Of most infographic importance…
Importance indeed. Infographics play an essential role in our data driven lives. They enable a greater understanding of our numbers, and bring context and relevance to our communications.
So, the biggie, what is an infographic? Or, let’s start with what’s not an infographic? An infographic is not just a series of numbers – although numbers are a fundamental feature. An infographic is also not just a big number with a smiley face next to it. An infographic is a visual representation of data that brings numbers to life, by adding meaning and context to make the data relevant and understandable to your audience. Got it? Ok, let’s break it down.
Bringing numbers to life
It goes without saying that the infographic should be visually engaging. The aim: to make people read it and ensure they understand what they’re reading. There are a few tricks that help this happen. Firstly, in today’s landscape of visual stimulation, you need to work harder for people’s attention. Yes, your data is important, but this does not guarantee you’ll have people queuing around the corner to read it. Creating an ownable and arresting ‘brand’ infographic (we say brand, because almost everything you do should start with the word brand) is an absolute must. Secondly, your infographic should be original and imaginative. Think beyond a generic bar chart. How about using a graphic that visually reflects what your data is talking about. For example, data showing ice cream sales could be represented with a series of towered scoops. This immediate link to your data will help the understanding of what the numbers mean in a visual way. Lastly, your infographic must be legible and clear. Your designer may get carried away with their creativity (it happens), but whilst your data needs to look impactful and exciting, your numbers should never be overshadowed by the multicoloured ice cream tower.
Meaning and context
We all want to create an award-winning infographic, or even just a great infographic, right? Well, it’s not enough to make your graphs look spectacular and charts look dynamic, we need substance as well as style in this case. Time and resources are needed to explore the connections within your raw data and to bring out the story, this will take it to the next level. So before making your infographic sing and dance, a deep analysis that forms connections will add meaning and insight. For example, 75% of 35 year olds, that you asked, eat ice cream once a week. Your data also tells you that out of this 75%, 80% of those have young children. Your conclusion is now that 60% of your 35 year olds with small children, eat ice cream once a week – a higher percentage than those without small children (apologies for the simplistic example, but hey, we’re starting with the basics!). The point is, that by combining data sources you can form interesting and more detailed assumptions to visualise.
Relevance and structure
So you have your design sorted, your numbers are connected and you have drawn conclusions – now to select the relevant bits that absolutely must appear in your infographic. Think about what you are communicating and what message you are reinforcing. Choose your best conclusions that do this job, helping to condense and streamline your graphic. This will also allow you to establish a hierarchy for the mass of graphs and charts in your design. The trick is all about scale and balance, highlighting with accent colours and muting the less important data. Structuring your graphic in this way will determine how your audience reads the information, controlling the user journey by implementing navigation and visual signposting. And, at this point, it’s probably good to mention that an infographic lives in our printed brochures as well as in our digital world.
The boundaries are bursting with possibilities for your infographics, especially with our access to big data and advancements in interactive technologies. However, these fundamentals are a quick checklist to keep things simple and help you remember what’s important. Bring your numbers to life, add meaning and context, and make it relevant to your audience and your message. If you need any help with this, we’re here to help.