Creating Infographics with Illustrator – How to Create Viral Infographics

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May 7, 2018 (Updated: March 24, 2020)

In this article…


Infographics are an effective tool business owners and marketers use to engage readers. Condensed with information, an infographic summarizes important facts and converts them into an easily digestible form. Creating infographics with Illustrator can take the work out of reading social media posts and are a popular way to get complex messages across a large audience.

Understanding a few details about learning and human psychology is helpful when creating viral social media posts. The human mind is made to interpret data visually. Even the words we read are transmitted to the brain as pictures. Eliminating half of the data interpretation work by presenting it in picture form is a powerful way to stand out to readers.

Infographics are useful teaching tools. After three days, people are 300 percent more likely to remember information they learned from an infographic with auditory backup than information they heard on the radio.

Short posts make big impacts and are considered safe SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics. Infographics are 300 percent more likely to be shared virally on social media than text posts. Search engine spiders categorize them as high value web page displays, which leads to higher SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) rankings.

How is Infographic Design Done?

Infographics are best designed using Adobe Illustrator. It’s a useful program for professional artists and designers. Vector images imported to Illustrator can be blown up without degrading the quality of the image.

Illustrator is a vector design program. Infographics are made with vector images imported to or created within the program. Designers have the tools to make 3-D graphics in Illustrator, which makes a big impact on viewers.

Photoshop can be used to make infographics, but it works best for photo editing. Blown up vector images look pixilated and low-quality, yet photos maintain their integrity. Professional infographics should made with higher quality.  Photoshop isn’t the best program for infographics, but it works in a pinch.

InDesign is another program designers use to create multi-page documents complete with vector images, photos, and text. This program is designed for magazine publishers and other creatives, which explains the high cost. InDesign requires hours of study and practice to master at a professional level. Illustrator is far easier to use and is more cost-effective for most business owners.

What Does It Take?

It takes time and determination to learn how to make professional infographics. Aspiring designers can start by learning about why infographics are used by business owners and which features prime them to go viral on social media.

Learning the elements of design and marketing tactics for each social media platform can provide helpful insights when creating infographics with Illustrator. Discover as much as possible about the target demographic group and how to connect with them.

What Resources Do You Need? 

According to Adobe’s website, Illustrator users must have computers with sufficiently powerful processors and at least 2 GB of hard disc space to install and run the program. Most new laptops and PC’s are powerful enough to run Illustrator. If in doubt, you can visit the Adobe website to test the system before downloading the program.

Do You Need to Take Any Classes?

Illustrator is a complex program with many features. Classes are beneficial when learning to use the program for the first time. Amateur users might become frustrated until they understand the basics of creating infographics with Illustrator.

Unless you have experience with photo editing programs, learning alone might seem impossible. There are many design tutorials for Illustrator on YouTube, though many of them are “ride-along” videos where viewers watch someone silently create graphics. The video producer rarely explains why each icon is used, which is next to useless to a beginner.

Certainly, it’s not impossible to teach yourself how to use Illustrator, but it’s difficult. A class could help end the frustration and speed up the learning process.

Design Tips for Beginner Infographics Designers

Elements of design and marketing tactics are important skills to have when designing infographics. It’s advantageous to understand which color combinations result in the highest click-through rates, how to write catchy headlines, and how to condense information while enticing the audience to keep reading. Guides on how to do all that and more can be found on the Copypress Blog.

Color Theory

The science behind how infographics are shared socially is still in its infancy. However, new facts are emerging. Blue is, by far, the most popular color used on viral posts. The most successful pieces implement three to four colors into each piece, including black used for text.

Monochromatic color schemes are far less effective at attracting eyes than a blue, red, green, and black combination. Steer clear of dull colors like gray or color schemes that seem childish, like purple or pink.

Text Length

In a study of 5,000 infographics, length was found to be one of the most important factors in readability, attractiveness, and virality on social media. Posts containing more than 300 words go viral at the lowest rate, as do posts of 200 words or fewer.

The most successful viral infographics contain 230 words. Five words more or less resulted in dramatically lower numbers of shares. Try to keep word counts at 230 with a two word margin of error.

How to Easily Create an Infographic

Exploring Illustrator’s menus and reviewing the tour and FAQ section is helpful for beginners. It’s necessary to understand the program’s basic functions, such as creating simple infographics from templates.

Program beginners should start by relying on pre-made templates. Although an adept eye can easily spot templates, they’re perfectly acceptable to use when creating infographics with Illustrator.

They are customizable by color, size, gradient, and text content. Simply download, enter the facts and figures that will be graphed, and get instant results. Multiple websites offer free templates, including Adobe.

