Esther Honders

By

Esther Honders

Published on

July 23, 2012

Tags

communications, digital, infographics, New Media


The popularity of Pinterest and Instagram prove it; visuals entertain. More so than reading long text, and way more interesting than making your way through numbers, percentages and survey results. That’s why we’re seeing more and more infographics, on a variety of subjects. However they aren’t always a good thing. Sometimes they can be more busy, annoying and unnecessary than fun and useful, when not done the right way. So, what makes an infographic work?

More images, less text

The first, and ultimate, condition an infographic should meet is to contain as many visual elements as possible. ‘Readers’ immediately want to see what the infographic is about, without reading the (usually small) print.

This infographic about ‘The who, why and how of Twitter’ (click image to enlarge) is a good example of using as little text as possible. The text that is there is easy to read and consists of a maximum of four sentences. There is also a great balance between text and images.

The infographic about ‘Global Hotel Price changes’ is also a good example of a visual representation of data: Global Hotel Price changes 

This infographic about Twitter, however, is not fairing so well. It mentions a lot of facts and figures about Twitter, but none of these are supported by relevant visuals or icons. It seems to be a ready-made image where the text is placed in. In addition to that it lacks a clear structure.

Follow a format

Besides the text-to-image ratio, the size of the infographic has to be taken into account. Infographics are mainly viewed and shared online, for example, to support a blog post.

Ideally, an infographic has a vertical layout and a width of 600 pixels max.

The length of the infographic doesn’t really matter, but it would be handy if it consists of different ‘components’, so that it can be divided in a few smaller images.

A good example of this is the infographic about ‘8 deadly sins of site design’:
8 deadly sins of site design

This infographic is divided into different parts, separated by lines and subheadings. This way, it could easily be divided up into different sections. This could be useful when the infographic is too large to fit a certain website.

 

Design = subject

The design of the infographic must support the subject. All components should connect. Adapt font type, font size and colours to emphasize the subject of the infographic.
What is an infographic

The infographic ‘What is an infographic?’ is completely balanced. There is a clear colour scheme, whereby neutral colours are used for background and text and brighter colours are used for the parts that should draw more attention.

Besides that, the illustrations all have the same style. It fits the design, character and goal of an infographic. ‘The paperless office’ infographic is also a good example:
The Paperless Office: Why It Hasn’t Happened (And Why It’s Going To)

However, the infographic ‘Do you know who’s watching you’ could be described as total chaos. Different colours and styles are used, none of which seem to have a direct purpose. Photos and illustrations are used together, in totally different styles.
Do You Know Who’s Watching You?

With some subjects, a dynamic infographic could add extra value or information. This shows the infographic from Kia, in which its demonstrated the workings of a hybrid car.
How does a hybrid car work?

Originating originality Bar graphs and pie charts can work just fine, but when the subject allows it, you could go much further with an infographic. Check out these examples of really original infographics:
Tattoo Infographic

London Olympics 2012

Infographic Curriculum Vitae

Pattern Matters: Tangible Paper Infographic

 

In summary

When you view all ‘good’ infographics right beside one another, you can conclude a number of rules:

  • Use as much visuals and as little text as possible
  • Make sure the format fits the medium and the infographic is easy to divide into sections
  • The fonts, font size and colours should be balanced and aligned with the goal and subject of the infographic
  • Choose a particular style of illustrations (or photos) and stay consistent throughout
  • Be original, when subject and goal, allow it

 

Above all, the art of creating an infographic is to gain experience through designing them. Take a look at other infographics and think about what you like or don’t like about them. This helps define what works, and what doesn’t, and allows you to achieve something that does. What are your favorite examples of recent infographics?

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