Best (and Worst) Practices for Infographics

Infographics article

Have you ever seen an infographic that’s too much graphic and not enough info? You look through it and when you get to the next page you realize, there was nothing useful to take away from.

Infographics are not a new form of presentation for data, but they have had a major increase in popularity online.

With this uptick in popularity it seems that some people don’t quite understand how to properly use an infographic, or if they should be using one at all. Just like all other representations for data, infographics have their pros and cons as well as dos and don’ts.

By following some straight forward best practices for infographics your content can be on its way to becoming one the webs great infographics.

What The Best Infographics Are Doing

The best infographics are sharable, memorable, and overall enjoyable sources of information for the reader.

This is a great infographic

Example of Good Infographic

This infographic was originally produced by ContentPlus, but shows up around the web. Click to see it in a round up of the best content marketing infographics.

There are a few aspects that specifically stand out as being really well done.

The one that jumps out immediately is the placement of all of the text. It’s designed in a way to create a story by drawing your eye through the graphic while presenting data in a very easily digestible manner.

Done right, infographics can be a powerful format for creating great content while simultaneously promoting your brand, and they can be fantastic for presenting data in a visually appealing manner while also making it easy to understand.

The most appealing infographics even have the ability to go viral on social media.

The many benefits of using infographics include:

  • Making big data digestible
  • Being visually appealing
  • Shareability
  • Increasing site traffic
  • Holding attention better than text

Fast And Easy Understanding

The entire purpose of an infographic is to visually present data in an easy to understand format. Rather than writing out large amounts of text to describe data, infographics rely on graphics that are easier to quickly understand.

By simplifying a concept down to the main facts, it is easier to understand quickly and can even be easily scanned to pull out the main points.

Easily Shared By Yourself And Others

Infographics can be shared much more easily than a written piece. They can be directly embedded in posts on social media or on other sites and have those embeds link back to the original post.

This is great because it makes it much easier to get your data in front of a large audience. Shareability also helps in getting an increase in site traffic since infographics have a higher likelihood to be shared or clicked on.

Nice Looking Graphics

Infographics are also widely used simply because they are visually appealing. A wall of text has a tendency to detract some people while a great infographic not only will catch their eye, but has a higher likelihood of peaking their interest.

While being visually appealing, infographics also allow for brand reinforcement by using colors, messaging and shapes that are consistent and fit with your brand and logo.

Get Their Attention And Hold On To It.

The average attention span of an adult is now only 8 seconds. This means that you only have 8 seconds to hook in your reader and present your data. The visual appeal of well crafted infographics are much more effective at holding someone’s attention than a large body of text.

People also are more likely to remember something that they saw than what they read. Great infographics should stick out in a reader’s mind rather than just blending into their browser history.

So Many Infographics Fall Short Of Success

Ignoring infographic best practices more often than not will lead to falling short of success.

This is a terrible infographic (possibly the worst infographic ever made):

Example of bad infographic

This example is obviously an over exaggeration of what bad infographics look like, but it contains many examples of what creates real infographic failure.

It’s cluttered, filled with pointless information, has unverified “facts,” the text is too small, it doesn’t tell a story, has irrelevant imagery, and the list of failures could go on and on.

Infographics are much like anything else on the internet: sometimes they get large numbers of shares for simply being so utterly bad.

Despite their extreme usability, many infographics end up being not up to par. So often infographics are done badly simply because the person creating them doesn’t understand how to best make them.

They may have been better to have simply written out their article.

The most common pitfalls that infographics fall victim to are:

  • They are too busy
  • A lack of direction/story arc
  • Having way too much data for one page
  • Over simplifying complicate subject matter
  • Being the wrong format for the subject
  • Not being mobile friendly

Too Many Graphics Not Enough Space

An infographic is supposed to make data easier to understand in a visually pleasing manner. What they are not supposed to do is cram as much information on a single page with all sorts of different graphics that are stepping on the toes of each other.

This is just as confusing and unappealing to a reader as large section of text. The issue becomes that it is difficult to differentiate between different pieces of information in the infographic.

There’s No Rhyme Or Reason To The Order

The problem that many infographics run into is that there is no direction for the reader. It just looks like graphics and data were splatter painted on the page and it is up to the reader to determine whether the chicken or egg came first.

Whether you are writing a text article or creating an infographic, there always needs to be a story arc of some sort. Leaving a mass of information with seemingly no order will defeat the purpose of presenting new information to a reader.

If the reader has to determine the order, that can also leave too much to interpretation for what conclusion can be pulled from the data.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Having a lot of data that you are excited to share with the world is always a great thing, but there is definitely such thing as having too much data in your infographic.

There are so many infographics out there that having overwhelming amounts of information in them; you take one look and leave the page because who’s going to try to pick through all that?

An infographic should explain a core concept with the data necessary to support it. It should not be a data dump of everything you found in your research that covers a multitude of concepts.

Sometimes Simplifying Is A Bad Idea

Some subjects and data should not be simplified. When creating an infographic, the purpose is to simplify data to be more digestible for a wider audience.

Taking really complicated data and over simplifying it can cause misunderstanding and defeat the purpose of any research done. An infographic might not be a great format to explain the intricacies of string theory. Big data sometimes needs to stay big.

Is It Really A Good Way To Present Your Data?

Always take into account that not all subject matter belongs in an infographic.

Where do you expect your data to be shared? If you aren’t aiming to have it shared on social media or on other people’s sites then you may not want to use an infographic.

You wouldn’t put a PSA for the hearing impaired on the radio, so keep in mind your subject matter and audience when creating an infographic.

Another important factor to consider is if you are working with very serious subject matter, do you expect that your data will be taken seriously enough in infographic form?

Can You See It On A Cell Phone?

Although there is still a large number of users that are on computers, 80% of internet users are using a smartphone according to Smart Insights. With that many mobile users, you should always consider mobile compatibility when creating content.

This is a major downfall for some infographics. It can be very difficult to have infographics that are mobile friendly. More often than not, infographics end up being very difficult to view on mobile devices that have small screens.

If the reader has to scroll all over the image just to see the different facts being presented, this is not the optimal experience for them.

To Infographic or Not To Infographic

It’s not so much a question as it is an important decision to make on how to present your data.

You should always start with content then determine how to present it. If you find yourself wanting to create an infographic, then hunting for content for it, it may not be a good format for your data.

If you are looking for a fun way to present your data while engaging your followers, then an infographic definitely could be a great path to take.

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Alan Meyer
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Alan Meyer


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