If your marketing strategy could use a bit of a lift, or if you have an important concept to communicate, you might consider using infographics. While they are hardly new — they have been used as illustrations in books and magazines for over a century — they are being put to new and innovative uses. Putting together a great infographic isn’t something just anyone can do using Photoshop. Also, using a poorly-made or mediocre infographic is even worse than none at all. So where do you turn? An infographic design agency has the expertise to create polished infographics that get results.
Image via Flickr by Design Feast
Simply put, an infographic is a visual image that represents information. It can be a pie chart, a diagram, flowchart, map, or any combination of graphic elements that communicate data. Since most people find it easier to absorb information when it is presented visually, infographics are effective strategies to use in marketing campaigns or education.
It’s estimated that infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than plain text. High-quality infographics are visually engaging, using color effectively. They present information in a simple fashion, with neither too much nor too little data, and ideally include information that people find interesting.
Every day, we are deluged with data and content. We face the challenge of sifting through all of the information to find what’s useful and discard the rest. Infographics help with this process, giving us just what we need to know in a simple, stress-free, snack-size serving.
Also, some concepts are difficult to understand due to their complexity or abstract character. Infographics break it down into easily digestible bits. They can show, in an attractive, colorful format, how a complicated mechanical or electronic gadget works.
Infographics can be used to promote a cause by demonstrating in a visual manner exactly why the cause is important. They can pass along consumer information, such as nutrition and calorie content. Infographics are even being used as creative resumes for job seekers.
Depending on the information you wish to communicate, the audience you want to reach, and the result you’re trying to accomplish, you may find certain types of infographics more appropriate than others. Some factors to consider:
With these points in mind, consider the different types of infographics to choose from. This is just a sample of the most common ones; many infographics combine two types or more.
As you can see, designing a successful, polished infographic that gets the results you intend is not an easy job. Although there are several applications that can help you do it yourself with a minimum of graphic design experience, they have limitations. If you use a template, your infographic will not have that creative, one-of-a-kind look that professionals need.
When you begin your search for an infographic designer, it’s important to understand the difference between an infographic designer and a graphic designer. A good infographic designer understands the “info” part of “infographics,” and instead of just creating a piece that looks good, knows how to interpret the data visually.
Anytime you are hiring a creative professional, you need to check out their portfolio of previous work. Make sure the designer has infographics in their portfolio, not just terrific examples of their design skills. If you are working with an agency, you need to make sure their infographic samples were created within the last two months, and that the person who created them is still around to work on yours.
Finally, it’s usually acceptable to ask the designer to work on a small sample project or a small part of the infographic you have in mind before hiring them for a large project. Expect to pay them to do this, of course.
You have two basic options when it comes to hiring an infographic creator: an infographic design agency or a freelancer. A freelancer, of course, is someone who is self-employed, works independently on a contract basis, and may have many other clients besides you. An agency, on the other hand, has a team of employees who may bring different skills to the table. There are advantages and disadvantages of each.
The biggest reason many businesses select freelancers to do creative work is that they want to save money. Freelancers typically charge less for their services than an agency would charge. However, paying less doesn’t always mean getting great value for your money. An agency may be able to do the job more quickly, without endless rounds of revisions. It might also be able to provide advice on other aspects of your project as well.
Quality is another factor in your decision, but neither agencies nor freelancers have a distinct advantage in this regard. An agency might have more experience and more resources at its disposal to create a top-notch infographic. Freelancers, however, may be more eager to build their reputation by creating something spectacular. There are bad agencies and bad freelancers as well as stellar examples of both, which is why you need to study their portfolio.
Workload capability, or how much work can be handled at any given time, usually gives agencies the edge over freelancers. If you have a large business or require multiple infographics to be produced over a short period, a freelancer may not be able to provide the amount of work you need to get done. He or she is only one person, after all, and creativity takes time. An agency, however, can assign multiple employees to your account if needed. They can also subcontract to freelancers, in which case the agency is responsible for quality control, time management, and payment issues.
Agencies usually have more experience in creating infographics, which means they are a great choice for people who aren’t familiar with the process, aren’t sure what they want, and don’t know where to start. This applies to a large percentage of companies who need infographics. A good agency knows the steps to walk you through every step of the process.
An agency has copywriters on staff, too — or at least can subcontract to a good one, so you won’t have to look for one yourself. Even if you plan to write the text for the infographic yourself, a copywriter can help you polish it and make suggestions for improvement. At an agency, the copywriter and designer will work together; they are accustomed to doing so. Agencies also have copyeditors, because the only thing worse than a low-quality infographic design is one that’s riddled with typos.
Finally, consider that infographic creation is only one part of your larger marketing plan, and many agencies can provide many additional services. Choosing an agency with multiple capabilities is a smart choice even if you only need infographics. They can handle the print production of your infographic, help you promote it on social media, and even track its success as a marketing tool by measuring traffic, conversion, and other metrics.
Before your agency or freelancer designs your infographic, it needs a creative brief. This is another area where an agency can help you out — if you don’t know how to write a creative brief, they can help you produce one. Often an agency will have a template you can use instead of starting from scratch with a blank piece of paper or Word document.
Even if you think your infographic will be simple to produce, you still need a written creative brief. Your infographic will pass through many hands along the way: project manager, designer, copywriter, and so on. Taking the time to write a creative brief helps you distill your own ideas to make sure you’re on the right track.
It’s even possible you will discover you don’t need an infographic in the first place, but another format entirely. Your goals might be achieved more efficiently by designing an e-book, an interactive presentation, a video, a diagram, a poster, or a photograph.
A good creative brief should have the following parts:
Infographics can be incredibly effective at communicating information to your audience. They can distill and clarify complicated concepts, improve retention of information, and build brand recognition, just to name a few benefits. However, infographic creation is an art, and it’s worthwhile to invest in hiring a professional with experience like an infographic design agency. Agencies are your best bet because they have access to all of the resources necessary to create a top-quality infographic, and can help you achieve your other marketing goals as well.