10 steps to create the perfect infographic

Tiffany Farrant-Gonzalez and Jarred Romley from JESS3 will tell you in detail about the 10 basic steps required to create a meaningful and engaging infographic.

Although the term “infographic” is relatively new, the idea of ​​transmitting information in graphical form has existed for a very long time. For thousands of years, people have tried to explain the phenomena of the world around them with pictorial means. This is evidenced by cave drawings created 30,000 years ago, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that wonderfully convey complex histories using simple iconography, the evolution of Chinese writing, and, finally, the very first examples of cartography and histograms.

By nature, we are endowed with the ability to see. We tend to learn and perceive something new best when the information is presented in a visual form.

Modern infographic has undergone some changes compared to its predecessors. However, the essence remains the same. The combination of clarity of presentation with the transfer of information, this is what lies in the popularity of infographics. In an era when information surrounds us everywhere, infographics became vital. In this article, we will discuss in detail 10 basic steps that will help you create not only informative, but also attractive infographics.

01. Let the facts speak for themselves


The picture shows a blog in the form of a tree, where different colors indicate the readership.

The best storytellers of any generation are nature-gifted interlocutors who can manage the audience’s attention. They know how to interest and inspire listeners no matter where they are: in a close friendly company around a fire, on the stage in front of thousands of people, or on a monitor screen. Our generation of large volumes of information did not affect the ability to tell stories. Now, large amounts of information is not just a number on the monitor screen, it is a story that needs to be disclosed.

To convey information to the target audience, three factors must be taken into account: reasonedness, reliability and inconsistency.

If you want to attract attention, the information needs to be argued. It should stand out from other available sources. Ask yourself: “Will it be interesting to the target audience?”.

Information should come from a knowledgeable and reliable source. This is crucial in order to gain the trust of your readers. In addition, this will play an important role when your readers decide whether to share this material with their friends on social networks.

Contradiction is never superfluous. If the information that you have chosen for your presentation evokes an emotional response from your readers, it means that you have reached the goal. Disputes are good, because conflicting information can cause a long discussion that will allow you to expand your influence in this area and increase the reach of the audience of the infographic you created.

02. Set a goal and define an audience

When you have a topic and a dataset to get started, your brain begins to “explode” from the influx of brilliant ideas regarding the presentation of facts and the use of visual aids. However, before going forward, you need to take a step back. Who will you contact? How to ensure that the information you transmit is valuable to your already busy readers? What do you think a person who has read your infographic should think or do?

Knowing your audience should be in first place when setting goals and working on future illustration. To succeed, thoroughly examine your client, market and media space. So you get the potential to establish contact with a predetermined audience that will “hear” your appeal. Once you define your audience, it is time to set a goal and bring your graphic call to action in line with it. Regardless of whether your goal is to sell the product or position the brand as an ideological leader, the way you communicate a call to action directly affects the success of the created infographic. The purpose of infographics should be to engage readers at the level of generally recognized values, and not just ordinary advertising of products.

03. Make an interesting story

When you make a consistent presentation of the story based on the available facts, remember: the main thing is not the amount of your information, but how you use it. The success of your story will directly depend on your ability to empathize with readers. Therefore, you need to constantly think: who they are; what they believe about your topic; what they already know about it; where they read your infographic; how easily they can be distracted from the topic; how they want to look on social networks by sharing this or that material.

Here we see the rich history of Wikipedia, depicted by the methods of animation and visual presentation.

Having your own idea of ​​your readers, do not forget that hundreds of bits of other information falls on them from the screens of monitors. Think about how much information they can learn in those few precious minutes when you get their attention. Think about what you can say in this short period of time so important that it will change their view of the world. There are several ways to attract readers' interest:

1. Enlightenment (for example, you don’t know what XYZ is , but I can tell you about it).

2. Potential opportunities (for example, you think that XYZ cannot be applied here, and I will tell you why it is possible).

3. Fears (for example, you think that you can use XYZ here, and I will explain to you why it is impossible).

4. Calming (suppose you think that XYZ cannot be applied here, but I will tell you why it is possible).

5. And finally, humor (for example, you think that penguins do not play football well, and here you are absolutely right).

The magic of information is that it can show us hidden patterns and systems that cannot be seen with the naked eye. It is also capable of revealing mass-scale data, which we cannot even comprehend until they are translated into an understandable form. Ultimately, you must set yourself the goal of ensuring that this data is open to general understanding.

04. Make complexity simple

Once you analyze your data and come up with the story you want to tell, you need to start thinking about how to present the information in a visual form. Even if the initial format of your data was very complex, your task is to make this information available to a wide audience.

Samsung Smart Wall enjoyed incredible success during the SXSW 2012 festival, thanks to a sophisticated visual installation consisting of 23 screens that showed the most talked about speakers, venues and topics for discussion.

Not a single spreadsheet or a passage of text can help the viewer understand the essence of the matter in a way that a visual representation of the information will do. Do not limit your illustration to tables, imagine it in a format that reveals hidden patterns, emphasizes the main points, and at the same time looks attractive.

Strive to ensure that your visual presentation has the following qualities:
• Reliability: use reliable sources and be as frank as possible;
• transparency: strive for maximum clarity;
• accessibility: reveal hidden patterns and emphasize the main points;
• informational content: extract essence, train and inspire;
• value: your illustration should lead the viewer to the point;
• Optimization: your presentation method should correspond to the interests of the environment in which the information will be placed (Internet, mobile communications, video, car front panel, etc.);
• appeal: use fonts, colors, sizes and shapes to develop your storyline.

The work of an information designer is not limited to creating a beautiful cover for communicating information. It is much more important to make the information understandable. Informative graphics can be both attractive and informative. But in order to achieve real success, it is necessary to find a middle ground between creating a magnificent work of art and bringing benefits to society.

