The infographic is more popular than ever, and with good reason. They are extremely useful to visually distill and convey data in ways that are relevant to a specific audience, and as such, have become a prominent communication tool for businesses of all kinds.
In this information age, we are bombarded with data, and we’re challenged to process it faster than ever before. Infographics help us do that because of how we are wired. According to an article by Thermophylae Sciences and Technology, “The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.” Visitors to websites typically read less than 30% of the text on a page and decide in seconds whether to stay or click away. A well-designed infographic can make a big difference.
5 elements of a successful infographic
It has a clear purpose
Function will determine form. Albert Cairo, author of The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization, advises, “The first step any designer should take before even switching on the computer is to ask herself: ‘What do I want my reader to get from this graphic? What will the reader try to do with it?’” Once that’s been determined, then and only then will you be able to formulate an effective design.
The data is accurate and relevant
First and foremost, you need to include data (10-15 data points is ideal). Second, don’t just go to Wikipedia or pull numbers from other companies’ websites. Go to primary sources whenever possible. What research can you draw on from industry think tanks, association publications, business school studies, or reputable news outlets? Have your designer be sure to include your data sources, perhaps at the end like footnotes.
“The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Visitors to websites typically read less than 30% of the text on a page and decide in seconds whether to stay or click away. A well-designed infographic can make a big difference.”
It tells a compelling story
Readers may already have a story in mind, especially if your topic is timely. Your infographic might be just the thing to help expand their thinking. Telling a story will require showing visibly how the data points relate to one another. Think about cause and effect, comparison and contrast, or chronological order. How can you use graphic elements to convey meaning appropriate to your purpose and help your readers relate to it? Every design element matters.
The graphics are interesting and hold the reader’s attention
The best thing about infographics are their ability to grab attention in a way that a bunch of plain old numbers on a page never could. That being said, the more “designed” your infographic looks, the better. At the same time though, keep it simple and clean, not cluttered and chaotic.
People respond to color, but that assumes you use a color palette that makes sense. Just as you wouldn’t use an assortment of fonts on a page, don’t throw every color in the crayon box at your infographic. Instead, consider using colors that complement your business’ brand. Keep the graphic’s width to 735 pixels, and the height to a max of 5,000 pixels. This will allow it to fit well in shareable spaces. The file should be small enough that it won’t be slow to load, but not so small that it loses clarity. Work with a good designer that can help you achieve your desired vision for this powerful element of content.
It features a clear call to action (CTA) and is easy for readers to share
The purpose you established above in step 1 will determine how you want readers to respond. According to Matt Siltata in an article for Marketing Land, a well-designed infographic will be shared more than almost any other content, so be sure to give it one or more nicely visible buttons to make it easy for readers to go straight to your website (or to take another action). Are you open to readers embedding your infographic in their own content? If so, give it an embed code that’s user friendly.