Visuals are amazing tools for presenting data. That’s because people remember more of what they see than what they read. This is one reason infographics are popular for presenting a lot of information in a condensed, visually appealing format.
If you want to use infographics to complement your blogs, articles, videos, white papers, and other digital content, read this in-depth article to discover strategies for choosing topics, curating information, and executing a flawless design.
What You Need to Create an Infographic
You can create a basic infographic using free tools that are available online. To create your image files, you will need page layout and image editing software. Tools such as Canva or Lucidpress are available on a “freemium” basis. InDesign and Sketch are more commonly used by professional designers.
You’ll also need content to work from. Generally, you will start by writing out the content for the infographic before arranging it into a visual layout. When you write your content beforehand, you’ll more easily understand the scope of information you need to present in the visual layout. This helps with spacing, placement, and visual hierarchy, among other design elements.
Finally, it helps if you have tracking software in place so you can see how well your infographic performs. Does the infographic get a lot of clicks and shares? Your metrics will tell you whether you’ve chosen a good topic and covered it well.
Start With the Right Topic
You’ll need to find good topics for your infographics as a starting point. As the controlling idea for your infographic, the topic will affect the outcome in every way. So, what makes for a good topics for infographics? It should be:
- Relevant to most users. It helps if you choose a topic that will solve readers’ biggest problems or satisfy a common curiosity. When you’re evaluating a topic, ask yourself what readers will get out of reading the infographic in its entirety.
- Focused. A good infographic presents the right data at the right time. It is focused in the sense that all information is linked together in a narrative. The infographic has a clear goal and presents only the information needed to satisfy that goal. It’s not a place to present general information about your industry; it’s the place to focus on a question and answer it well.
- Detailed. The right infographic topic is one in which you have enough space to be detailed. This, again, deals with scope. Choose a topic you can cover adequately within a page or two, keeping in mind that much of the page will be taken up by graphics.
- Informative. A good infographic is there to inform users about a relevant topic. It’s not the place to include heavy sales copy or general information about a company.
Finding Good Topics for Infographics
When brainstorming good topics for your infographics, you can approach it from many potential angles. The following are starting points for successful ideation.
- Write the infographic you would want to read yourself. If you were in one of your customer’s shoes, what questions would you ask before making a buying decision? Even if content on the topic already exists, you can still make it more valuable by putting it in infographic form.
- Listen to readers’ questions and comments. If you see the same question or comment coming up frequently among your readers, perhaps it’s time to address it. With an infographic, you can easily present the facts or address multiple viewpoints on a topic.
- Find a story your readers aren’t likely to know. An infographic provides a great avenue for telling concise stories. The visual format lends itself to integrating facts, images, and narrative elements into an engaging story that tells readers something about the history or future of your industry.
- Use an infographic to tackle misinformation. Is there information circulating in your industry that’s simply not true? An infographic can be an engaging place to challenge what people think they already know.
- Dissect a trend. What is your industry buzzing about? You could create a quick infographic that gets your readers up-to-date on something new in your field.
- Do a deep dive. This could be a good place to take a closer look at a case study, unique problem or outcome, or any other extraordinary situation in your industry.
- Think across industries. What is something that applies to your industry that would also be fascinating to readers who work in different industries? Many good topics for infographics come from taking a broader, multidisciplinary approach to your field.
As you come up with potential topics from each of these starting points, think about whether you have enough information on each topic to make it feasible. Can you present this topic easily in the space of a single infographic? It helps to sketch out your ideas to get a sense of what your infographic might look like.
Go on a Fact-Finding Mission
The topic for your next infographic might already be lurking in one of your co-worker’s minds. If you’re still looking for an infographic topic after going through the brainstorming process listed above, it’s time to start digging around the office for good ideas.
Ask co-workers what they wish customers knew. What do customers misunderstand about the business? What do employees have to keep explaining to potential buyers? You can create an infographic to explain a process or help customers compare several product or service options.
Ask your sales reps if there is information they think is missing from your sales material. An infographic could fill in some of the gaps. For example, you can design an infographic to educate customers about a superior material or part your company uses. Include lots of statistics to inform readers why that product is better than others.
Talk to researchers or analysts to see if they’ve come up with any fascinating new data lately. If it’s something you think customers would be interested in, you have a topic for an infographic.
What are some topics your co-workers are discussing with their friends or family? Those are probably the most interesting or widely appealing parts of your industry. They are likely topics that deserve to be presented in an infographic.