05. Structure - Above All

A clear and understandable structure is the key to the success of informative graphics. Thanks to the basic structure, it is possible to organize information, control the course of presentation and ensure the integrity of all facts. By focusing on the structure, you will achieve that the information will directly affect the image, and not its visual design.

The main characteristics that will affect the accessibility of the structure for perception will be the following:
• the amount of information that you possess (too much or too little?);
• information classification - various classifications require the use of appropriate visual formats. Richard Saul Wurman outlined 5 ways to organize information: by location, alphabetically, in chronological order, by category, and in hierarchical order;
• the environment where the information will be posted (static, interactive or dynamic);
• a place where information will be mainly posted (on the Internet, in print, on a TV screen);
• size of information.

When developing the basic principles for building a structure, constantly ask yourself: does this structure make information more understandable? Perhaps this already seems obvious, but since the main purpose of the graphic image is to convey information, its success will depend on this particular circumstance. At some point you will want to put the design above functionality. But remember that even an incredibly beautiful graphic image worthy of hanging on a wall and admiring will be just a dummy that does not make any sense. Your infographic can be considered successful if the viewer, looking at it, can understand what is at stake. If the structure of the infographic is too complicated, and the viewer must make a lot of effort to understand the meaning of the information presented, then your work has failed.

At its core, a good structure should perform the following functions:
• provide clarity;
• promote perception;
• reveal hidden patterns;
• focus on key findings.

Signs of a poor structure are that it:
• masks information;
• confusing facts;
• interferes with comprehension.

06. Prototyping: experiment and create ever newer images

As in web design, prototyping at such an early stage helps the designer concentrate on the structure of the object, without being distracted by graphic design elements such as fonts and colors. Usually, when compiling the basic structure, vivid pictures, bold fonts and color schemes are discarded to make the main emphasis on information. Working with a limited color palette and a set of simple forms, the designer gets the opportunity to study the information and consider many different options.

The geosocial universe, developed by JESS3 Labs in 2011, uses a visual image to map the largest players in the geolocation environment, or more precisely, the universe.

The benefits of prototyping is that it gives you time to experiment. The study of various approaches is very important for the correct presentation of data. The visual presentation of information, like a painting, should be interpreted by the viewer. The designer’s view on the logic of presentation and a clear structure can differ greatly from the opinions of others. Therefore, the more you show your layouts to other people, the better. At such an early stage of development, it is very important to consider feedback and comments about your layouts, as this will help you choose the best way to present information to your target audience. Thanks to prototyping, you can redo your work again and again, achieving maximum quality.

07. Choose the right tool for the job.

This simple and understandable scheme classifies and displays the full complement of supporters of the Occupy Wall Street protest.

Information designers have at their disposal a whole arsenal of different schemes. Sectors, columns, stripes, and other types of diagrams are part of their everyday toolkit for creating informational graphic images. But they are not always interchangeable - you must know exactly when to use one or another type. It is in choosing the appropriate type of data presentation that is the ability to convey information to the target audience. This choice most often depends on how the information is organized and classified.

Perhaps when you choose one or another type of diagram, you will be attracted by the form, not the functionality. But you must remember that when transmitting information by visual means, the emotional impact on the target audience is always more important than decorativeness.
Do not be afraid to use a histogram if it helps you present the data in the best way. These common chart types are the most effective means for displaying data correctly. In addition, they often form the basis for creating stunning graphic images. There are many ways to use charts, and at the same time they always remain informative and useful.

08. Choose the right approach

In infographics, two main approaches to graphic design are noted. On the one hand, there are those who let the facts speak for themselves. They create magnificent works of art on the basis of information, using combinations of colors, shapes and appropriate type design. Their story is transmitted exclusively through the presentation of data. This approach is clearly expressed in the work of designers such as Nicholas Felton and David McCandless.

On the other hand, there are those who use illustrations and well-designed visual images in order to comply with the sequence of presentation and transmission of information to the viewer.

Elections in the United States are presented in a graph where live shows the most discussed topics, as well as the rating of candidates.

There will definitely be time and place for both one and the other approach (and even combining them). Nevertheless, your choice should be based on the following indicators:
• target audience;
• preset style;
• corporate identity;
• target;
• Wednesday.

You can really convey your story using visual means, but you must use them very carefully. The main focus of attention remains on data and information. Graphic elements should not impede the viewer's perception or impede the transfer of information in any other way. Provided that it is used correctly, visual presentation of the data can be both effective and informative. Improper use of visual aids can lead to data loss.

09. Distribution and PR

Once your graphic image is ready, it's time to spread it to the masses. The truth is that even if you became the author of the most brilliant and thoughtful infographic that the world has ever seen, without a clear distribution plan, it is doomed to obscurity.

The very first thing you should do is share your creation on social networks. You are well aware that there are paid and free ways to distribute content on social networks. You must take advantage of both. Next, you need to thoroughly examine which sites your readers visit in their free time. Contact the management of these sites and convince them that your infographic will benefit their visitors.

The information poster reveals the complexity of the intricate plot of a philosophical film using the conceptual graphics method.

10. Think of infographics as moral action

Finally, we would like to quote the wise words from the book of the father of infographic Edward Tafti “Beautiful Evidence”:
“The disclosure of facts is not only a moral act, but also an indicator of active mental activity. In order for the quality, significance and integrity of the facts to remain at the proper level, readers need to insist that the authors bear spiritual and ethical responsibility for the materials that they publish. Moreover, the consumption of information is the same mental and moral activity of the individual. ”

Original text: Tiffany Farrant-Gonzalez and Jarred Romley

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