Key Elements of Great Infographics

June 2, 2015 - Posted by LifeLearn

Infographics are all the rage on the Internet right now. Because Internet readers are being inundated with text-based content, businesses have been searching for new ways to communicate their message. As a result, infographics, with their combined text and images, have emerged as a popular method of rising above all the noise.

And with good reason. Infographics work. They cater to our naturally visual brains and enhance memory. They capture attention and can communicate and simplify complicated messages and meaningfully visualize facts, figures, and data.

But there’s a major problem.

Many infographics aren’t accomplishing their purpose. If the goals of an infographic are to stand out among all the text-based content and to communicate a message, many infographics might succeed in the first regard, but often fail in the second.

Key-Elements-of-Great-Infographics

This failure is primarily due to poorly created infographics. There’s no doubt that you have seen one, if not dozens, of these. They often feature a mishmash of text and images, presented seemingly at random, and lacking any cohesive structure. Additionally, these infographics frequently fail to present any kind of meaningful narrative and attempt to communicate too many ideas at once.

When investing money in creating infographics, it’s essential to ensure that the end result is serving its intended purpose. To that end, we’ve assembled a list of elements that every effective infographic should have. Use this list to ensure that any infographics you add to your content or sales strategies are successful.

Effective Infographics:

Have a Purpose

The place to begin when creating an infographic is with the purpose. Every infographic should clearly achieve one objective – the emphasis being on one. Effective infographics focus on one idea and one message. Any more than that will likely confuse and overwhelm the reader, preventing them from actually learning anything. If you have multiple messages to communicate, they should be broken up into several infographics.

Have a Goal

Similarly, your infographic should have a goal. The purpose of the infographic is to communicate a specific message, but the goal of the infographic is what you want the reader to think and/or do after they have read it. What marketing or sales goals are you trying to achieve with the infographic?

Often, a call-to-action is a great way to help steer the reader in the right direction. A call-to-action isn’t necessary, but it’s a useful way to motivate the reader to take action or engage in next steps.

Create Personal Relevance

The best infographics reveal the personal relevance of the data. Through the strategic use of images and text, infographics communicate the significance of the data in a manner that is more effective than just text on its own.

A fantastic example of an infographic that communicates the relevance of a message is The Deadliest Animal in the World. Through a very simple narrative style, this infographic emphasizes the deadly impact of mosquitoes. The infographic is built around a single idea – that mosquitoes kill, and it communicates that idea with immense clarity.

Follow a Narrative

Having established an idea or purpose, the infographic should communicate this purpose/idea through a narrative. The story in the infographic explains why the data is important. Narrative also creates a logical flow that communicates the message the infographic is designed to send.

Visualize

A favorite saying of writers everywhere is “show, don’t tell.” The same should be true of infographics. Great infographics use visuals to show what cannot be as effectively communicated in words. But all too often, infographics merely feature paragraphs of text next to semi-relevant icons or images.

This design misses the point of an infographic. The goal of visualizing information is to emphasize information in a way that can’t be done through text. Data visualization reveals patterns and brings significance to facts and figures that might otherwise be difficult to comprehend.

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, data in the infographic should be visualized, whether that’s in the form of a chart, graph, table, or picture, with text kept to an absolute minimum.

It’s true that not all information can be visualized. However, if your message cannot be visualized effectively, an infographic is probably the wrong format for that particular information.

Are Simple

Great infographics are often simple in design. Occasionally, complicated graphics may be necessary to effectively communicate the message, but for the most part, the best infographics feature basic design. Overly complicated visuals or layout can be distracting and overwhelming to readers. Simple design is often the most effective to clearly convey the intended message.

Take, for example, the Billion Dollar-o-Gram. Brilliantly simple in its execution, the Billion Dollar-o-Gram uses proportional rectangles to represent billions of dollars in a manner that creates relevance and understanding. The Billion Dollar-o-Gram on its own is not an infographic – it’s a data visualization. But the data visualization technique of the Billion Dollar-o-Gram could be incorporated successfully into an infographic to represent proportional values. And it can be accomplished by simply adding rectangles.

When it comes to simplicity of design, there are several aspects to consider:

  • White Space – Use of white space is essential to effective design. Strategic white space creates legibility and structure. It also avoids overwhelming the reader with too much information.
  • Typography – Great typography also promotes legibility. Font selection should be based on the theme of the infographic, and the number of fonts should be kept to a minimum. Font color should be chosen with maximum legibility in mind.
  • Text – Text in the infographic should be kept to a minimum and displayed in relation to relevant images and icons.
  • Color scheme – Too much color is distracting. Great infographics keep their color schemes basic (3 color maximum).
  • Images and icons – The images and icons used in infographics are often selected to be as simple as possible. Rarely are real pictures used in infographics, and even more rarely are they used effectively.

Cite Sources

Especially relevant in the animal health industry, sources are essential to giving your infographic credibility. If a reader feels particularly surprised or skeptical about data presented in your infographic, providing sources gives them the opportunity to see the research that backs up your information.

Types of Effective Infographics

These types of infographics lend themselves well to effective data visualization:

  • Maps: Representing trends across states, countries, or the world can be done quite effectively through the use of a map.
  • Comparisons: When comparing two or more thing, an infographic can help the reader quickly visualize significant differences or similarities.
  • Timelines: Timelines can demonstrate chronological order and represent how events occurred over time.
  • Data visualizations: A single data visualization is not an infographic, but combining several of them together into a meaningful narrative is.

Adding an infographic to your sales or marketing strategies is a great way to communicate important information in a visually appealing and engaging manner. Use this list to ensure that when you’re investing the money, you’re creating infographics that are valuable and effective.


 

Considering creating an infographic? Contact us to learn more about how our talented team of biomedical communicators can help you visualize your message.