Don’t rush into design, for starters, then start by sifting out the noise.
Infographics — done right — can elevate your content, bring data to life and engage your audience. Done wrong, they’ll bewilder and turn off your audience.
We’re here to help your infographics steal the show.
The term “infographic” gets thrown around a lot — and not always accurately. So let’s define it: An infographic explains a subject by telling a visual story. The subject can be anything from a process or system to a data set or report. And the visual “language” can be spoken in icons, illustrations, photography or data visualization. No matter the subject or language, the visuals should enhance understanding in a way that words alone cannot.
So, in keeping with our show-stealing mission, read on for six tips to help your infographics be all they can be. And lest you think we’re missing the irony of an article about infographics — we are not! But we wanted this post to be all about the how, which we believe an article does extremely well.
1. Don’t rush into design. According to the Picture Superiority Effect, the brain processes visual information exponentially faster than text.1 While this is a source of infographics’ power, it doesn’t preclude the absolute necessity to be clear and easy to understand, with key points flowing coherently from one to the next. And you can’t pull that off until you’ve digested and fully comprehended the data and narrative yourself. Don’t cut corners at the beginning. You’ll be glad later.
2. Throw out the chaff. Work with teammates to find the crucial nuggets you can process into something the reader can use. Be selective. Too many statistics and design elements create a blur that makes readers tune out. You have a captive audience — 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual,2 and 65% of people are visual learners.3 So play to those strengths.
3. Must-have text only. Your goal for copy is simple: Write what’s necessary to support the visuals in the least intrusive way possible. In addition to being explanatory, copy can add personality as well, but make sure it’s not so clever as to obscure the message. When instructions are accompanied by visuals the reader is 323% (!) more likely to complete the action described.4 Let graphics do their thing and keep words out of their way.
4. Quadruple check your data. Fact checking goes beyond verifying numbers and figures. Are you creating a pie chart but the slices don’t add up to 100? Are you using a bar graph when a line graph makes more sense? Remember: You’re designing showstoppers here, so there’s nowhere to hide if you flub. Whether you hire outside fact-checkers or make it a staff all-hands-on-deck effort, don’t overlook accuracy.
5. Get it moving. Literally. A 2000 study by the Stanford Department of Psychology found animated graphics superior to static especially when explaining a sequence.5 We’ve also found animation to be helpful when representing change over time or illustrating dramatic differences among data points. Animation is a valuable storytelling tool — look for strategic opportunities and deploy with confidence.
6. Small screens rule. As of February 2021, mobile accounted for 55.5% of all web traffic.6 More than 50% of all search is on mobile.7 So it’s critical for your infographics to be mobile-ready. Keep the flow as vertical as you can; horizontal scrolling and pinch-and-zoom is a bad user experience. Also, mind your type sizes. Just because you can read it on your monitor doesn’t mean it will read on a phone.
A few years ago, I vividly remember being asked, “Do infographics still matter?” They’d already been popular for some time by then, but still my answer was, “Definitely. Yes.” My answer today? “Definitely. Yes.” All the things we’ve discussed that made infographics so effective then are just as true today. Keep these six tips in mind, and you’ll soon be hearing, “Are we doing enough infographics?”