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Wondering how to design infographics that quickly and efficiently communicate data?
This article will help you do just that with a few simple tips and techniques.
Infographics are becoming more popular with marketers, product managers, students and pretty much anyone who wants to communicate complex ideas to an audience.
They are visual, engaging and shareable. They also have tons of diverse uses.
You can embed them in blog posts to add value, reach a bigger audience by sharing them on social media or even use them to get an idea across to your boss, colleagues or investors.
Because infographics are so versatile, it can be challenging to design them. Especially if you’re not a professional designer or have enough design experience or skills under your belt.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss how to design infographics that work with all kinds of data, look great and help you effectively communicate with your audience.
Clarity is king in the world of infographics.
The more you simplify your information, the more effective your infographic will be. This is almost a natural law and shouldn’t be ignored.
Just like a long email can get boring and confusing, an infographic that’s stuffed with too much or complex information can easily lower the impact of your message.
If you’re stuck with a ton of complex information and not sure how to use it in an infographic, here are some tips on simplifying your data so it’s ready to be designed.
Before you start typing in your infographic copy, set a limit on the number of words you can use in text boxes or explainer text.
Think about Twitter a few years ago. Remember how hard it was sometimes to say everything you wanted in 140 characters?
Just like the character limit on Twitter, this forces you to think deeply about the words you choose when designing your infographic.
In the infographic example below, notice how the copy for each point is restricted to one sentence.
Remember, an infographic is not supposed to be all text. The less copy you use, the more space you’ll have for engaging visuals.
It’s common to see ratios in statistical data and in infographics.
Ratios are simply a representation of the relationship between two amounts. These usually show up in infographics as "1 in XX."
Try to make it easy for everyone by choosing a ratio that makes sense quickly.
Most people would appreciate being able to read an infographic without having to do any conversions in their head.
Try to stick with a ratio that is 10 or below.
While “2 in 5 people” is the same as “40 in 100 people”, the former has more impact because it’s simplified and more immediately comparable to the reader.
If your ratio ventures outside of the 10s, try converting it to a percentage value instead.
You can convert your ratio to a percentage using the following method:
Converting to a percentage value may have more impact when communicating your data.
When you work with numbers every day, you get used to seeing complex data visualizations in programs like Tableau.
Like this one:
But complex data visualizations with more than two variables, which may require an additional z-axis, are not exactly ideal for infographics.
Stick to two-dimensional data visualizations to make sure the information is easy for your audience to grasp.
Here’s an example of a two-dimensional infographic data visualization that looks great and is easy to understand:
Remember that your job with an infographic is to try and explain the data as efficiently as possible without over-complicating and confusing your audience.
Planning your infographic out on paper first will allow you to approach the communication of the data in a more strategic way.
While this may seem rudimentary, you would be surprised how many people don’t do this.
If you don’t plan your infographic before designing it, you’ll end up confused and all over the place.
That’s because you might need to make some changes that you didn’t realize before, and may end up hurting the entire design.
The best way to begin planning is to figure out what you want to say. Ask yourself a few questions before writing anything.
A straightforward question, but this should be addressed early on.
Make sure your audience is well-defined. Who you’re creating the infographic for will ultimately impact the way you word your copy, the colors and fonts you choose and more.
If you’re creating this infographic for a meeting, who will be in that meeting? Is your boss going to be in the room? Are you going to print the infographic or will it live solely online in digital form? How many people will it reach and who are these people?
Once you know who you audience is, ask yourself what they should be learning from your your infographic.
For example, the infographic below can be used by schools and teachers to educate students on how to show respect in the classroom:
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Customize this infographic template and make it your own!
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Ideally, you want this to be something they don’t already know.
If the information you’re putting in this infographic is common knowledge, you want them to understand it more than they did before they saw your infographic.
The answer to this question will help you understand where you may need to put more emphasis in your design.
You know your audience. You know what you want to teach them in the form of an infographic. Now, what action should your audience take after they’ve consumed this information?
Should your boss be making an important decision based on this data? Are you optimizing for more social shares and engagement?
Establishing a desired outcome will help you shape your communication strategy. Should there be a call-to-action in the infographic? Should there be a follow-up meeting or email?
Now that you know who your audience is, what you’re trying to convey and why, you need to figure out the best way to visualize and present your information in the form of an infographic.
