The snapshots of data in USA Today are great examples of contemporary uses of graphics which may have inspired infographic styles as we know them today. The proliferation of social media channels and more and more simple design tools make creating infographics within reach of the many rather than the few. Today being able to create an infographic is an important part of an inbound marketing tool kit.
Most infographics contain three primary elements – visually appealing graphics, relevant information/data to encourage comprehension of complex concepts, and and organizational strategies which create retention of information. The priority of these three qualities (appealing, comprehension and retention) will change depending on the uses and audience. Keep them in mind as you plan your information graphic.
Planning your Infographic
The best thing you can do is to make sure that the topic you are presenting will help you extend a conversation about your industry/business. Infographics can make a sublimely obvious point in a memorable or remarkable manner. Or, you can dig deeper and present facts in a way that clearly demonstrates your thought leadership on a particular topic and leads the reader to an important conclusion. Either way, you are turning facts into a story.
To begin – consider your customer or reader of the graphic, what is it about your business that is confusing or misunderstood? Can you formulate that observation into a problem statement? If you have a clearly defined problem statement then you can go about searching for data or information that will answer that problem. Then, you can begin to gather the data. It can come from inside your business, from your own experiences or inspiration, or from the latest and most relevant research available. Once you have gathered your facts, spend some time thinking about how to use those facts to tell a story or illustrate a point when you are in dialogue with your customers. This tactic is about visualizing a story for those individuals that you wish to engage through your website, social media or even through printed material.
Specifications for the Graphic
If you have been online at all it is very likely that you have seen infographics being put to use. You may wonder about the size and format. Often you will see long narrow presentations. These represent a story of facts that has a linear sequence with one fact following the next. Know that your infographic does not necessarily have to adhere to that format. It is the information that should dictate the format, and, to a certain extent the media in which you choose to use it. You will end up with a better product if you understand and get specific about what takeaways or conclusions you want the reader to have from viewing your designed graphic. Bottom line, a panoramic or horizontal design may be just as effective as a long vertical.
Design Your Graphic
If you have moderate design capacity and tools, you may be able to create the infographic yourself with decent results. Graphic sources for iconic elements or illustrations are a ready source of inspiration and most of these sources of images are free. Remember that you want to boldly present your facts with the minimum amount of words along with a big graphic element that reinforces a factual point. You should also consider graphic elements that will show your reader where to go next – such as arrows that show movement, or big, bold numbers. Create a consistent look-and-feel through your choice of colors – one or two seems to be better than a full color approach. Maintaining consistency can also be done by selecting your illustrations from one source so the style of illustration does not vary.
For the graphically challenged, taking on designing an infographic on your own may prove to be frustrating and very time consuming. If this is the case, you would be better off contracting a graphic designer who has the right design tools and experience to be able to create a quality product much faster. The best infographics come from the work you do to understand and refine the story you want to tell with the facts you have at hand, and how you communicate this information to your designer.
What to do with your Infographic
There are many uses for infographics, but one of the best is to disseminate it through your social media channels. It is no secret that visuals and graphics are far more share-able and create much more interaction and engagement with your prospects. Don’t forget to include contact information somewhere in your graphic (most often a website address) to claim ownership of the design and to make it easy for prospects that receive your Infographic and know how to contact you.
Aside from distributing via social media, your infographic may have a permanent home on your website or even be a suitable printed document for collateral or promotional material.
How will you use infographics in your business?
K. Donovan Consulting, LLC is a marketing consulting firm that specializes in creating content and fully developed inbound marketing plans and strategies.
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net