Why are infographics such a great way to convey information? It’s simple, really. Our brains are much better at processing VISUAL content.
Let’s face it: we humans are shameless magpies when it comes to pretty things like infographics. In fact, Google searches for these wonderful creatures have increased 25 times in the last five years. No matter what your background, your education level or your reading preferences, you’re probably no different from the rest of us: always looking for the quicker, easier, more entertaining route to enlightenment. Because being a Buddhist is bloody hard.
Did you know? You’re 30 times more likely to really reach your audience with an infographic.
How to choose content for your infographic
If you want your graphic information to be memorable and effective, you have to make sure to get it right. It won’t necessarily happen the first time round – you’ll need to get the hang of it, and brainstorming will need to happen (possibly over a beer or two). Other than loosening your creative muscles by means of a beverage, there are a few more conservative suggestions you can apply.
Most importantly, you need to show information! So start by choosing the most valuable information in your copy. Ask yourself the following 3 questions:
Who is my audience?
Are you compiling an infographic for students, parents, professionals or even kids?
What is thus relevant to my audience?
A University student would care more about the increase in sin tax in the national budget than personal income tax.
Why would they care?
Still referring to the student, he/she would want to know how many beers or beverages they can now afford with their monthly allowance.
Where will this infographic feature?
Will it feature in a newspaper, online or perhaps a billboard? This will have an impact on the content you choose to use as well as the design.
How are you going to tell it to them?
Remember, it’s equally important to do your homework. Research and study the topic on a broader scale, so that you can ensure the information you’re presenting to your audience is spot on.
Follow the five ‘S’ rules to become a graphic guru:
Structure – does your infographic tell a logical story? Is the content suited to the format? Does it make sense and align with your brand? If your layout isn’t appropriate, or if it’s too busy, you’ll end up confusing and frustrating your target audience far more than if you’d kept to basic text. Look around for free online templates to get you started.
Simplicity – there’s no point to a graphic illustration of content if it doesn’t ensure that the content becomes easier to grasp, and most importantly, to retain. So if you’re trying to explain the theory of relativity, perhaps you should make sure that your intended audience has the requisite amount of education and perception, before you turn e=Mc² into a pretty picture. Or perhaps you should rethink the content you’re using. Not everything can be visually simplified. Sad, but true.
Summing up – the whole point is to get the most important data across in a short amount of time (before your audience loses interest). So make sure you use fewer words and less space than you would have in a purely textual version. A LOT fewer and a LOT less. Keep it simple, keep it obvious! Infographics are not about fine print. They’re the ‘cheat sheet’, the cue-card summary of the really important stuff that you can’t afford to let slip through the cracks.
Styling – your visual elements should be uniquely tailored to your topic. And they should be gorgeous as well! An ugly, cluttered infographic is no good at all. Why not try using a photograph for a more creative, bold approach? It can hit really hard if it’s done right. And make sure your tone is carried through in the colours and pictures that you choose. Don’t do an infographic about mortality rates in the form of an ice cream cone with fewer scoops of lovely strawberry ice cream for fewer years of life expectancy. Just… Don’t.
Spot on – make sure you’re sure of your facts, and don’t forget to CITE your sources. If your infographic is clever and interesting, people will share it, and that should always be good news. But it would be very embarrassing if it were to be shared and you received an angry call or email from an indignant author or designer who doesn’t appreciate how much you admired and drew inspiration from his or her work.
How to make numbers talk and explain tricky stuff via an infographic
When you are faced with a very technical piece, best is to start by breaking it down. Start by separating your topics from your numbers. DON’T panic they will all join forces again in the end.
So chunk and simplify:
Topic: Identify the topic and stick to it.
Numbers: Highlight the important numbers (statistics and percentages) but stick to the simple and necessary.
Spot the eye candy: Now that you have your topic and the numbers in front of you, try and spot the visual potential.
Try and show the tax implications of early withdrawals to a member of a retirement fund.
Topic: Tax implications of early withdrawals
Numbers: The first R25 000 of a cash withdrawal will be tax-free with the balance up to R660 000 taxable at 18%, the next R300 000 at 27% and the balance at 36%
Spot the eye candy: It has quite a snowball effect, doesn’t it?
Once you’ve covered all these bases you are well on your way to becoming a graphic guru. Keep the creative juices flowing by spotting the infographics around you. You’ll be surprised at how infographic potential appears in every piece of information you consume. Remember, ‘creativity is intelligence having fun.’