Put the data that will appear in your infographic into a Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet. Then, draft on paper how you want to organize your information into a complete design.
Sketching a wireframe of your infographic before the actual design will help you filter out unnecessary information and figure out how many sections you’ll need.
You can also find a way to organize your visuals and text so you have a good balance.
Aside from helping you optimize your design for clarity, creating an initial draft will save you the hassle of making tedious changes later on.
Getting the opinion of others on your infographic is another way to ensure that your data is clear enough for everyone to understand.
In fact, we do it at Visme too!
Share your infographic with several teammates with varying degrees of familiarity with the data that you’re presenting to them.
Ask them to look it over and get their feedback on what they took away from the infographic. You can also do this while your infographic is still a rough draft.
Don’t put too much pressure on your teammate, but do ask them what they learned as this ensures you’re not being biased and that your infographic is actually effective.
If the infographic will be shared digitally, it’s okay to give them more time with it. Ask them to send you a short email with highlights they took away from reading your infographic.
Not all infographics are one size fits all.
You should choose an infographic design layout that helps tell the story of your data in the best way possible.
If you’re not sure how to design infographics the right way, Visme can help you get started with pre-designed infographic templates in various formats.
Here are some common formats in our template library that will help you clearly communicate your data:
Process infographics are used to show how an action or task is completed from start to finish.
The processes being explained in infographics are often complex and non-linear. This means they have several outcomes that need to be explained visually in a cohesive manner.
Here’s a process infographic template by Visme:
Process is admittedly one of the trickier infographic design formats.
I highly recommend that you spend a lot of time using a whiteboard or pencil and paper to make sure that the process you set out to design is accurate and makes sense.
Hierarchical infographics offer a useful way to rank information or organize it into predefined levels, such as by importance or size.
A classic example of a hierarchical infographic that many of us are familiar with is the food pyramid, which graphically illustrates the importance of each food group and recommended servings per day.
Here’s a hierarchical infographic template by Visme:
Hierarchical infographic design formats generally take the shape of a pyramid, but they can also appear in other forms.
Comparison infographics can be used to compare almost anything—products, services, actions, ideas and more.
There are several different ways to use comparison infographics.
It can be as simple as a side-by-side comparison of two contrasting items, or a more complex comparison with several items with different features.
A nice and easy way to compare multiple items to one another is to use a comparison chart.
Your rows will be the different items that you’re comparing and your columns will be the various features.
Under each feature, the row could have a simple “Yes / No” or any other graphical symbol to represent the presence or absence of the feature.
This is an infographic design format that you see often, and is more likely what people think about when you say “infographic”.
Report infographics tend to be more dense with information. Use this format when you have a specific topic with a broad scope of information that you want to communicate to your audience.
Anatomical infographics are generally copy-heavy and explain the different parts (or anatomy) of a person, animal, object or even an idea.
Since you’ll be using copy to explain the different parts of your object, it’s important to give yourself copy restrictions in order to optimize for simplicity and efficiency in your communication.
Set a limit on either the number of words you want to use or the number of sentences.
For example, limit yourself to one sentence per explanation and try to keep all of your text boxes within this one sentence limit.
Informational layouts tend to be a bit simpler than report layouts. They’re typically used when the amount of information is limited or narrow in scope.
For example, the infographic pictured below communicates the various psychological effects colors have on our emotions.
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Customize this infographic template and make it your own!
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An infographic like this may be useful for marketers or designers who frequently use colors to entice certain emotions in an audience. It lists a few common colors and three characteristics of each color. Pretty simple.
Notice how this infographic does not include any ancillary data, such as parts of the world where certain colors are more common in branding efforts, or the percentage of the U.S. population that dislikes the color orange.
Being able to communicate your data clearly in infographics comes with a little bit of practice but is far from difficult.
Whether you are perfecting the art of communicating data by infographic, or just starting out, Visme has many templates to choose from that were created by our expert designers.
These templates are separated by category and you’re sure to find a template that fits your project’s specific needs.
All you need to do is pick a template that is most similar to your initial draft or works well with your type of data, customize it in our drag-and-drop editor and download for free.
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If you have any questions or suggestions, we’d love to hear them! Just let us know in the comments section below.
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