Infographics: agencies love them, the internet houses them and the public shares them. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of the graphics is having a knock-on effect on their quality, with shoddy examples falling flat, receiving no coverage or social shares.
So what makes a good one? First and foremost, the client matters. Your content marketing should always marry up with your client’s expectations. Don’t design a controversial piece about the amount of pollution in the ocean if your client creates the very pollutants that are causing the issue.
If infographic is your first suggestion when it comes to content marketing, think again. They’re not the Swiss army knife of design that fits all corners. In truth, you might not benefit from an infographic as much as an interactive or video.
- Presents data in a digestible, beautiful manner
- Can be outreached to be featured on other websites
- Can be chopped and used as visual articles or used for raw data on more editorially-focused domains
- People only remember 20% of what they read, but a full 83% of learning occurs visually.
- Lengthy research process for effective ones
- Over-saturated market – there are many bad infographics out there
- Can’t be indexed by search engines, although the hosting page can.
Before design begins, an infographic must have solid supporting research. The best of this research is stat-based, with figures that can be visualised and easily digested. According to Microsoft, our attention spans have fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2015. In short, we don’t have the time to make sense of complex information online.
You should include relevant, useful and striking information in your content. Finding these figures can be a chore, but it’s an essential part of the process if you want your efforts to succeed. Your stats will need to be accurate too. Incorrect or misrepresented data essentially makes your piece worthless and creates a sense of mistrust from any potential viewer.
Build your own stats
One winning technique is to find data year on year and create percentages and averages, which you may have to do a little digging for. If done correctly, you’ll be pioneers of the original research and the first to ‘break the story’ in the form of an infographic.
Pulling out these facts, percentages and formulas is key to a successful infographic. Adding key illustrations and striking typography helps capture the audience’s eye, drawing their attention to the most interesting facts. As a designer, it’s your job to decide which stats are most important and design around them.
Here are some fairly simple but effective ways to visualise the data:
- Bar chart: Either horizontal or vertical, it’s easy to digest and easy to dress up visually.
- Timeline: Listing key events in chronological order helps illustrate time to the audience.
- Scatter graphs: Using coordinates to display values for two variables in one set of data. This is where infographics become extremely valuable, showing correlations between two values like height and weight.
- Heat maps: Heat maps let you present more abstract data and show hot-spots in certain areas. It’s great for reports that show statistics per location.
Aside from consistent data visualisation techniques, a truly good infographic should have its own sense of style. A limited colour palette helps tie the piece together. Multiple rainbow colours might work great on a PowerPoint graph for a bank manager conference, but well-sourced data should be presented cleanly and effectively.
Don’t forget the hierarchy of information. Allow viewers to navigate through the piece with clean lines, with the information situated at each of the key sections. Relevant data and information should be presented as such and not packed in like sardines in a tin. Allow your piece to breathe and let the stats and key points stand proud.
A strong typography rule should also be applied, much in the same way that a magazine or a brand’s website uses consistent typography on double page spreads or multiple online pages. Typographic consistency can be created by complementing a stronger title typeface with clean body copy that’s easy to read.
For the non-statistical pieces that are more lifestyle-orientated, a different method of thought is needed. This is where the illustrative and creative flair of the designer comes into play. Creating beautiful and complex data visualisations out of numbers and data is a tough skill to master, even more so when you’ve only got 620 pixels of width to play with, but illustrating the unique components of a piece is no mean feat either. Taking a well-researched and piece of engaging content and interpreting it through clean illustrations and components takes a keen eye and high level of skill.
Of course, once the infographic is done, you’ll need to go over it with a fine toothcomb to make sure everything is correct.
Then the hard work of outreaching it begins…but that’s a story for another time.
Want to create engaging infographics that prize stats over fluff? Contact Mediaworks today.