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Why an infographic needs these three ingredients to be great

Stats would suggest that images are increasingly important to a brand’s social media success. Recent data from Buffer shows that using an image on Twitter can increase the retweet rate by 150%. Images lend themselves well to most social media platforms, including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.

According to scientists, 90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual and we can process images 60,000 times faster than text. Apparently, 40% of us will respond more positively to visual information than to plain text.

In a world where we’re increasingly time poor, it makes sense that images are the lifeblood of a successful social media and blogging strategy.

The rise of infographics

You’ve no doubt heard the saying that ‘content is king’ but among images, it’s the infographic that currently reigns supreme.

Infographics are a way to present complex information quickly and clearly. Designers like us take huge amounts of data and distil the key insights into a visual, easy to understand and engaging format. They are the very epitome of ‘Show, don’t tell’, giving people bite-sized chunks of information to dip into and consume in brief pockets of time.

Stats from Google suggest that an infographic can increase web traffic by up to 12% because they invite being shared, and present a lot of quotable information at a glance.

What makes a great infographic?

As a designer, I can safely say that I can’t get enough of infographics either! It’s a chance to really put those graphic communication skills to the test. This growing demand has got me thinking about the key ingredients of a really great one. I think they boil down to:

1. An understanding of the data
In my experience, it’s essential to have a good understanding of the original data before you can create a really great infographic. As well as figuring out a visual way to communicate the key information, you also have to understand what you can leave out without compromising the integrity of the stats. It’s a fine line to walk. It’s also essential to fact check and credit the data sources.

2. Clarity
The most impactful and shareable infographics, in my opinion, are those that use simple graphics, a single style or concept, minimal text and convey the message at a glance. I like to work with a limited colour palate and establish a connection between the different sections of the infographic, presenting the top line data first and then breaking it down into clear sub sections. By limiting the colours and fonts and using one graphic style, there is a better sense of flow and connection between the different sections.

Despite their popularity, there are some horrible infographics out there. Too much information, inconsistency and too many concepts can all water down the impact. I’d also caution against creating an infographic that’s too wide (e.g. over 735 pixels) or too tall (e.g. over 5,000 pixels) as it will just overwhelm the viewer.

3. A reason to share
One stat I’ve come across is that infographics attract almost 450% more ‘actions’ than other types of posts on social media.

Why is this?

Great infographics tell a story or paint a picture, eliciting an emotional response that people want to share. For me, a great infographic makes you want to say to someone else, “Did you know that….?” Or “Wow, I didn’t realise that…

In order to give people a reason to share, we have to be clear on the main idea or concept behind the infographic and connect the dots between the different parts of the story, so that we can create graphics that lead the viewer seamlessly from A to B to C and so on.
Sign your infographic with an embed code and it will be much easier for other people to share and pass on the story you’ve told to others.

If you’re a graphic designer, have you noticed an increase in the number of clients asking for infographics? What do you think makes a great infographic? How clued up are you on SEO for infographics? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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