We’ve been having lots of fun lately with infographics; our Mandy in particular has shown herself to be very adept at designing clever ones which explain all sorts of stuff which might otherwise be a) a bit technical or b) not that gripping to read as plain old words. You can see a recent Kia infographic here.
Sometimes clients are resistant to the idea – the word itself can still be an obstacle with people not entirely sure what it means. It does have a charmingly retro-feel – to me infographic sounds like a 1950s public service film telling you about the end of rationing.
So it’s somewhat ironic that this simple ‘words and pictures’ device is in fact an increasingly popular online visual aid which can cleverly present facts and stats in a sometimes witty and visually appealing way. The good ones anyway. There are certain important things to remember when creating an infographic.
1. Rule number one.
Don’t use an infographic to sell stuff.
The whole point is that the message must be subliminal; by drawing your reader/viewer in with perhaps random but nevertheless fascinating bits of knowledge, you can expose your brand or tell a story and quietly draw them into your world and with a teensy click, your website.
The reason great infographics go viral is because people appreciate the intelligence or flair behind them. Not because they want to pass on a great 50% off deal on a sofa.
2. Rule number two.
Don’t let fancy shmancy typography or quirky symbols get in the way of the facts.
This is a real no-no. Of course good infographics require an aesthetic sensibility and sharp technical prowess but most of all you do actually need to lay out your data into pictures which make sense. Once the infographic (or datavisualisation, also known, more catchily as a dataviz) stops being an informative tool because it’s just too cool or beautiful, it’s not doing its job anymore.
3. Rule number three.
Don’t forget you’re telling a story
The way you organise your material is critical. You need a beginning , a focal point in the middle which explains the premise though logical progression and then a nice little ending to wind things up.
4. Rule number four
Get to grips with the info part
Copy, or at least the editorial thought behind the infographic, can be as important as the visual treatment (but don’t let the designers know I said that). So you need to understand the point the presentation of the information is making, capture attention and make sure the reader gets something out of it when they’re done.
5. Rule number five.
Sometimes a bar chart will do just fine.
Don’t go jumping on the infographic bandwagon unless the information you need to present really warrants it. It’s all very well creating something which goes madly viral if it’s clever-clever notoriety you’re after. But if the message is lost in the cleverness then maybe this isn’t the right option after all. Unless your information has several layers and there is a story to tell, something sharp and simple might do the trick better.
Here are some of my personal infographic favourites:
This one cleverly uses the familiarity of a Facebook page as its starting point, then packs in a huge amount of detail into what is a complex scenario. The copy is fun too.
Created by: MBAOnline.com
Back to Blighty now for a fascinating look at the social media impact of Wills and Kate getting hitched. I like the way the design is wonderfully clean but has a tongue-in-cheek royal parchment feel to it.
I wanted to include one which maybe isn’t so much fun but is a great example of how to use maps and signs to convey fairly dry statistics. The numbers alone would be hard to comprehend – the infographic is the perfect vehicle to convey some actually very interesting trends.
And this one I couldn’t resist – any clients reading, please understand, we don’t mean you.