May 23, 2018 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
In this article…
Technical infographics range from simple to complex and are invaluable for presenting complicated concepts and processes in a visual way that’s easy to digest. Infographics are used to illustrate statistics, show a timeline, present charts in an appealing manner, or illustrate a process.
Infographics about technical topics appeal to a wide variety of people, including different age groups from young children to adult professionals. They can bring non-technical kinds of people up to speed on interesting and useful information or developments. They can also encourage young people to pursue STEM careers, which may be the best use of all.
Charts have always been direct, visual ways to display data. For this reason, chart-centered infographics are popular and effective. However, there’s more to it than just plopping a chart onto a page. Readers of infographics appreciate the lack of “filler” that charts can deliver, but also expect them to be attractive and relevant to the theme. For example, if you use a bar chart to illustrate popular candy, you could make the bars into actual candy bars.
Choosing the right type of chart to illustrate your information is vital. Some tips include:
When you need to contrast or compare different types of information or items, comparison infographics are one of the handiest technical infographics. With this type of infographic, you can help readers choose between options, show various pros and cons, and illustrate differences and similarities. It’s a great way to discuss two sides of an argument in a logical manner.
Comparison infographics need to have a central thesis or a point you intend to make. They also need a way of dividing the two (or more) sides you are comparing. To avoid clutter, try to only include the most important and convincing points. Here are some tips:
Illustrating technical information sometimes requires the use of a map. The result: a geographic infographic. You can use the map either as the central feature of your infographic or as a supporting addition. Maps show location-based information. Some examples include weather statistics, the location of earthquakes, health information such as disease outbreaks or vaccination percentages, and more. Tips for doing this effectively include:
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If your project involves information that is organized into different levels, a hierarchical information infographic might work best for you. As well as showing different levels of information, it also demonstrates how the levels are connected to one another. Pyramid charts and flow charts are examples of this type of technical infographic. One of the most well-known examples of this type of chart is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Company organizational structures are also a good fit for this type of illustration. Tips:
While every infographic is intended to provide information, an informational infographic communicates text-based information in a visually engaging way. This structure lends itself to many different purposes: brochures, reference guides, informational posters, lists, and even resumes.
Although the information presented could also be communicated in text form, such as in an article or on white paper, not everyone wants or needs such detail. Many readers will appreciate a quick summary covering key points with a graphic design that makes it easy to follow. Tips:
A process infographic is used to break down a process into easy-to-follow steps for the reader. They show a series of tasks or actions in chronological order. If you want to teach your reader how to accomplish a goal, this is the illustration to use.
There are many purposes for a process infographic. You can use one to explain a marketing strategy from start to finish or for the hiring and onboarding of a new employee. These infographics are also useful for showing a customer how to install an electronic device such as a cable box or Ethernet router, or how to put together a piece of furniture. You can also use them for recipes. Tips:
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Infographics focused on statistics are among the most popular types of technical infographics. You can use statistics to back up your opinion or argument. However, it’s often difficult to visualize statistics in real-world terms, especially when they involve very large or very small numbers. In order to grab people’s attention, presenting these statistics in a visually engaging manner is vital.
Statistical infographics don’t just present data; they use it to tell a story. Useful methods to do this include charts, graphs, or attention-grabbing numbers. Some tips for doing this:
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Commonly used to share the history of a company, development of an item, or another process that requires demonstrating the passage of time, timeline infographics are popular. You’ve seen them in school history textbooks to help students understand historical events as they relate to other events in the same period. Timeline infographics tell a story.
The first step in designing a timeline infographic is to create a plan. Consider who will be using it and how it will be distributed. Next, decide what period of time it will cover. Depending on the topic, if there are too many points to include in too long of a time period, you may choose to split it up into multiple infographics instead of cramming it all into one that’s hard to read and follow. Also, knowing how many points you will be including and how much text you will include with them aids in creating the graphic layout of the piece.
Decide how graphics-heavy you want the infographic to be. It may include illustrations or simple icons to illustrate your story. Your layout not only depends on the infographic’s complexity, but it also depends on how you intend to publish it. Horizontal layouts work better for printed pieces, while vertical layouts are recommended for mobile and desktop use. Here are some more tips:
Once you’ve decided what information you would like to include and have chosen the best type of infographic in which to present it, your next concern is figuring out just how to get it from your pen-and-paper or white-board sketch and onto a computer screen, ready to print or publish. Fortunately, there are many options.
The simplest option is to use an application such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Photoshop. This is fine if you want something basic for internal use, but these rarely have the professional look many people are hoping for. Unless you are a professional graphic designer, there are more efficient ways to go about it.
Infographic templates are available from many sources, either for free or for a small fee. These pre-designed fill-in-the-blank templates work with common applications such as PowerPoint, Illustrator, and other software used for design. Along with these templates, you can download vector illustrations for design elements such as icons, charts, and backgrounds to place in your infographic.
Online services such as Piktochart, Canva, Venngage, and many others allow you to use their templates and graphic components to build and customize your infographic the way you like. These services are generally free up to a certain point but offer premium graphics or premium templates for a fee. Some offer monthly subscriptions which include extra tools to give your infographics an extra polish.
However useful as these tools may be, there’s no comparison to hiring a professional infographic designer to do the job. Professionals with experience in producing technical infographics can advise you every step of the way, from which layout is best to what colors to use and even how much content should be included. Furthermore, since your time is valuable too, hiring a pro can chop hours, days, or even weeks off the design and production process.
There’s no doubt that infographics are exploding in popularity. They are attractive and engaging when properly designed, and can communicate a wealth of information quickly and efficiently. This is especially important for technical topics, whether you are explaining statistics, providing instructions for using or creating something, or offering consumer information. Technical information can be daunting to many readers, but infographics are a superior way to bridge the divide between industry professionals and the average end-user.
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