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5 Tips for Creating Successful Data-Driven Infographics - 8/13/2013 -

Everyone loves a great infographic, but here's some advice to make sure yours are truly effective.

By Amanda Jennison

Infographics have gotten a lot of attention in today’s business climate, and for good reason. An infographic can effectively educate your audience and convey your message in an interesting and unique way that sticks in your audience’s mind. Here are five tips for creating a successful infographic.

Decide which type of infographic will best meet your communication goals. There are eight main types of infographics to choose from. A hybrid of two could be appropriate depending on the message you want to share. Discover the eight main types of infographics outlined in this article.

  • How-to (Process oriented)
  • Research Results
  • Compare & Contrast
  • Did You Know?
  • Demographics
  • Advocacy
  • Timeline
  • Tips

Every infographic should include three basic features. Plan for your infographic to have each one.

  1. Visuals — colors and graphics to grab your audience’s attention.
  2. Content — statistics and facts that you gather from research, census data, news reports, etc.
  3. Knowledge — insight into the data being presented to your audience.

Appeal to human visual nature. Humans are visual beings. We receive input from all five senses, but we receive significantly more information from vision than any of the other four because 50 percent of the human brain is dedicated to visual functions, and images are processed faster than text. It’s also estimated that 65 percent of the population are visual learners. Infographics cater to this large percentage and your content is more likely to be retained if it is displayed in a visually stimulating way.

Reach new audiences. For complex processes, systems, or data, infographics can be a tool to educate your audience. An entire business process or industry sector can be made more relevant to a new audience. Your subject matter is more accessible if the infographic primes the reader for your content. Use the design of the infographic as guidance by leading the reader’s eye and then link to the complete information or data.

Effectively communicate. Every infographic should address the three necessities of communication. If your infographic speaks to each one, then you can bet you’re effectively communicating with your audience.

  1. Appeal — The communication needs to engage its audience.
  2. Comprehension — Your audience should be able to easily understand the information that is presented to them.
  3. Retention — Your audience should remember the data presented in the infographic.

To sum up the importance of using visual thinking as you display information, here’s a quote from Edward R. Tufte, a pioneer in data visualization, who writes in his book "Envisioning Information:”

"The world is complex, dynamic, multidimensional; the paper is static, flat. How are we to represent the rich visual world of experience and measurement on mere flatland?”

It’s a great idea to keep tabs on all of the best infographics you come across; you can find the ones we like most in our Pinterest account. Also, check out this infographic we’ve created, For the Love of Digital Publishing, with the latest facts on digital publishing.

Amanda Jennison is marketing specialist for Bates Creative Group.


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