howtomakeagreatinfographicAbout once a month, I get an email from someone to the effect of this:

Hi Nicole,

We’ve created an infographic about SOMETHING RIDICULOUS (How Many Shoes Women Buy In A Lifetime/Why Wisconsin Cheese Is Best/Where The Best Cities To Date Are). Here is the link: LINK We thought your blog readers might appreciate it.

Thanks, SOME PERSON I’VE NEVER HEARD FROM OFTEN WITH A GENERIC GMAIL ADDRESS

I usually check out the infographic since they’ve actually bothered to look up the name of the person who owns this website. But it’s usually about some random subject I don’t (and you wouldn’t) care about. With the amount of effort taken to make an infographic (and by effort, I mean time and money), you’d think that most infographics would be pretty well executed. Sadly, not so. In case you are thinking of creating an infographic for your business, allow me to take you through some common pitfalls as I see them.

(If you click each infographic, you can see it bigger on the real website where it lives.)

Problem 1: Where do I look? Here’s an infographic by a non-profit charity that helps people access glasses in developing countries:
glassesinfographic   This infographic has some great information on it which supports the non-profit. 25% of the world needs glasses, Americans throw away 4 million pairs of glasses a year. These are powerful figures.

But my eye has no idea what to look at first. Some of the writing is small yes but I could deal with that if I knew how to navigate this huge thing. Dividing this into clear sections (problem, solution, mission) might help or simply having it formatted differently might do it. But looking at this, I feel overwhelmed. Also as a complete aside, it doesn’t stand out to me who made this or why.

Problem 2: Too much fluff. I see marketers do this a lot. They make an infographic out of something that really doesn’t need an infographic: socialmediainfographicrestaurants If you are taking a paragraph of information and just making it a huge picture, other than prettiness, I ask why? No mind blowing facts; this could have just been information that came out of my brain. (Not that that’s not valuable but come on, facts are cool!) Also this infographic shouldn’t make me feel more confused about a topic than when I first saw it.

What is clear is who made it. That’s the easiest part to read. The perfect balance in an infographic is something 1) with cool but dense info (something you’d never read a couple paragraphs about) that is 2) presented in a visually appealing way that doesn’t overwhelm.

Perfection (relatively speaking): vitamisinfographic What do I like about this exactly?

  • Useable information
  • Visually pleasing format
  • My eye knows where to go
  • Not overwhelming
  • Not entirely fluff
  • Proper credit/visibility to the company producing it (The perfect balance is when the logo is clear without becoming the focal point. In the non-profit example, it blends too much, in the marketing example, it is ridiculously prominent.)

Another, less linear infographic I like? redlobsterinfographic Now as a Mainer, it pains me to like something from Red Lobster (click that link for the skuttlebutt on why Maine doesn’t like Red Lobster in a general way) but this infographic is all the things I want it to be. It has facts, it has visual appeal, it is not overwhelming.

As you can see, infographics can be used to convey what can be dense information in an interesting way… but how they are executed is as important as what facts they have on them. If you are having someone design you an infographic, make sure to provide them with examples of what you like as well as tell them your underlying goal (increase awareness of Maine lobsters, increase eyeglasses donations to your non-profit, etc.). Then they can make you something that’s not only beautiful but effective for sharing on your website and social media.

If you have a favorite infographic (or a horrid one) to share, link it in the comments! Would love some other examples but I think I’ve made you all scroll enough!

Our first in-person workshop in 2+ years is happening September 24!

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