Infographics: Maximum Information in Minimal Space
Combining Data and Visual Design to
inform, delight and captivate your audience
Written by Mike Hamers, Lightspeed
Edited by Kate Hamers, Lightspeed and Kris Green, Turn Words 2 Money
Infographics are a powerful tool for disseminating complex or conceptual information to audiences. Infographics can tell a deeper, broader story than text or raw data alone. In the past couple of years, infographics have become one of the most popular forms of online content. According to Jeff Bullas (a social media marketing expert and blogger), the search for infographics on Google increased by a whopping 800% from 2011 to 2013. But what makes them so popular in the first place?
Why Use Infographics?
Infographics are Easy to Understand. Infographics display information in a concise little package, so people can digest your content before you lose their attention.
Infographics Grab Your Attention. Approxiamtely 90% of the information that comes to the brain is received and processed visually. Visual porcessing helps us store the information in our long-term memory. It’s no wonder we are drawn to infographics—the visual information captures our attention far better than written text alone.
Infographics are Easy To Share. There is a lot of information out there on the web. People want to share that information with others. Platforms like Pinterest and Instagram make it clear that people prefer visual content. In fact, people are 44% more likely to interact with a brand who posts images on social media. If you want your audience sharing your content to their networks, interesting infographics make sharing easy..
7 Types of Infographics
There are seven main types of infographics commonly used. Each type works best for specific uses:
1. TEXT BOXES: Frequently text infographics as shown as Bio-box,
At-a-Glance, Quick-tips, of Word-cloud images.
2. LISTS: List infographics are often used to share Outlines, Rankings, Ratings, and Scores
3. YIN-YANG: These infographics visualy identify Before & After, Pro & Con, Problem & Solution, and Compare & Contrast type info
4. MAPS: Map infographics often show Location, Geographical, and Data/Statistical inforamtions
5. DIAGRAMS: Diagram infographics often highight Cutaways, Schematics, Diagrams, and Illustrations
6. SEQUENCES: Sequence infographics visually show Demos, How-Tos, and Timelines
7. CHARTS & GRAPHS: Charts and Graphics are naturals for infographics and can include Pie, Bar, Fever, Scatter, Flowchart, and Decision Tree representations.
How Do I Create an Infographic?
Despite their complicated appearance, many types of charts and graphs are easily generated using common word-processing programs for word documents, spreadsheets or presentation programs—like MS Word or Powerpoint. For more advanced representations or if you need more control over your colors and formats, there are software programs available designed specifically for creating charts and graphs.
Infographics also can be drawn from scratch using graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. This might be your only option if you need a highly specialized infographic such as a diagram.
If your layout is web-based, then plug-ins and widgets can populate your site with some types of charts and graphs. Embedding maps is perhaps the most common example of this practice. Widgets that generate “word clouds” or “tag clouds” are also common. These visually represent the frequency at which particular words appear in a given context, such as a research report, website or entire social media network. A large word means it shows up often; a little word means that word is relatively rare.
How to Use Infographics Effectively
Show—Don’t tell. The purpose of infographics is to turn wordy explanations into understandable images. Text has its place but don’t use it as a crutch. Use text minimally but effectively. Remember, a picture is worth a 1000 words.
Be Organized—Create a story line. Sketching or wireframing can help you to create a storyboard and layout for your infographic design. Simplicity is crucial.
Be interesting—Don’t settle for the same old pie charts. Viewers like “eye candy” and designs that “pop!” Don’t let your inforgraphic be too predictable and lull them to sleep. Be creative and think outside the box.
Tell a story—Have a focus. All good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Infographics deserve the same treatment. At the beginning of the infographic, introduce the problem or concept, in the middle, back it up with data and finally, end the infographic with an illuminating conclusion.
Use Color for Clarity and Added Meaning. Use a 3-color palette that is easy on the eyes. Choose a palette that doesn’t attack the senses unless that is the purpose of the infographic being created. Using your branding colors can help to build your visual identity within your inforgraphic as well.
Visualize Your Hook. Every good infographic has a hook or primary take-away that makes the viewer say “A-ha!” You should make this hook the focal point of the design if at all possible. Placing your hook in the middle or at the very end of the infographic is best.
Obey the Laws of Statistics. Your infographic can be the most wonderfully-designed thing in the world, but disobey the laws of statistics and it becomes nothing more than a pretty picture. Irrelevant and misinterpreted data can be confusing for your audience and potentially embarrassing for you. Double check your facts before you publish your infographic.
Infographics Should Stimulate the Brain of the Viewer!
Infographics should stimulate the brain of the reader through the combined use of graphic techniques and color, added to the fascinating portrayal of complex information made understandable and pleasurable.
INFOGRAPHICS HAVE THE POWER TO:
Inspire and motivate
Inform and even educate
Engage the intellect
Move you emotionally
Spark your imagination and
maybe even make you laugh out loud
With the great web migration, infographics have been reinvented as “interactive” including color, graphics, sound effects, animation, 3D and interactivity all working together to exponentially increase the communications capability offered by today's infographics. We will cover interactive infographics in a later issue.
Thanks for reading. We hope you find this newsletter valuable. I’d love to hear your feedback! – MH
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© 2014 Copyright, Good Design IS Good Business, Mike Hamers, Boulder, CO
ABOUT MIKE HAMERS
Mike Hamers is an award-winning graphic designer, illustrator and author who lives and works in Niwot (Boulder), CO. He has been the owner of Lightspeed Design for 23 years. During that time he has won over 20 national and international awards for this logo design, stationery, packaging and font designs.
Mike has had his illustrations in Wired magazine and brochure design work in "The Little Book of Layouts: Good Design and Why It Works". Mike enjoys working with all size companies – from solopreneur's startups to large national companies. His broad experience crosses most industries including bio- and nano-science, biomedical devices, technology and manufacturing, software, foodservice, and more. Mike's comprehensive design and illustration portfolio is viewable at http://www.Lightspeedca.net.
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