We’re eager to hear from you in the comments below.