7 Key Elements of a Great Infographic Design
Infographics are a form of design that attempts to visualize a set of data points or content in a really compelling way. In all honesty, the objective is often times to take something that may be boring in basic text format and make them compelling and interesting through visual art.
To the untrained eye it may be hard to see the difference between a successful infographic and an infographic “dud”. However, through our experience, we have found that a great infographic design has 7 simple key elements. Discarding even one of these elements can mean the difference between a potentially viral piece of content and a graphic that nobody ever sees.
Element 1: Thesis
This is often times the most overlooked piece of an infographic. We have all probably heard this term from our days in elementary school. Right? We were tasked once a year to put together a science project to test a hypothesis of some sort. There were really interesting thesis projects and then there was the ever over done Volcano.
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement offers a concise solution to the issue being addressed and states the claim of the argument.
What makes a good thesis statement?
A good thesis statements will usually include the following four attributes:
- Take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
- Deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
- Express one main idea
- Assert your conclusions about a subject
Without a great thesis you have no story to tell. Without a story, nobody will share your infographic and it will immediately fall into obscurity.
Element 2: Data
Your data needs to tell a story. That story should support your thesis. A bunch of random data does not make an infographic. Flush out your data in a well organized outline which can be easily read while designing the infographic.
Element 3: Color
Start off picking one core color that fits the theme and topic of the infographic. Think about the elements you will be creating. What color will bode well for these elements? Once you have chosen one core color start building out your color pallete. Make sure to be flexible. Finess you color treatments until you have something that is pleasing to the eye. Your infographic info could be compelling but if its ugly you will have a hard time getting people to share it.
Element 4: Flow
Think of your infographic as if you were telling a story. You need to guide the reader through your story so that they can easily derive the value and meaning from your infographic and come to there own conclusions as to what it all means. When writing a book, the reader follows along page by page in systematic order. The same concept should be followed for infographics. There should be some sensible order of elements to guide the reader through the infographic. Much like a story in a book, it would be quite impossible to follow along if you were skipping back and forth between pages.
Element 5: Visualizations
I have a couple simple rules to visualization design. Follow these rules and you will have the tools you need to make an infographic that gets people to stop and take notice:
- Design your data visualizations to tell a story
- Create custom visualizations based on the theme of the infographic
- Never use stock illustrations
- Don’t bury your data in text
Element 6: Sources
In order to give your infographic credibility, its important to site your sources when appropriate. You can place your sources in the bottom of the of infographic. In some instances you may want to site the source within the infographic as long as it doesn’t take away from the reader experience.
Without sources you won’t get picked up by any credible media outlets. That reason alone should get you to take the extra time to gather your sources. And, don’t wait until the infographic is completed to go back and find your sources. At that point you’ll most likely have forgotten where you got the data.
Element 7: Branding
Whether your a freelancer, work in an agency, or part of a marketing team within a company – you will probably be asked at some point to integrate the companies colors into the infographic. This is a tricky proposition to navigate. One, because you want your infographic to stand out and be innovative and its hard to do that with such constraints Two, because on the surface it does sound like a valid argument. However, my advice is to design the best infographic you can that creates the most buzz and sharing possible. If you do this then in the end the colors of the infographic don’t matter.
Don’t get me wrong constraints breed creativity in most cases. However, rigid constraints that will impede a constructive design process are highly advised against.
With that said, you should include the following branding elements to drive traffic and awareness for the company you are marketing:
- Company Logo
- Website/Landing Page Url
Did we forget anything? What are some other important things to remember when designing an infographic?