WHAT IS AN INFOGRAPHIC?
Infographics visually present information clearly. By pairing data with a story, complex information is easier to understand and process. Design may draw the viewer in, but the information and data convinces them of your point.
A graphic that tries to represent something without a storyline, data, or a point of view is not really an infographic—it’s an illustration. An infographic that has too much content and lacks a clear focal point doesn’t present information that can be absorbed quickly and easily.
BEFORE DESIGNING AN INFOGRAPHIC
Research always comes before visual exploration starts.
Gather data and create a rough document of relevant content. Make sure you record enough information about each source that you can find it again–and properly cite it if you use it in the final graphic. Ensure your source material is both reputable and timely (at most, a year old).
Read and understand everything. Quickly skimming materials can lead to data that skews the big picture or doesn’t connect the dots properly.
Ask questions. What is the main problem the infographic is trying to solve? What is the main focal point or hook? What is the story we want to tell? Do we have the data that supports it?
Analyze the data to determine if it is relevant to the story and appropriate for an infographic.
Determine what kind of infographic you need: a story graphic or a fact graphic.
A fact graphic has no narrative and is made up of data points with the sole purpose of sharing information. Survey results, historical timelines, and event data are all examples of fact graphics.
A story graphic is lighter on the data and has a narrative that aims to lead you through a journey and direct you to a hook or call to action.
WRITING CONTENT FOR AN INFOGRAPHIC
Boring data will become a boring infographic. Find data that is intriguing and supports an interesting story you are trying to tell.
All good stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Infographics deserve the same treatment. The beginning should introduce the problem by simply explaining something the reader may not know. From there, back it up with data, remembering that data needs context to make sense. End with your point of view, so the reader walks away understanding the data and the story you told.
Include citations for the data and material from other sources, so that readers can easily learn more or verify your conclusions.
DESIGNING AN INFOGRAPHIC
1. THINK ABOUT THE STORY
The beginning should introduce the problem. From there, back it up with data. Finally, end with a conclusion.
2. VISUALIZE THE HOOK
Every good infographic has a hook or primary take-away. This is the ah-ha moment and should be the focal point of the design. The hook could be at the end or in the middle. Usually, this central idea should be wherever there is the most visual weight, so the viewer knows what to take away.
3. SHOW DON’T TELL
4. SECTION BREAKS
Identify section breaks that help tell the story. This is especially helpful if the infographic is going to be used in multiple formats (like presentations, online, and social media). You can assume most infographics will be reused.
Color can be a useful tool to separate data, but too many colors is distracting. Most infographics will use no more than three colors from our palette. With all the data on the page, you want to make sure you lead the eye, not distract it.
INFOGRAPHICS IN USE