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How to design a great infographic

Posted on 3rd June 2014 in Interesting Stuff
Written by: Andy Wickes

A while back our esteemed Art Director Leigh tweeted an interesting link to, of all things, an infographic on ‘how to design a great infographic.’

With that in mind it seemed a perfect opportunity to take a look deeper into exactly why the internet is awash with infographics at the moment and exactly how to go about producing one that hits the mark.

So, why are we all talking ‘infographic’

Well, much of this comes down to the proliferation of social media and the popularity of social sharing. Infographics are something which we love to share as they provide huge value to the website owners who embed them, as well as providing valuable inbound links to the authors whose sites they are embedded from. In short, they are eminently in the spirit of the social internet – reciprocal linking with both parties benefitting.

News sites, PR sites, blogs and forums all love infographics as they provide a simple, fun and compelling way to present and disseminate large swathes of information, often containing complex data and facts in a simple, clear manner. If they are well designed (of which more later) they will appeal to us on more than one neural pathway (textand image) which means that we will more than likely retain that information better than if it were standard copy on a page. All this means that these news sites are very likely to want to feature these graphics on their websites.

So what makes good infographic content?

Great infographic content ought to be SOUND, WELL DESIGNED and EASY TO SHARE.

SOUND –  the data should be reliable, presented in a structured and hierarchical manner. Think of your infographic like a newspaper front cover. Your most important piece of information lives at the top of the page with the data lessening as you read on. Think about the impression you wish your reader to take away and be sure to structure the data to ensure they leave with the correct assumption, assuming they may not read the entire thing. Don’t clutter data by combining a number of stats into one. Keep them simple and clear, grouping percentages with percentages and 8/10’s with other fractions!

WELL DESIGNED – the key to getting your data understood, assimilated, retained and shared is to use great design.
Top tips are:

Use a limited colour palette of no more than three colours
Use a limited selection of beautiful typefaces, adjusting weight and size to create emphasis and interest
Use a simple grid structure to create a simple reading order and appealing flow of information
Use simple, clean vector sets to introduce graphics, but avoid cluttering the design with photography
Use a theme to hold the design together and give the graphic a sense of harmony and repeat this theme across all the points

EASY TO SHARE – in order to get your message disseminated and ideally secure back links to your content you need to make your content easily shareable. There are a number of simple things you can do in order to help  others spread the word for you:

Social Media – post your content to Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin and be sure to use hashtags in order to add your graphic to relevant conversations
Provide simple code snippets allowing users to embed your content on their own sites – sites like this can help (http://www.siegemedia.com/embed-code-generator)
Post to Social Sharing sites such as as Visual.Ly, Slideshare and Digg in order to further promote your content to a wider audience
Social Seeding – research influential users using tools such as Refollow, Hootsuite and Twitter’s very own search facility and then @mention these users with your content

Keeping branding to a minimum is crucial if you are looking for users to share your content for you – users will not want to feel they are visibly advertising your brand – subtle branding works well and by seeding via social channels and sharing sites that allow inbound links to your website, you will be getting plenty of brand exposure as well as valuable inbound links which are great for SEO.

As ever, if you want more expert advice just drop us a line :-)

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