Brush up your infographic design skills and create content people want to read with these 6 best practices
A good infographic has the power to tell a story in ways other content types can’t. As visual creatures, humans process imagery better than text.
Easy to share and visually appealing, infographic design is used to share information that is to be seen rather than read.
This universal appeal makes them a great choice for designers and marketers to create and build their audiences. Here are Justinmind’s 6 actionable tips for better infographic design.
Transform text into visuals
A picture tells a thousand words and humans are visual creatures. Infographics are laden with visuals. It is what makes them a great content piece; they’re bite-size, easy to read (if designed properly) and ripe for virality.
As a designer, you’ll need to transform words into visuals when designing an infographic.
When you’re given the copy for the infographic from your copywriter, study it. Try and look for opportunities to transform the wordy concepts into rapidly understood visuals.
Maybe there’s complexity than can be turned into simplicity. An infographic about the inner workings of blockchain might benefit from visuals as the concepts can be abstract and difficult to understand when simply reading about it.
Create specific design constraints
A blank page can be a terrifying thing. Where do you start? Turn this daunting experience into something productive with constraints.
There’s a story about an earthquake ruining a highway in L.A. Contractors estimated that it would cost $1 million a day and 18 months to fix. Another contractor came along and said I’ll do it in 6 months. He would be penalized $200,000 for every day he went over the 6-month deadline. He transformed that highway back into shape in 66 days.
When you use constraints (i.e a limited color palette or two fonts only), you force yourself to make it work with limited resources. This is where creativity thrives.
When we set ourselves limitations, we’re preventing ourselves from falling victim to choice paralysation. Too much choice can hinder your ability to get started and create something with confidence. When you have constraints, you won’t fret over small details.which can waste your time.
Prototype your infographic to find the best layout
Prototyping an infographic? Really? Yes, really. Prototyping is useful for many things, especially playing around with content.
You can create a simple wireframe of your infographic with the content you’ve been given. This gives you the opportunity to play with:
- Visual hierarchy
- Content flow
With prototypes, you can try several (or thousands, if you wanted to) different layouts, compositions, colors and font choices.
Create multiple designs. These variations will enable you to think outside of the box and stretch the limits of your design skill. As you create more designs, you’ll start to get an understanding of what is working and what isn’t. The more you generate, the better you get at it—providing you’re analytical and learn from each iteration.
Justinmind has widget libraries that make data visualization easier. Our free Charts UI library has bar charts, line graphics and other data visualization widgets. You can download them here and experiment with the range of different styles and presentation in your infographic.
There’s also Canva, which is a graphic design tool you can use directly in the browser. It’s great for people new to design because everything is intuitive and easy to understand. Their infographic maker is great because it empowers non-designers to create beautiful infographics.
Have one focus point
An infographic, by and large, tells a story. This story is contextualized with imagery, facts and figures and copy.
You don’t want your images to compete with the copy. Nor do you want the copy to tell several stories. It’s important to have one central theme or idea in your infographic, with supporting information and elements that complement the theme.
Infographic design is better when there’s one focus point. This way your design will be balanced and harmonious instead of busy and chaotic. This will naturally create a visual hierarchy that can guide you as you continue designing.
Visual hierarchy gives meaning to your design. It tells the reader what content is prioritized and important and which content isn’t so vital to understanding. It also empowers the reader to scan and find what they want. A good visual hierarchy means the reader will be able to quickly understand the main points of the infographic.
If your infographic has a lot of juice in the copy, let that be the focus. You could play with different typography to convey a message. You can use a combination of colors, typefaces (keep this around 2 or 3) and font sizes to give the copy a boost.
Steven Bradley at Smashing Magazine writes when you create dominance in this way, by having one singular focal point, the reader doesn’t have to work as hard to find their way into your design. They don’t have to pause and think to find out where to look first. It should be easy for their eyes to follow the design.
He continues, “The focal points in your design should stand out but should be noticed after the element with the most dominance”.
Use data visualization to your advantage
Even easier to digest than words are numbers. Our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than words so it’s beneficial to make good use of data visualization.
Infographics are known for using interesting data visualizations. If your copywriter or marketer has given you copy with statistic and numbers, take advantage of this opportunity. You can send home a powerful message with numbers.
Numbers and statistics are the evidence for the claims. They can add legitimacy to your content and if your content is legitimate, it’s more likely to be shared and widely read.
The best data visualization will marry form and function. The form is how it looks, the function is whether your design is effective. Make sure that your scales are consistent so readers don’t have to spend time working out how the chart works. And double check for mistakes. A mistake can cost you legitimacy and trust so fact-check any numbers for peace of mind.
Take a look at Google Charts. It contains a lot of data visualization features you can use in your own infographic including HTML5 for cross-browser compatibility and SVGs for enhanced scalability. No plugin needed either.
There’s also plenty of data visualization to be found on Reddit for inspiration. There’s an entire subreddit dedicated to the stuff. A community like this one is great. There are monthly data visualization challenges so you can get help from experts in the field.
Be sure to create an area at the bottom to write all the sources you’ve used to gather the data so that your reader can follow up and read more for further context.
6 best practices for infographic design – the takeaway
The most important thing when it comes to infographic design is creating an asset that provides value to the reader. You can give them this value through your design choices. Careful consideration of how image and text interact and a clear visual hierarchy means the reader won’t waste time hunting through the content.
When done properly, infographics can be a great tool to get important information across in a digestible and fun way. All it takes is practice, practice, practice.