Before a project reaches a designer’s desk, it usually has been through a number of other steps to ensure that the process is effortless and that the end result is as effective as possible. A project launch is often followed by creative briefs and concepting, and from there, the content is finalized. All of these steps prepare the material for an effective translation into the visual infographic space. To keep the design choices in line with the project goals, it’s important to consider all aspects of your artistic choices and think with your end goal in mind.
Match Content with Visuals
Visual communication is all about conveying meaning quickly alongside (or in lieu of) words. In infographics, this means that your visualizations should be as “readable” as text: illustrations or data visualizations need to support and advance every point of the accompanying copy. This is essential so that if a viewer skims the piece, they will still gather the same conclusions as though they had read it.
Tip: Choose the right visualizations
Example: Numbers or data generally lend themselves to data visualizations such as graphs or charts — but that’s not always the case. If your content identifies a very large number (e.g.: 5,000 apples) or a very small number (e.g.: 1% of the apple orchard), quantagrams or pie charts won’t necessarily do your data justice — the impact will get lost. Keep a critical eye on what you’re visualizing so that how you visualize it works to its best advantage.
Keep It Clear
Even though illustrations need to be detailed enough to convey meaning, they also have to be easily understood — clarity is a primary design goal when it comes to infographics. Clean and clear designs will provide better understanding of complicated material to target viewers.
Tip: Make room for white space
Example: Just as how a clean desk can help a clear mind, the same applies — eliminating clutter will let the visuals take prominence. Matching a spacious layout with selective use of icons and illustrations — or the level of detail within each — will help to refine the final product while meeting your audience’s expectations.
Tell a Story
The most compelling presentation for your reader often will involve building a story, and it’s possible that the text will support that narrative development. If, however, the content is structured in such a way that divides material into sections, consider using color or visual cues to create transitions or links between points, which will create a subliminal narrative.
Tip: Direct the eye and color code
Example: Visual cues such as arrows can create a clear transition between sections. If you’re looking for subtlety, color shifts can create movement — even if you’re not using the whole rainbow, advancing from red to yellow to green (for example) will indicate a progression that can transfer to the ideas behind it. Alternatively, a repeated color throughout a project will create connections, linking previously disparate ideas. Using shades of color or different textures can build consistency or emphasis within a design — just make sure any treatments align with your brand.
To think like an infographic designer, you have to keep your eye focused on what’s at stake: clear communication. Every visual moment should have a point that contributes to the overall interpretation of the piece. Within those visual choices, cues and connections will build a subliminal meaning or narrative for your reader. The infographic should have a higher impact with an effective design put into place, increasing the reach into your target audience — and you may even expand your audience in ways you didn’t expect!
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