There is an art to infographics. In order to make information graphically appealing as well as easy to understand, there are some basic steps you need to follow.
Step 1: Outline the goals
Before you start thinking about the graphic side of things, you need to know the goals of your infographic. What is it for? Who are your readers? What do you want to achieve through this infographic. Your goals must be clear, achievable and precise.
Define the burning problem
Recognize that you’re creating this infographic so that your audience can gain something very specific from reading it. That very specific thing should be a burning problem that your audience has in their lives, and that your infographic is going to solve.
Turn the burning problem into at least 3-4 questions – supporting questions (information-based or factual) and problem questions (insightful and probing). These questions will become the framework around which you’ll build your infographic and will help you tell a compelling story. The supporting questions should reveal the basic information your audience will need to know to understand the main topic, and the probing questions that will reveal broader insights which should ultimately solve the burning problem.
Step 2: Collect necessary data
To answer the questions in Step 1, you will need data.
If you do not have data from own findings, you can obtain public data from various legitimate sites such as
- Government-related sites
- Google Trends Datastore: Curated datasets from the Google News Lab
- Google Scholar: A user-friendly search engine for academic publications
- Data is Plural: A curated list of interesting, topical datasets, updated weekly
- AggData: Business locational data
- Cool Datasets: A self-proclaimed “place to find cool datasets”
- Statista: Market research
Step 3: Visualize the collected data
When you reach this step, it means you have the question and answers ready for visual presentation. There are several ways to present your data, depending whether your goal is
to inform, reveal relationships, compare or organize.
You want to present information/data that doesn’t require much context to understand. For added emphasis, add an icon next to the information/data.
Examples shown below:
- use a bar chart, column chart, bubble chart, or bubble cloud.
- use a pie chart, donut chart, pictograph, or tree map.
- use a stacked bar chart or stacked column chart.
- use a stacked area chart.
If you want to show groups, patterns, rank or order, use
- a list to show rank or order when you want to provide extra information about each element.
- a table to show rank or order when you want readers to be able to look up specific values.
- a flowchart to show order in a process.
- simple boxes or borders to show organized groups (as seen in Venn diagrams and mind maps).
Otherwise, show rank or order with a bar chart, column chart, bubble chart, or pyramid chart.
Step 4: Layout the elements for design
It is time to put your organized data into layout. Your goal must be seen. Carry them through the journey of your storytelling.
Create a natural information flow
Your burning problem should be the header – eye-catching. Then, follow up with the charts that address the “supporting questions”, and then guide readers to the charts that address the “probing questions”.
- Use a grid layout to add structure and balance to your infographic
- Predefined symmetrical grid is an easy tactic that can be useful when designing the infographic. Important note: We read from left to right and top to bottom – it can be used to direct your reader’s gaze from element to element.
- Use a centered, single-column layout for content with a linear flow:
- Use a two-column layout to make comparisons. Below is an example of a comparison infographic:
- Use a multi-section layout when reading order is less important:
- Use minimal infographic template with 4 or 5 sections:
Step 5: Pick your colours wisely
Colour plays an important role in design. However, colours are often used with purpose – whether to coordinate with the logo of a company or for emphasis. Here are ways on how colours are used:
- Use colour to highlight important information:
- Use colour to group information/data:
- Use neutrals for composition:
For help in colour combinations, just go online and search. As you create more infographics, you will learn to appreciate the importance of design to the human mind. Compare your collection of infographics and identify which are the most effective and figure out why, based on what you read here.