Infographics: Fueling the Thinking Eye with Eye-Candy!

Infographics are not exactly a new phenomenon. ‘Infographics’ is just a searchable buzzword sort of term coined in the wake of the evolution of the Web 1.0 into Web 2.0. Using images to impart information, data or knowledge predates the internet by about 30,000 years. Cave paintings of prehistoric man and the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt can be considered as inforgraphics. A more modern depiction of infographics started with William Playfair in 1786 and Florence Nightingale in 1857, when they first used pie charts, bar graphs and coxcomb charts to draw attention to the points they were making.

 

Another notable name in the evolution of data visualization (or infographics as we have now come to know it as) is Edward Tufte, considered as the father of data visualization. He spoke about the “Thinking Eye” which is the part of the brain that is always seeking visual representation that will satisfy the question “How do I know that?” Edward Tufte encouraged designers to do away with what he called “chart junk” which he explained to be the elements in the charts which were unnecessary. This paved the way for designers to reinvent the charts and graphs in data visualization and be as creative as they wanted with visual content.

 

All of this brings us to the modern infographic. Infographics have become one of the most popular forms of content consumption across the web. From the time that they made their debut on the internet, Google searches for infographics have gone up by more than 800%. The reasons for this are varied but the main ones are that they appeal to the ‘social media generation’ who have short attention spans and love sharable content, that on an average 90% of information the brain takes in is visual and lastly, because they compile many different data visualizations into one cohesive piece of eye candy! So creating a few infographics to post on social media platforms is a good idea for your marketing mix, whether you are in the B2B or B2C industry.

 

To the Drawing Board

As with all content there are a few DOs and DON’Ts with infographics. But, as I have mentioned over and over, these rules are mere guidelines to get you started. After you get a handle on making these delectable pieces of eye candy, the (digital) world is your oyster! {I can start you off on your journey and you can go as far as you want!}

 

There are five main steps that you can follow to make a good inforgraphic.

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Step 1 – Find your story

This is usually the hardest part of the process – finding your story or message. What is it that you want to tell your audience? What is the point to this piece on content you are putting out on to the web? There are two approaches that you can take when figuring out your story – do you want your infographic to be Data Driven or Problem Solving. The Data Driven approach is one in which you already have data that your readers will find unique and useful and that is why you want to share it. The Problem Solving approach is self explanatory. Your readers have some pain points you want to address and solve or there is some question or problem they are facing and you want to present a solution to it. Picking one of these approaches will help guide your voice when you create your copy.

 

Step 2 – Pick Your Type

There are 8 major types of infographics that are being used by designers today –

  1. Visualized Article
  2. Flow chart
  3. Timeline
  4. Useful Bait
  5. Versus
  6. By the Numbers
  7. Photo
  8. Lists

You can choose the type based on the kind of story you want to tell and the kind of data you have accumulated.

visualized article

The Visualized Article is used to graphically illustrate an article you have in order to reduce the text for easier consumption. This is a more universal type and can essentially be used for any sort of content you will have.

skype_flowchart_v6

 

The Flow Chart type can be used when you are addressing a problem-solution approach with varied or multiple choices. This type of infographic shows how different situations or solutions lead to a conclusion. If you are dealing with content requiring complex problem solving or lab experiment outcomes and processes then this type is ideal.

 

timelineThe Timeline type is useful for telling a story in a specific chronological order. It is ideal to show important dates or how various events lead up to a certain milestone for a particular company or industry or cause. It is especially helpful in Social Studies related content.

 

GangnamStyleThe5BasicSteps_50b941fe628672 useful baitThe Useful Bait type is a very simple type where a question is asked and the images are used to answer that question. It can be used for just about any content type, like if you were wondering “how can I do the Gangnam Style?”

modern-marketing-infographic versus

The Verses Type is best used to highlight the similarities or differences of a particular topic. You can also use it to show different perspectives on a certain event.

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FINAL_INFO

By the Numbers type is an ideal infographic for when you have a lot of statistical data that you want to put across. It can also include charts and bar graphs. If you have a focused topic, this type can help with researching a lot of information for it.

photo infographic

The Photo type is where the Visual content is the focus. It is important to remember that the central photo or image needs to get the spotlight so there should be very little or no other images that could distract the reader.

 

 

10-beneficios-de-correr list infographic

 

Lastly, the List (or data viz.) type infographic is ideal when you have a number of steps or causes or elements that support a certain claim or point you are trying to make.

 

 

If you are still unsure on which type is best suited for you, you can have a look at this amazing infographic I found on BitRebels to make it a little easier for you. (And get a feel of the Flow Chart type while you are at it)

which-infographic-to-use-1

Step 3 – Digging for Data

The next step can be quite boring. The data that you are going to include in the infographic has to be collected, sifted through and optimized or enhanced for the maximum impact. The thing to remember here is that the images need to do most of the talking and the text should be as minimal as possible. This means that you need to use headlines and taglines and buzzwords which can deliver just the right amount of information without stealing focus from the images.

 

Step 4 – Wireframing

Ok, so wireframing isn’t really a word! What I mean here is that for the next step you need to make the wireframe of the infographic. You have the story in mind, you chose your type and collected the data and now you need to figure out the layout! What information will go where? And, where the images will go and what the flow of the infographic will be like. For this step, I personally prefer to go ‘old school’. I bring out my pencil and paper and draw out everything the way I would like it to appear. But that’s me; you can choose to do it on the computer as well.

 

Step 5 –Illustration

This is my favorite and least favorite part all rolled into one. To complete the infographic you need to illustrate it well because the visualization is the whole battle. If the visualization is not good, there is absolutely no point to this piece of content. It will have no value and will get you nowhere. This is the part where you can be as creative as you want and let your imagination run wild. With an infographic though, the idea is to keep the design simple. You don’t want to over complicate it or over crowd it. Use graphics that fit your theme and story. You will also need to pick a color scheme to compliment your design. It is imperative to remember not use too many colors and pick colors that go well together. Adobe Kuler is a great site to figure out what colors you should use. Typography also plays an important role in your design, so you should experiment with a few different fonts, font sizes, color and placement. You can download a number of free fonts from sites like FontSquirrel and DaFont. Another really cool site is WordMark. In WordMark, all you have to do is put your text in the given field and it will show you how the text looks in all the different fonts you have loaded on your computer. You can then pick the one you think looks best, rather than having to individually keep changing the font manually!

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Essentially, you can make an infographic in any software you are comfortable with, be it Photoshop, Corel or even Paint (Though paint can be very limiting, but to each his own!). You can also make it online using sites like Canva, Visual.ly, Venngage and Infogr.am. These sites present an array of templates and other related graphics that can be very helpful when you are just starting out.

 

So, there you go. I have given you the building blocks and you can go forth and make your visual data as impressive as possible. I’d like to say one last thing, just to keep you from making three deadly mistakes when creating infographics. You need to remember that nothing spoils an infographic like too much text, so do NOT be too wordy. Also the idea of the infographic is to make the information “snackable”, so do not make it too long. If the content you have is a lot then you can make it into a series instead. And lastly, an infographic’s main purpose is to show expertise, drive referral traffic and SEO so branding it is a big No-No! You can add your company information and logo at the bottom so that the viewers all see who has created it but do not crowd your infographic with company paraphernalia!

 

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Originally posted 2015-12-17 14:24:20.

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