An infographic can be a great way to tell a complicated story, using facts, figures and graphics to best get its message across — or it can be a confusing mess of too much data, overly-complicated design and hard-to-read text. As with a press release, feature story or listicle, there are many right ways to make an infographic, and even more wrong ways to make one.
Tell a Story
Just because you are making an infographic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell a story. And just as with a journalistic article, you should put the most important pieces of information at the top and tell your tale from top-to-bottom as the reader navigates down the infographic.
Craft a Catchy Headline
Like a news article or feature story, you should employ an informative and interesting headline to capture the reader’s attention so he or she will want to review the entire infographic.
Move From Top-to-Bottom
Position your text, data and images in a linear fashion, so the reader’s eyes move from the top to the bottom of the infographic. This sounds like a no-brainer and not something that needs to be said, but some of the worst infographics try to get too cute with text that twists and turns as it wends its way through the available space. Just because you can insert lots of arrows and differently oriented text doesn’t mean you should!
Keep it Simple
Keep things as simple as possible — not just in terms of graphics and layout, but also in terms of information. Yes, you can use an infographic to tell a complex story — that’s what they are great at relating — but you need to keep in mind the interest level and sophistication of your target reader. If you are crafting an infographic for general consumers, don’t assume a high level of knowledge or familiarity with your content — and don’t assume they will want to delve into it as deeply as will those who work in your field.
And when it comes to charts and graphs, don’t over-complicate things with superfluous charts-within-charts or difficult to understand graphs and tables.
Don’t stuff every last fact and figure into your infographic just because you have a ton of data at your fingertips. Only use those supporting elements crucial to telling your story — the one that matches your headline. If you have so much data that your fonts get too small to read or the length of your infographic become unwieldy, cut things out and consider that you might have enough data for another infographic that should be distributed separately. Keep in mind that even the most engaged and interested readers have a limit to their attention spans. And, more importantly, media outlets aren’t going to want to run an infographic that swans down their page forever, and might not have enough available space even if they wanted to run it.
Mind Your Size
Remember, you are not just making an infographic just for your brand’s website. You should be aiming for the widest infographic distribution possible. And if you want media websites or other third party sites to run it, you need to make sure it will fit into their templates and available space. Remember, media outlets need enough space next to your infographic so they can run advertising, promotions, menus, other content and widgets alongside it.
Put simply: If your infographic is wider than 600 pixels, most media outlets won’t have enough space to run it or will need to shrink it down, potentially making your text hard to read. And it shouldn’t be longer than 1600 pixels in most instances, because this can be longer than many media outlets desired page length (because they don’t have enough advertising and other content to stretch down that far).
Keep an Eye on Color
Make sure fonts and background colors are legible. Don’t use light colors on light backgrounds and avoid pastels and color combinations that hurt the eyes. Also consider how legible your infographic will be if it gets shrunken a bit to fit a media outlet’s available space.
Don’t be Too Promotional
As with any good feature story, an infographic should tell a good story that readers want to consume. This means you shouldn’t be overly-promotional, spouting off facts and figures about your brand or your products. And don’t use an infographic as a showcase for product shots and logos. Yes, you can include your brand where it makes sense editorially — just don’t make your infographic look like an ad.
Get it Seen
If you put in a lot of time and money making the perfect infographic to tell your tale, try to get it distributed as widely as possible. If your brand and your infographic’s story are consumer-oriented, consider distributing it to mass media outlets – the websites of newspapers, TV stations and radio stations, and even to print newspapers. And don’t forget social media to promote your infographic’s media placements via influencers who are relevant to your brand and target customers.
You can do this yourself by pitching media outlets and social influencers, or you can turn to an Infographic Distribution Service, such as that offered by StatePoint Media, which will guarantee media placements and track results for you. With StatePoint you can now secure national editorial placements for your infographic on 1,000+ local media websites and print newspapers, and even have it shared by a network of social media influencers.
Know When to End It
When you are done telling your story, get off the stage…
Image Credit: goir – Fotolia.com