The Dos and Don'ts of Infographics

Lindsay Jessup | March 12, 2017

When was the last time you read an article all the way to the end? It’s more likely that you got just half way through the post before clicking onto the next page. It’s not surprising because we’re subjected to information overload every day.

One solution to this problem is to create an infographic: a visual alternative to plain text. Infographics take complex chunks of information (such as  data about social media use, eating habits or voting results) and translate them into easy-to-understand visuals.

Including an infographic in your next post may even boost your website traffic. But before you jump into designing your first infographic, let’s explore some important dos and don’ts.

Do: select the appropriate style of chart

Whether you’re looking to compare elements, show a transition or elaborate on a concept, it’s important to keep your intention in mind. Size, positioning and directionality will all help your reader follow along.

Don’t: mix and match graphics

Stay consistent with your images, whether you’ve chosen to use icons, cartoons or illustrations. Consistency will make your infographic appear much more professional. If you’re unable to design your own graphics, there are plenty of public domain image banks (such as Pixabay) online.

Do: incorporate white space

White space, or negative space, is the blank area surrounding your text and visuals. White space is important because it provides contrast, bringing forward the important elements of your infographic.

Don’t: overload the infographic with text

With text and graphics, one should pick up where the other leaves off. Graphics visually represent an idea, while text elaborates on why that idea matters. Striking the appropriate balance will depend on the intent of your article or blog post.

Do: consider your colour scheme

Selecting the right colours can provide context to your infographic and enhance the message you are trying to get across. A small selection of complementary colours will stand out against your white space. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of free colour scheme generators online.

Don’t: forget your audience

Who is the target audience for your infographic? What do they need and what do you want them to do with the information? Keeping your audience in mind throughout the design process will help you determine the complexity of your infographic.

Do: apply good search engine optimization (SEO) practices

Make your infographic more accessible by adding alternative text. There are a variety of reasons your reader may not be able to see the infographic. Alternative text will provide context for these readers as well as make the infographic itself searchable.  

Don’t: reinvent the wheel

There are plenty of digital templates for creating infographics so there is no need to stress if you aren’t a graphic designer. Canva, Easel.ly and Piktochart are three of many free online tools that can facilitate the design process.

With this in mind, you’re ready to start designing. Get the creative juices flowing and impress your boss with an informative infographic instead of a plain block of text.

Dos and Don'ts

Do you have any other important infographic tips? Comment below and spread the knowledge.

Lindsay Jessup has a BA Sociology from the University of Alberta and is currently studying public relations at MacEwan University. She is also an IABC volunteer and mentee. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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