By Justin Beegel published July 19, 2012

Key Steps for Creating Truly Effective Infographics

creating truly effective infographics, CMIInfographics can be a very powerful way of establishing a company as the go-to resource for a certain arena. An effective infographic mixes truly valuable information with glamorous, eye-catching images that captivate an audience. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned veteran at recruiting infographic designers, these tips can help you transform your approach for driving traffic to your brand.

Don’t treat infographics like they are ads 

First and foremost, an infographic is not an advertisement. It’s not even a stepchild of an advertisement — there is no relationship, and it shouldn’t be treated like one. Infographics are designed to bring value to a customer. Some people read infographics without any prior information on the given topic, so they’re vulnerable to what they’re reading. (In other words, this is their first impression of the topic. If you play your cards right, you have a new fan; if you don’t, you’ve jaded their view of not only your company, but the industry or subject as a whole.) If, even for a second, your audience feels like they’re being sold, they’ll click on to the next site faster than you can say “data visualization.”

Instead of implementing lame advertisements within the graphic, focus on providing true value to the customer so they’ll want to find out more. When a customer views an infographic, he should be gaining value in the form of learning something he was not previously aware of, something entertaining and interesting. The information has to resonate with readers in some way, rather than selling to them. Imagine that: Attract an audience by giving them something they need, and you won’t have to pitch a product — your audience will essentially do the work for you by researching more deeply and finding the company that brought them this wonderful piece of information.

The process 

There are two fundamental mistakes I see companies make every day as they attempt to fill their infographic needs. First, companies will often try to rely solely on graphic designers to create an infographic. But a truly effective infographic can only be created through a combined effort from researchers, storytellers, editors, and designers.

Secondly, many graphic designers don’t have all of the specific skill sets required for executing the full infographic process. To design an effective infographic, the designer must use multiple parts of the brain. Many graphic designers think solely from an aesthetic point of view. Infographic designers tend to be able to think aesthetically, while also thinking quantitatively and analytically.

Here’s how the most effective infographic process works:

  1. Research: Finding viable information for the topic at hand is the first and most crucial step. Without the correct information, your infographic is simply an eye-catching graphic on a page. Sure, it may be nice to look at, but you’re not creating it to look “nice” — you’re creating it to inform an audience. A research team will analyze all of the important information available and hand it off to the creative minds. When looking for information, make sure to pull from highly reputable sources. It is always best to make sure that the information is coming from an original source. Most importantly, stay away from citing Wikipedia. Wikipedia can be a great starting point for research by sifting through cited resources at the bottom of each article, but do not use the site as anything more than a reference point.
  2. Storytelling: You have the most pertinent statistics (thanks to your researchers), but now you must bring them to life. Turn the numbers into a short text that will captivate and provide clarity to an audience. People need the information, but they won’t sift through a manual to find it. What they will be drawn to is short prose that delivers information creatively and effectively. This step is where the right and left sides of the brain unite to present an informative and fun graphic.
  3. Editing: Too much of a good thing leads to ruins. Your team could spend hours upon hours creating an eye-catching infographic with an abundance of statistics, but if it takes five minutes to scroll through, you’ve lost your audience. Infographics are designed to cater to those of us with short attention spans who need the basic information now. It’s an editor’s job to condense the research and storytelling work into a window that will grab the audience’s attention, but stops short of showing off everything. Leave them craving more, and you will see the truth behind the concept of “less is more.”
  4. Designing: The design team has the privilege of looking at the pieces of a puzzle and putting it all together to create a masterpiece. People initially gravitate toward an infographic because of the colors, the graphics, and the pizazz that pops off the page. They think, “How cool does this look?” Imagine what truly valuable information, coupled with good-looking graphics, can do for a company. It’s the full package of brains and beauty. When starting a new graphic, look back at other infographics your company or other companies have created. Critique what was successful and what needs work. It is important to know what your readership likes. By taking into account past successes and failures, you will have a good starting platform when brainstorming creative ideas for your new project.

Outsourcing = $$$ / In-House Work = $$$$$$ 

Of obvious concern when it comes to creating infographics is how much a business owner must spend for this kind of service, and whether effective infographics can be created in-house, or if they require outsourced expertise. I’ve lost count of how many clients have told me they spent much more trying to reproduce the quality of work that we bring, only to fail — which results in a waste of money and time.

Remember, most companies use one design team for every graphics job they have. The additional burden of creating a detailed, informative infographic can place enormous pressure on a small team. They’re being pulled in so many directions for multiple jobs that it can be impossible to devote 100 percent focus to a specific task.

In contrast, infographic design companies do one thing and one thing only: design infographics. Hiring an infographic design team assures clients that the job will be done with the utmost care, and full attention will be afforded to the task at hand.

To create a truly effective infographic, each of the above steps is necessary. Infographics are the gateway to endless possibilities, and many times, they’re the first impression a potential client receives. Welcome your audience with an attractive infographic and provide real value for them, and you will reap the benefits of your investment in this truly rewarding process.

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Author: Justin Beegel

Justin Beegel is the Founder and President of Infographic World, a data visualization company specializing in the creation of visually stunning infographics to help companies communicate their message in a more impactful manner.

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  • http://allmarketingsolutions.co.uk/social-media-marketing-services Ayaz

    Hi Justin!

    Great post and It came out at the right time as I was looking for infographic image and you have described it in detail and how it can be done. 

    Thanks for great tips.

  • Pieter Heytens

    Thanks for the article! Good and solid basics of infographs method. 

  • http://marketingdr.blogspot.com/ Don Roy

     Thanks for sharing your ideas, Justin. Infographics are all the rage today in large part because of their visual appeal, but your recommendations keep “info” a priority.