You might say that we’re in the golden age of infographics. They’re everywhere, pulling the humdrum facts that make up our world and arranging them in ways that show connections in the data that we didn’t know were there. We share them like crazy, and that makes infographics a powerful online marketing tool if they’re designed properly.
And there’s the rub: so many infographics get it wrong. But if you know the underlying principles that help shape the truly good ones, you’ll have a better handle on infographics design and how to build a visual winner from the ground up.
A Unified Concept
You could have all the facts in the world about shoes. But without a unifying idea, what point are you trying to make with your infographic? Without some type of thesis to work toward, you’ll fail at the most basic point of the graphic: to show how the data is connected. Lack of a driving point also dooms your visual design from the start; I’ve seen too many infographics that are simply a collage of semi-related facts.
Where do you get that unifying idea? It’s hidden in the data. Anemic infographics are boring to read, and the readers know they’re thin on content. Fact-dense infographics intrigue people and get them to pass your infographic along. The most important thing you can do is identify the underlying questions that the facts inspire and visualize the not-so-obvious connections between disparate pieces of data.
Visual Simplicity and Readability
If you have to explain the visual elements of your graphic with a lot of text, maybe your design isn’t going to grab readers’ attention like it ought to. And the worst sin you can commit when doing online PR is to be boring. Someone should be able to capture the idea of the graphic within the first 5 seconds and still be diving into the details after 5 minutes.
It’s an infographic, not an “infotext.” I don’t care how perfect you think the font you chose is; any graphic should be primarily made up of visual elements. And a couple of pie-charts does not an infographic make. The visual design needs to create patterns that show the relationships and meaning inherent in the data you’re trying to represent. When you reveal connections between ideas that aren’t necessarily intuitive, that sparks people’s interest, and that gets your graphic shared.
Try not to make it too massive. Big isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but there’s definitely a point at which you’ve gone too far, especially if the reader has to scroll more than once or twice to read the whole thing.
Portability and Shareability
It’s a lot harder for your infographic to go viral if you don’t make it easy to share. Place it on your blog or website with prominently displayed embed code and share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. When people can post a link to your graphic in just a few seconds, it can make the difference between them sharing it or reading it and moving on.
Also, any piece of content needs to exist in a relevant space on the Web. If you don’t place your infographic in a place where it will get noticed by people who care about the content, then what’s the point?
Starting with these underlying concepts, it’s a lot easier to build a compelling infographic right from the start. Otherwise, your graphic might just wind up unnoticed and unshared, like so many of the bad graphics sitting on lonely blogs and sites all over the Internet.
About the Author
Aubrey Phelps grew up in a small town and always knew she wanted to achieve…something, and she has. She packed her bags for college but instead of a degree she earned a husband. Bringing four years of SEO experience and expertise, she is an superb account executive who blends her cocktail of knowledge and unparalleled people skills to take on the world. Contact her company via @prmarketingcom.
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