Infographic design tips communicators must know

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Organizations are beginning to realize how important visual content is in content marketing. Infographics are suddenly very much in the marketing mix for brands and publishers.

Like all visual content, infographics make complex information comprehensible and engaging—if designed correctly. (And I don’t just mean how they look.)

These infographic design tips will help you get the most out of your visual content:

1. Establish a production process.

Whether informal or highly detailed, a production process is important. To design an infographic, you’ll likely work in a team of at least three people (client, project manager and designer). Sometimes you’ll work with a larger team. A documented production process assigns every team member clear responsibilities.

A production process increases efficiency. It easily answers questions like these: Are designers using the most up-to-date brand guidelines? Are we staying under budget? Are we going to meet the deadline?

2. Remember that good design starts at the content phase.

One of the most important aspects of good infographic design is the quality of the story behind it. A world-famous designer can spend hours making something beautiful, but the infographic won’t fulfill its purpose if the story is fragmented.

Before designing anything, organize all information into a document so your team can develop the story. Then ask: Does the story make sense? Does the data support it? Did we include all necessary information so readers will understand the story?

Ask these questions before a designer starts working. Think of an infographic’s story as the foundation of a building. If the foundation is fragmented, the building is worthless.

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3.

When you hear “infographic,” you probably picture a long image with three to four sections of information, a couple paragraphs of text and some cool illustrations.

You’re not wrong, but you’re not completely right, either.

An infographic should be whatever size necessary to appropriately support the story.

Remember tip No. 2 (good design starts at the content phase)? You should develop a story that is consolidated, to the point and supported by data. If the content is strong, the infographic’s length is superfluous.

TL;DR: The length of the infographic shouldn’t dictate the story. The story should dictate the length of the infographic.

4. Err on the side of simplicity.

It’s easy to get carried away with textures, typography and colors. These elements aren’t bad, but they can hurt comprehension if you use them excessively.

Here are some practical tips to keep your design fresh:

  1. Use a grid to keep the design aligned. This makes everyone’s eyes happy.
  2. Keep colors to a minimum. No one wants to read the rainbow.
  3. Use one or two typefaces. There’s beauty in restraint.
  4. Use textures cautiously. They can make text difficult to read.
  5. Don’t use text when you can explain a concept visually. This is visual content, after all.

Simplicity doesn’t just refer to the infographic’s design. Ensure the narrative is simple AND concise, as well.

5. Optimize infographics for their online homes.

Too often, people create infographics for environments where they’ll never live. A great example is designing an infographic for print but posting it to a blog where the text is too small to read.

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An infographic’s dimensions depend on where it will live. If an organization’s blog is 800 pixels wide, the designer will choose the appropriate resolution so the text and colors display properly. This designer may also need to adjust the graphic for print, social media and third-party publisher sites.

It’s impossible to design an image that will look perfect across all mediums, so prioritize the infographic’s components and be ready to alter the infographic if necessary.

6. Make sharing easy.

Content is only as good as your ability to share it. It’s like the proverbial tree in the forest: If you design an infographic but no one ever sees it, does it exist?

Your infographic should harmonize with your organization’s message, landing page and calls to action. You’re creating an infographic for a reason. Make it easy for users to identify that reason and decide whether they want to participate. Clear, straightforward directions for action are vital: Do you want them to share the infographic, download an e-book or sign up for your newsletter?

Say your infographic’s goal is to get many social media shares. Make sure you optimize the sharing features. Are the sharing buttons on your landing page easy to find? Do you have a caption for each desired platform? Is there an image that would make the caption better?

By now you’ve figured out that great infographic design comprises more than the finished product. Good design considers the story, style and where the infographic will appear.

Following these steps, you’ll make your infographics a means of thinking critically about business results. You’ll optimize your infographic’s elements to help your organization achieve its goals.

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Travis Keith is marketing manager at Column Five, an infographic design agency. A version of this article originally appeared on the Column Five blog.

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Originally posted 2016-01-02 13:06:27.

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