Communicating with Infographics
When you're struggling to communicate a complex concept or idea to your audience, you might want to consider using an Infographic.
An infographic, short for “information graphic,” is an image that's designed to share facts, statistics and data in a more interesting way by using graphics to present the information.
Using more visual components like charts and graphs makes it easier to explain themes so that most of the people in your target market can easily understand them. The key is to present the information in a way that is appealing and interesting. The most effective infographics share some characteristics that you should explore.
The background provides a foundation on which you'll present your data. Good backgrounds can be used to separate the distinct areas of the infographic and provide a subtle cue that the message is shifting, like the way a movie shifts the background music when moving on to a new scene.
Color can be used to make specific items stand out. Overall, you should use a color scheme that will help to highlight crucial information. It's best to avoid bright colors or colors that clash. Similarly, dull grey and mauve color schemes have been proven less effective in engaging the user. Remember that color can sometimes create an emotional association with your reader, so choose wisely and keep it simple. You can use an online color wheel tool to choose complementary colors that are aesthetically pleasing.
Shapes form the basis of your design. You should use various share to organize your data and add visual interest. There are 3 types of shapes used in infographic design: abstract, geometric and natural. Abstract shapes have no specific pattern or symmetry, so they aren't part of any particular category. Geometric shapes are the core shapes we all learn as children: circle, square, triangle, etc. Natural shapes are things you would recognize as something occurring naturally, like leaves or clouds.
Texture – in this case virtual texture – can add interest to the appearance of your infographic, but use it sparingly. Things that are popular at any given moment – glossy buttons, “fuzzy” shapes, metallic characters – might look old and outdated the next moment. As technology shifts, you'll need to adjust your images to fit what is considered current.
Lines can be used in many different ways in an infographic. You can use them to show sequential steps or timelines. They can provide visual separation of ideas. You also use them to emphasize an idea. Pay close attention to the weight and style of your lines to ensure they match your overall theme.
Keep your text concise and focus on answering one question. If you publish a full page of text as an infographic, it will likely be ignored by your intended audience, so keep the text short and to the point. Separate pieces of text with images and other visual components to create some negative space and make the overall graphic more visually appealing. Keep your graphs and charts uncluttered and simple to read. Bear in mind that the purpose of your infographic is to share ideas quickly, so do just that.
Keep the sizes of each individual element balanced. That does not mean everything should be the same size, just be sure the sections form a sort of symmetry so that your reader flows naturally through the information you're presenting.
It's easiest to put these design elements into place if you use a tool to create your infographic. Here are some free online tools that work very well:
Before you publish an infographic, invest a little bit of time to review it for errors. Pay particularly close attention to any areas of data where you're presenting numbers; imagine how a user would react if they saw your pie chart portions added up to 115%. It's also a good idea to use a word processor and have another person review your text to look for spelling errors.
Give it a try and see what your creativity can come up with. Feel free to share a link to your own infographics in the comments.