The Skinny on Infographics

by Patricia Fitzgerald

Chances are, you’re not reading this. Sure, maybe you clicked on the link to get here, lured in by the image. But once you saw a page full of text, you probably skimmed a few lines before bouncing to another website or social media platform.

That’s ok. We don’t hold it against you. You, like most human beings, are probably drawn to images more so than words. Welcome to the 65 percent of people who are visual learners. And no wonder, when 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is of the visual variety. That same brain also processes the visual information it receives 60,000 times faster than it does text. Hence the cliche: show, don't tell.

While we firmly believe that words matter (a lot) when it comes to effective marketing, we also know from experience that translating those words into compelling visuals is important too. Especially when it comes to information that by its lonesome can single-handedly solve insomnia. That dull-as-dirt data has the power to tell a captivating story. And often the best way to do that is with infographics.

We’ve all encountered infographics in our daily web browsing and social media hopping: pie charts, bar graphs, oversized percentage signs, and rows of bathroom-icon people, presented in bright, bold colors. So what's behind the power of infographics, and why should you consider using them in your marketing content? Here are a few key reasons to get onboard with infographics.

Instant infogratification

When done well, infographics transform complex information and dry data into a visual language we can instantly grasp. You can quickly skim an infographic and get the gist of it within seconds. Not much reading required.

Attention grabbing

Findings show that infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than a text article. Eye-catching and visually appealing, infographics jump out of the screen or page to grab attention and give the viewer pause.

Start making sense

What might seem like a collection of random statistics thrown at you suddenly comes together in an infographic to make sense. Looking at an infographic, we start to see trends, patterns, and order out of chaos that our brains instinctively crave.

Make your case

Infographics can be convincing as well as compelling. They win us over with their appealing visuals, bold numbers, and cherry-picked data. If you’re trying to persuade or sway your audience, infographics are an effective way to do it.

Once upon a time

Infographics can also be a powerful way to tell a story — not with words but through a combination of graphics, numbers, and short, bold statements that work together to communicate a concept. Even cold, hard data can be translated in way that makes it seem more human.

Be the expert

Sharing well researched and soundly backed infographics can give you credibility, build trust with your audience, and solidify your stance as an expert source of reliable info.

Spread the info

Those infographics you post on social media are three times more likely to be shared and liked than other types of content. That's because infographics are easily sharable and embed-able on posts and web pages. Here’s a handy guide on how to tweak infographics for different social media platforms (executed, of course, as an infographic).

To template…

Everyone loves a good infographic. But not everyone knows how to build one. For those with limited budgets, a smidgeon of design skills, and some time on their hands, there are a lot of free online tools and templates for infographic creation, including these:

Hubspot Templates: 15 free infographic templates for use in PowerPoint and Illustrator. Here’s a cheat sheet they offer as well.

Canva: Touts itself as the easiest design program in the world.

Vennage: Create infographics in three steps.

Easelly: Offers free templates and lots of other info on creating infographics.

Infogr.am: Houses a large library of infographic templates.

Vismen: Create presentations, infographics, and visual content in minutes.

Or not to template

The appeal of creating an infographic “in minutes” is strong. But we caution our clients against going the template route. To generate the best results (measured in likes, clicks, and shares), infographics must be carefully planned and built. Here’s the kind of thought and consideration that goes into designing quality infographics.

Do the right data

Carefully choose the data you include. Make sure it’s researched, sourced, and credible. Also make sure it supports the point you’re trying to make or the message you’re hoping to convey.

Last but not least, focus on data that’s relevant, meaningful, and interesting to your audience. If you’re building an infographic on the health benefits of vegetarian diets, for instance, don’t include data on the protein count of an In-and-Out burger.

Get organized

Like any good story, your infographic should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The information presented should flow in a logical and organic fashion so it makes sense to your audience. Keep that audience in mind: what kind of story would appeal to them, and what’s the best way to keep them engaged?

We recommend mapping out your infographic before you start building it — even if that means doodling on a cocktail napkin. Start by clarifying what you want your infographic to accomplish (other than go viral on Facebook). Then identify the key building blocks — those chunks of info and data that best support your goal. Work out how you’ll piece those building blocks together before you begin creating the final infographic. Here’s a handy little tip-sheet on organizing infographic layouts.

Mix it up

Percentages alone do not a story tell. Find the right mix of icons, graphics, charts, graphs, maps, timelines, stats, and text to tell your story while keeping your audience captivated. At the same time, don’t go too crazy. Simplicity and focus are essential ingredients of a great infographic.

Infographics in action

Seems weird to be writing a blog post about infographics without, well, using infographics. So here are some samples of creative, fun, informative, and successful infographics that use data to tell a great story.

Informational

We love infographics that shed insight on a particular subject we know next to nothing about. Like this clever one using photos to educate heathens like us on the proper way to set the table.

Dining Etiquette 101

Geographic

Map-based infographics are a great way to share info, like this one that helps you locate the most pleasant places to live in the U.S. Bonus: it’s interactive, too.

The Pleasant Places to Live

Process

Process-focused infographics walk you through performing a particular task. Here’s a fun one on “Should I text him?” Usually, the answer is no.

Should I Text Him? FlowchartAnimated

If you want to get extra-fancy, build an animated infographic like this one explaining DNA.

Timeline

Timeline infographics can be among the trickiest to design. We like this cool one comparing fictional technological advancements to real ones. And where’s our flying car, already?

The Fiction to Reality Timeline

Hierarchical

Want to show the hierarchy of an organization or concept? Use this infographic comparing wizards’ beard lengths as your model.

Magical White Beards, Powers by length

The best infographic ever

We’ve just shared some great infographical examples. But nothing beats this satirical infographic of infographics.

Diagrams Rule: A Satirical Look at Infographics

For more infographic inspiration, check out Visually.

You up for some infographics?

If you’re interested in exploring the use of infographics in your marketing content, we encourage you to do so. Whatever your business, and whoever your audience, chances are infographics can help you tell your story. But the success of your infographically inclined efforts depends on the quality of what you produce.

There are creative shops out there that specialize just in creating amazing infographics. We’re not saying you should hire one of them, but we do advise working with professional designers and information-wranglers who know the ins and outs of infographics. We’d be happy to discuss how infographics can be part of your marketing mix. Let’s talk data, shall we?



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