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Essential best practices for creating static infographics

An infographic is a visual representation of information or data. Historically, Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint were common tools used to produce such graphics as pie charts, bar graphs, scatter graphs, and so on. But recently, infographics have become much more of a comprehensive story-telling deliverable. By displaying multiple bits of information or data in a linear fashion along with relative visuals, marketers are able to use infographics to relay more complex stories that touch on several aspects.

Why create an infographic?

When you have a long story to tell, and, most importantly, the story contains data points you can represent visually, infographics are an efficient and effective way to highlight key information quickly that would otherwise be buried in paragraphs of copy. As a bonus, infographics lend themselves well to additional social channels that allow you to amplify your story with accompanying visuals.

Types of infographics

There are many ways to visually represent data and information. Below are some of the most common and useful infographic styles. Each can be executed in a static or interactive deliverable based on the desired outcome.

  • Process/Flow Chart
    This type of graphic shows how a process begins and ends or how different how multiple ideas/objects interact with one another. Works well for large systems of information and instructions.
  • Timeline
    A straightforward visual with a defined beginning and end within a given time in history.
  • Comparative
    When directly comparing two things, you may want to go with a comparative graphic. Used when comparing multiple data sets or topics. Provides audiences with an all-up view of similarities and differences.
  • Data heavy
    This category covers a wide range of sub-category graphics including: research, statistical, and geographic information. Best used when displaying large amounts of information.

Top 5 best practices

  • Designing while aligning. It is always good to brand your graphic, but over-branding will result in the message getting lost. Keep the facts clear and make them the focus.
  • Keep it short, sweet, and pertinent. An infographic is really just that: a graphic delivering quick information to the viewer. While some graphics may need some backstory, it is always best to keep to one or two sentences per fact or data point. When possible, exchange typography for visual representations.
  • Have a sense of flow. Don’t let the audience get lost in your graphic. There should be a clear beginning and end. Start with an overview and then lead the audience through to a defined conclusion.
  • Don’t be drab. Use enticing colors and visuals that will intrigue audiences. When in doubt, rely on complementary colors and simple illustrations. Always invite the audience in with your graphic, never shout or scream at them. The idea is to pique their interest.
  • Measure success. Spending time or money, or both, on something whose success you can’t measure is futile. Encouraging the audience to do something at the end—“click here,” “call now,” “download here”—are all calls to action you can use to help measure success. This also ties in nicely with defining a clear ending.