Infographic templates are much easier to use than learning how to create custom graphs in Illustrator at a professional level. Just fill in the blanks provided and let the software do the rest.

Types of Infographics

An infographic you can make in illustrator

Image via Flickr by skullface

The most popularly shared infographics feature informational data and are personally relevant. Make your piece about a topic that is relevant to your followers’ daily lives. Tying a gentle marketing message into your infographics is a great way to boost sales.

Likewise, a balance of shocking statistics and text that presses on emotional touch points is a strongly persuasive tactic for inciting action.

The most shared types of infographics contain:

  • Comparisons between two things
  • Chronological timelines of events
  • Lists that prove or disprove a point
  • Flowcharts that explain cause and effect
  • A visual article or short story
  • Data visualizations through various types of graphs or numbers
  • How-to tutorials
  • Photographs with data
  • Maps providing location data
  • Anatomical representations of human bodies with reference information
  • Single and mixed charts

Adobe offers thousands of pre-made templates that can quickly and efficiently help business owners make their point. For an average business, a template is enough to get the message across.

Creating Original Infographics in Illustrator

If a template sounds too easy or generic, try to create an original piece with Illustrator. You can begin by setting up a new document. Try to have a loose plan in place that addresses the type of infographic that will be created. Choose the geometric shapes that fit best with the data and message. Determine the colors you will use and sketch the desired look for use as a reference later on.

Page Orientation is all About Mobile Users

Open a new document and customize the pixel count so the image will have a portrait orientation. The numbers are listed as width x height. Posts with portrait orientation are three times more likely to be shared.

Break Down Pages Into Even, Manageable Slices 

Proportion and placement are absolutely vital to creating an appealing infographic. Designers know how to break a page down into equal sections and use asymmetry and symmetry to create visual movement.

Put thought into those concepts when deciding where vector images and graphs should be placed. Would an S design featuring a number of points create visual interest, or would a circle graph better represent the point? Take the time to make a plan.

Deciding where to place elements on a page is easier with experimentation. Go into a new Illustrator document. Divide the page into equal parts by using the ruler function and guides to mark the center point of the page. Divide the page in half with the guide tool again and break down both halves into a grid. This will make it easier for the brain to balance both sides with text and images while creating movement.

Locate and mark, using a tiny dot, the location of the graphs or images meant to be used. You can also experiment with graphic placement to establish an appealing layout.

When points are organized into groups, it’s easier to decide what type of elements would best represent them and where to place them. Do not hesitate to implement a variety of elements, from charts to anatomical graphs to vector images or gifs.

Shapes, Images, or Graphs

Infographics that contain a mixture of photos, text, and graphics are the most popular. It’s easy to create small graphs and charts within Illustrator or drag and drop graphs saved as vector images from other programs.

To make a new graph or chart, simply click the graph icon on the lower-left hand sidebar menu. Select the type of graph you wish to use, populate the data into the popup spreadsheet, and click on the apply option. Now, position, label, and color the new infographic.

The infographic is taking shape, and it’s fun to see everything come together successfully. When inserting vector images or text boxes, pay attention to scale, symmetry, and asymmetry. Add gradients to the color scheme and try to add visual interest whenever it lends to the overall movement of the piece. Work with contrasting colors to make the graph appealing enough to hold the reader’s interest.

Consider the Audience 

To create a viral infographic, find illustrations that speak to the target demographic. For example, a library might use a comparison infographic to show a government board which services are most vital to their local community. The designer knows the audience needs to digest a lot of data in a short amount of time, so they want to keep things intriguing, quick, and professional.

To catch the eye of readers and remind them of who the library serves, the designer might add a vector image of a cartoon rental book in the upper left-hand corner along with data covering how many books are checked out weekly.

To offset the graphic, they could add a cartoon computer image on the right quadrant and accompany it with information regarding the number of people who worked on the computers and what they were used for during that time.

Oriented in the bottom center of the infographic, a group of small children are listening to a librarian read a book or pie chart that features the number of children who visit the library. To finish, the footnote text could highlight a statistic about how many people are served for every dollar in the budget.

As long as vector images and text are placed logically and with design best practices in mind, the final result should be a visually attractive, informative piece of content that is primed and ready to go viral. Share it far and wide for the best chance of gaining new traffic and exposure to your pages.

An infographic should project a professional, entertaining, and persuasive message. Create a piece that is a passionate and articulate projection of your message while actually meaning something to the reader.

Infographics grace social media user’s newsfeeds at the same rate as memes. They have the power to sway opinions, pull heartstrings, fund budgets, and change laws. Harness the power of smart data and creative design to generate buzz, do good, and boost your business’ bottom line.

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