Across the board, infographics have gone from buzzword to viral, valuable marketing tool. There are many different types of infographics, but several dos and don’ts consistently hold true. Effective infographic design utilizes dynamic eye flow, and clear points of focus, and engaging data visualization where appropriate, in order to teach a viewer something quickly and in a highly visual way. If a layout is too cluttered, hard to follow, or visually confusing at first glance it is much less likely that it will pack the same punch. This blog post will touch on some best practices for infographic layout.
An image search for the word “infographics” will quickly reveal some of the most common layout mistakes. For example, you might see several designs that try to pack in too much information. While the goal of an infographic is to teach something to your viewers, you don’t want to try to teach them too much. Composing your infographic with a wide variety of subject matter can make the story harder to follow, which will quickly disengage the viewer..
Another commonly made mistake? Too much text in the design. Since an infographic is meant to be a visual aid, having blocks of text immediately makes them less effective because the viewer has to stop and read the text to understand the piece.
Lastly, many infographics lack organization and eyeflow. The reader should be able to intuitively navigate the infographic in a way that makes sense with the story. Try guiding the reader’s eyes with visual cues (like arrows) or by compartmentalizing the information. Knowing to avoid these errors from the beginning should start you off on the right foot when planning your design.
Once you’ve gotten a clear idea of your intentions for the infographic, it’s time to begin building out the content and the layout of the piece. There are a few things you should keep in mind at this stage.
First, the types and variety of visualization you can include will be completely dependent on the content. Spending extra time upfront in the research phase is the best way to hone in on your subject matter and find an engaging angle that can be backed up with compelling data. When it comes to actually laying out the information, there are a few things to remember:
- Don’t be afraid of white space. Your piece does not need to be completely covered in illustration and stats. In fact, this can be highly overwhelming for the viewer. Visual breaks are pleasing to the eye and allow you to call attention to the important stats more clearly.
- Remember the organization we talked about before: use illustration as a tool to dictate eyeflow. Color changes, leading lines, and other wayfinding elements in an illustrated scene that guide the flow of the infographic are all easy ways to do this.
- Finally — remember — consistency is crucial. Don’t try to utilize too many different fonts, type treatments, or colors. A good way to accomplish this is to establish an art direction for yourself before you begin designing the piece. By setting these parameters for yourself, you’ll avoid creating a design that feels chaotic and confusing. Instead, you’ll end up with one that feels unified and cohesive.
Luckily, there are also plenty of things you can do to ensure that your infographic is effective. Our first tip is to keep it simple — one story is better and more effectively communicated than multiple stories. If your subject matter is complex and esoteric, it may be best to break the content into multiple infographics, or significantly simplify it to create more of a high-level explanation. If you can’t fit it all into an infographic, there are other ways to utilize this content as well.
Second, show — don’t tell.The most effective infographics are the ones that would still tell the same story even if all of its text were removed. Choose illustrations and data visualizations that engage the viewer and are easy to understand at a glance. Finally, be creative with your data visualization. Don’t go too far off the rails, however. You’ll want the visuals to make sense in and out of context.
When it comes down to it, shaping your infographic layout is all about recognizing how to best tell your story to your audience. By narrowing your subject’s focus, keeping the layout clean and organized, and using visuals to explain the content and guide the reader through the piece, you are well on the way to designing an effective, educational infographic.
For more information on maximizing your infographic’s potential, check out our blog post on compelling data visualization here.