Topics to Avoid for Infographics
If you’re going to invest the time and energy into creating an infographic, there are a few topics to avoid. Usually, a bad topic is one that won’t be very interesting to readers. Bad topics are also ones you’d have to “stretch” or manipulate in some way. These include:
- Topics that are too technical or dry. Get honest feedback from a colleague to see if he or she would want to read an infographic on your topic. Some companies trend toward topics that are very data-heavy, but you must ask yourself if that data is actually interesting to your target readers.
- Topics that are too expository. Some topics are more appropriate for long-form content. Don’t try to cram lengthy instructions or explanations onto your infographic. If you can’t break your text easily into fragments that are a sentence or less, an infographic is probably the wrong format for your topic.
- Topics with too little supporting information. Make sure you have enough data or information available to cover your topic in a satisfying way. There’s nothing worse than clicking on an infographic with a compelling title, only to find that the content doesn’t answer the initial question.
- Topics that are key to your sales process. Usually, an infographic is not the place to present critical information, unless that information is backed up elsewhere. Infographics should be skimmable. They are best reserved for topics that enhance your marketing, rather than being a place to cover information you rely on. For that information, choose long-form content.
Creating a Strong Infographic
You might think you have a great topic idea but then discover it doesn’t really work well on the page. That is why it helps to have the design and organization principles for a strong infographic already in mind. Some things that make a great infographic include (but are not limited to):
- Title. Even the best infographics have a lukewarm reception when titled incorrectly. A catchy title gives the reader a burning desire to open the infographic.
- Colors and Fonts. A strong choice of colors and fonts makes the infographic easy to read, consistent, and visually pleasing.
- Layout. The right layout helps your readers understand the narrative. Things like timelines and text blocks are essential tools for presenting information effectively.
- Data Presentation. Infographics can sometimes have lots of numbers, which makes data presentation important. You need to consider whether readers have enough context to understand statistical information. Choosing the right format for data (and eliminating unnecessary data) will help you avoid overloading your readers with more information than they can process at once.
- Text/Narrative. Text must be balanced in an infographic. The final product should have enough text to support its value proposition, but not so much that it clutters the overall design.
- Graphics. These make infographics more fun to read. Ideally, graphics should be used to support the data or story being presented in the infographic.
Let’s Look at a Good Infographic Example
Image via CopyPress
This infographic does a lot of things right. First of all, it incorporates a wealth of information into a small area effectively. It does this by having strong organization, including a good balance of text and images and leading the eye through the infographic with the use of bold colors. The infographic also has a good visual hierarchy of information; key facts stand out from the text, either through the use of distinct colors, larger fonts, or standalone text boxes. The bike lanes and blue lines are creative ways to guide the reader through the text. Overall, this infographic does a good job presenting information in a visually appealing way.
What Makes a Bad Infographic?
Bad infographics tend to make some of these fatal errors:
- Hard to read. The whole point of an infographic is to make information easier or more enjoyable to read. Infographics become hard to read when they are cluttered, when they have a poor font or color choice, or when they don’t provide statistics and other information consistently.
- Hard to understand. It’s desirable to take shortcuts with the number of words you put in an infographic. However, when you simplify the text too much, no one but you will understand what your statistics mean. Have an outsider read your infographic and verify that they understand each statistic or fact’s meaning and relevance.
- Poorly presented data. Another thing to think about is how data should be presented. Does a chart make more sense, or should you use a graphic? Which type of chart should you use? When you present your data in the wrong format, it’s a missed opportunity, and it can cause your infographic to lose credibility.
- Misleading. Infographics can fail when they cause the user to misinterpret data. For example, if you use inconsistent sizing to represent data visually, the reader might believe a statistic is much larger (or smaller) than it really is. Say you have five items, and your infographic represents each with a colored dot. If one dot is four times larger than the one next to it, it should represent a number that is four times larger than the number next to it. Visual comparisons should be easy to understand without the reader also having to process the numbers they represent.
- Too little (or too much) information included. When there is too little information to support your topic, readers might question the validity of your conclusions. When you include too much data, readers might not take away the key parts of your presentation.
Putting together a good infographic is more labor-intensive than writing an article, but it can be much more effective when done well. Start by finding good topics for infographics and gathering your resources. Then, find a good content creator to help you arrange, condense, and prioritize your information.