Do you have a lot of information that you need people to consume, understand, and retain? Are you wondering how to deliver that information best? These can be difficult questions to answer. After all, we only remember about 20% of what we read. Infographics to the rescue! As demands for our attention increase, our society utilizes visual communication as a quick and effective way to distribute information. 90% of information transmitted to our brains is visual.
What is an infographic?
It’s a visually appealing layout that uses a collection of images, charts, graphs, and a little text to deliver information in an easy to understand and attractive way. People process visual data 60000 times faster than they do text. When viewing an image, we process the picture all at once, whereas we linearly process text, meaning it takes us longer to distill the information from it. Using images and text together helps us to remember the information much more comfortably than text alone.
We’ve used images to tell stories and distribute information for as long as there have been people. Actually, for 250 centuries, we’ve used pictures to record our and share our experiences.1 In their earliest forms, they have been used to convey information since the early 1600s. Many of these were more straightforward, but the concept was very much the same. So It’s evident we are hard-wired with advanced visual sensory abilities. Interestingly, 50% of our brain is dedicated to processing visual information.
Creating a useful infographic is paramount to effectively getting your information across. It may seem like a daunting task, but there are a few steps that can help you create a great infographic that will suit your needs.
- Decide what you want to say.
- Organize your information
- Distill your written data into visual elements
- Wrote text to complement the visuals
- Come up with a theme or style.
- The design
- Cite your sources
- Take a break and let it breathe.
- Proofread and make revisions
- You’re Done! Or are you?
Decide what you want to say.
The first step to creating a useful infographic is to get an idea of what exactly you want or need to say. You want to paint a clear picture to inform your viewers, so it’s best to focus on one topic for your infographic. If you find that you have a lot of data, you may want to make more than one infographic. One infographic for each topic, for example. Once you know what you want to say, collect your information, and do your research. Current and accurate information is imperative.
Organize your information
Once you have all your information, organizing it is extremely important. Make a rough sketch or wireframe layout of the information. Here, grouping relevant points into sections are helpful in the next step, where you start to distill the information into a more visual format. Toss out anything that may not be relevant.
Distill your written data into visual elements
Consider what is presentable as images, graphs, charts, illustrations, etc. Use a visual representation wherever possible and decide what can remain as text.
There are a wide variety of visual elements you can use. Images are great to show a lot of information quickly. These can be photos or illustrations. Graphs and charts are a great way to show comparative physical data. And mind maps are an excellent way to show a progression of thoughts or actions. Use your imagination!
Write text to complement the visuals.
Remember, you want to keep text to a minimum as much as you can. Make sure to have a look at how the text will reinforce the elements of the infographic. They should work together to make your point clear and understandable. You will also want to come up with a catchy headline to announce your topic for the infographic. And then, decide on any subheadings for each section of the infographic, ensuring it efficiently allows the viewer to navigate the data in the infographic. These are also key to conveying your information and enticing the viewer into engaging with your infographic.
Come up with a theme or style.
Now is an excellent time to plan your theme. Is what you’re trying to say dangerous, lighthearted, casual, or formal? Who is your audience, and what do they relate to best? What is your brand, and how can you incorporate it into your infographic? Use these parameters to help you decide on the style of graphics elements, the fonts you choose, and the colors you’ll use. For example, if you are making an infographic about handwashing meant for school-aged children, you can use more “fun” fonts and lighthearted graphics and bright colors.
At this point, you are ready to move on tho the design aspect of your infographic. It doesn’t mean you need to be a design whiz! There are many options available to you. You can do it yourself if you have the know-how or some excellent easy to use software options that have pre-made templates that you can customize and make your own. Or you can outsource the entire thing to a graphic design professional. Regardless of what you decide to do, there are some essential design features to keep in mind.
- Keep it simple. Limit your points to only as many as you need. Extraneous information only serves to confuse the viewer.
- Limit your color palette. You don’t need all the colors of the rainbow. Pro tip: incorporating your brand colors helps to tie the infographic to you or your company
- Use a limited number of fonts. There are thousands of fonts to choose from, and sometimes it’s hard to decide! But it’s best to keep it to 2-4 different styles. Keep in mind what fonts are used in your brand as well.
- Negative Space is your friend! Give the elements of your infographic some space to breathe. Crowded designs are hard to look at, and the idea is to convey your point in a pleasant and easy to digest way.
Cite your sources
Don’t forget to cite your sources! No matter where you get your data from, it’s essential to include that in your infographic. It can be done within the infographic body as long as it doesn’t interfere with the flow of the design. You can also place it in the end. Either way, citing sources is always good practice.
Take a break and let it breathe.
After being so immersed in your creation, it’s hard to be an adjective about it. Take a break! If possible, give yourself a day away from looking at it and come back to it with a fresh eye. Once you’ve slept on it a night or so, you’ll be more likely to see any errors or omissions that slipped past you while you were up to your elbow in the middle of creating it.
Proofread and make revisions
Now is the time to look at the infographic with a very critical eye. Look for typos, spelling errors, and check your grammar. Make sure that your graphics work with the type. Ask yourself if it says what you want it to effectively. Look for inconsistent use of colors and fonts and any other inconsistencies you may notice. Ask others to have a look at it as well. You’ve lived and breathed this for a long time, a fresh set of eyes may very well see things you may not. An outside opinion will also give you a sense of whether or not the infographic conveys the information you want to say in a way that is easy to understand.
You’re done! Or are you?
You’re finished! The infographic is ready to be shared with the world, but it doesn’t just stop there. A useful infographic is fluid and current. Take the feedback you’re given and make revisions if necessary. Check your data and update it regularly to make sure it is up to date.
We are inundated with information every single day. We process 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily! The challenge is finding the most efficient way to reach your audience when they are already swimming in a sea of information. Infographics can be a useful and valuable way to reach your viewers. They are easy to recognize and process and increase the level of recall of the information as well. As a bonus, infographics are shared three times more often than any other type of content, so your content’s organic reach is increased!
Infographics can be valuable, and with a little planning, you can create stunning visuals to communicate with your clients, employees, and colleagues.
- Pauline Dewan. “Words Versus Pictures: Leveraging the Research on Visual Communication,” The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research. Vol. 10, no. 1 (2015)
- Infographic, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infographic, Accessed July 22, 2020
- How to Create a Killer Infographic in Under an Hour, Wix.com, https://www.wix.com/blog/2017/07/how-to-make-an-infographic-in-under-an-hour, Accessed July 22, 2020
- How designers do it: 15 easy steps to design an infographic from scratch, Canva.com, https://www.canva.com/learn/create-infographics/, Accessed July 22, 2020
- Humans Process Visual Data Better, Thermopylae Sciences and Technology, http://www.t-sciences.com/news/humans-process-visual-data-better, Accessed July 22, 2020