Infographics Guide (Part 1): When to use an Infographic.

Scott Willan
April 27, 2017

What is an infographic?

Infographic is defined by as “A visual presentation of information in the form of a chart, graph, or other image accompanied by minimal text, intended to give an easily understood overview, often of a complex subject”. In fact, it is right there in the name; information + graphic. But the key is the simplification. You want a viewer to absorb as much information as possible, as concisely as possible, as fast as possible. This means clean text, format, layout, and colours are infinitely important. They say a picture tells a thousand words, and if that’s true, infographics can tell a thousand times more than that.

When to use an infographic?

Every man and his dog are creating infographics today, but are they all necessary? I doubt it. Infographics are a tool, and as such, they have a particular purpose. You don’t see me cleaning the carpet with a hammer, so don’t use an infographic when a table or other communication tool is more appropriate.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before jumping right in:

  • Do you know what you want to say? If it’s an image with no data or story behind it, it’s just art.
  • Can you say what you want to say better with words? Remember, the point of infographics is the simplification of information. If you can just say it better, just say it!
  • Who are you speaking to? Before you can know what you will design, you need to know who you’re designing it for. An investor has different needs to a customer.
  • Do you have the data or a story? If you can’t back your graphic with data or information, you’re just lying in picture form.

Knowing what you want to say first, then designing the Infographic second will create a strong product. Having the data now is very important as you should always build around your data and never the other way around. If you have all of the above boxes checked, you’re ready to make an infographic!

Here is a perfect example of using an infographic when you should use words. “What is GMO food? … Watch this simple 2-minute video. Keep your family safe.” is nowhere near enough reason to create an infographic. Along with this, where is the video? An infographic should be self-contained. This means it shouldn’t require external sources to make sense.
As a follow along I will create an infographic, to help summarise this blog and recap each section. What I want to say: how to build an infographic. Can I say want I want better with words? Well, the blog is pretty long as is, so putting it into a picture will surely help. Who I am speaking to; you! The story: making the right decisions for building an infographic.

If you enjoyed this blog or found it useful, keep an eye out for Part 2 where I will cover the things you need before you start to build an infographic.

Scott blogs about how design and making things look good no matter if its a website or data. He is great at making data consumable and therefore valuable.

Connect with Scott on LinkedIn or read his other blogs here.

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