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As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”; a picture can tell more stories than the usual way of presenting thoughts with words. Even in ancient history, it is proven effective to cascade information using graphics and images – just like how the cavemen write their daily activities back in the days using hieroglyphics.
Through time, this medium has evolved to a more intricate form of art with the help of the latest design trends. From simple combinations of lines and shapes, these data visualisation included design principles such as color psychology, where they create visuals that suits the information and the target audience. It is later coined as ‘infographic’ – a combination of information and graphics.
But, you shouldn’t perceive infographics as a laid back, easier option than writing long articles. Choosing infographics as a medium for information dissemination requires extensive knowledge and creative concepts. You can’t just throw in all the materials and hope to communicate successfully. Clear and concise infographics are the most effective. If the design is cluttered, the key elements will not stand out and you cannot deliver your message clearly. Many companies and brands are utilising infographics to better communicate their message to their audience – from simple public service announcements to actually promoting their brand.
According to Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications, creating infographics is basically having the maximum amount of data in the least amount of space. Every design should be, as the old saying goes, short and sweet.
With these basic strategies in mind, what other aspects should you consider to make sure that every infographic you’ll create will be attractive and effective? Upon gathering information from some of the experts in the creative and design field, we have compiled some important factors that you should keep in mind when creating an infographic:
It’s the thought that counts
It’s VERY important to focus on a single goal for each infographic. One of the reasons why an infographic is ineffective is having too much information. Do not insert multiple ideas in a single piece because it can complicate the entire execution.
Once you have straighten your thoughts, make sure to use reputable sources as a reference for your facts. Utilise various research materials to gather more relevant information about your concept. Fact checking is vital to keep the credibility of your material. Oh, and most importantly, always give credits to your sources. It makes the information more credible and it’s, you know, ethically required.
Make it creative but not too artsy
It pays to have a clear concept for your design. You cannot just insert a variety of small artworks, a little bit of gradient colors, and some fancy font to make your infographic visually appealing. It’s better to use simple graphics that will tie with your data. Say for example, if you are going to create an artwork for a public safety on the road, make sure to use simple elements related to it; like traffic lights, street signs, and pedestrians.
Only use graphs and charts if it’s extremely necessary. It’s better to use numbers if you want to highlight data and statistics. As mentioned above, your graphics should be understandable in a glance. It’s also recommended to consider the hierarchy of each information that you will highlight. Consider the reading pattern of your audience. Some people read in the F pattern, which means that you should put the vital information on the upper part of the page. While some readers are doing the Z pattern reading where they don’t actually read but they just scan the page.
The size of your infographic matters too. Make sure to not create an extremely huge infographics. It’s better if the readers would not need to scroll further down just to digest all the information that you want to deliver; one or two scroll downs should be fine. Some experts suggest to limit the width to the standard size of 735 pixels; and anything that’s over 5000 pixels tall is already too much.
Basically, the design should be a secondary priority but it should be the backbone of your infographic. The design should be strong enough to attract the attention of the readers but it shouldn’t be too flashy that it steals the spotlight from your actual goal.
More than just the fact that images and illustrations are enticing to the readers’ eyes, infographics can convert a complex information into a visually-stimulating story board. If you will come to think of it, it’s an upgraded version of pie charts, bar graphs, and line arts. It has a wider approach on presenting data which can be personalised depending on the demographics of your target market.
But here’s the tricky part: to be able to have a sensible infographic, it should tell a complete story and it should be easy to understand at the same time. The reader should already have the gist of your message even if the reader just skimmed it.
Just like everything else, it’s just basic science. A good and effective infographic starts with a ‘why’ and ends with a ‘how’. Its main role is to answer an interesting question and to help resolve an existing issue; it’s not just a tool to grab the attention of your audience as part of your marketing strategy. Every design has to have a purpose, or else it will lose its meaning.