Six Steps to Creating Successful Infographics
Given a topic and a set of data to work from, it’s easy to let your mind flood with great ideas for your narrative and visuals – but the first step should actually be backward, not forward.
Who will you be talking to? Is the end user a researcher within the field that understands industry jargon or a casual viewer who needs more prompting?
How will the information be utilized? Is the infographic emphasizing data for research points, selling a product or positioning a brand as a thought leader?
What is the purpose? Do you want to emphasize a specific factoid, highlight a step in a process, position a brand as a thought leader, or create a “call to action”.
What key point you are trying to emphasize and how does the data support that. Don’t get distracted or tempted to attempt to emphasize more than one key data element. Data can tell lots of stories…pick one. Don’t try to say too much in one graphic or the main point will be lost.
When building a narrative around data, remember: it’s not the amount of data that is important but instead, what data to emphasize and what to leave-out.
You want to create a simple and impactful infographic that creates “a moment” utilizing emotions such as surprise, enlightenment, opportunity or fear. This can be done by guiding your viewer on a visual journey of carefully chosen data points.
The ultimate goal of your narrative is to visualize data patterns and put them into perspective. Visualizing data can show hidden trends too small to detect. It can also show missed patterns that exist on such a massive scale that they are too large to perceive until put into numerical values.
The infographic is successful, if the data is presented in a precise flow, aiding the in the comprehension of key information. Success relies upon a strong and clear data flow.
Developing a precise work flow of the data ensures the integrity of the data remains intact. By concentrating on the structure first, the data controls the graphic rather than the visual design.
As you’re developing flow concepts, keep asking: is this structure making the data easier to understand? It is tempting to put design over function. The graphic has failed if the audience needs to work to discover purpose of graphic and its data.
Visualizing data aids in the display of subject matter in a way that a spreadsheet or text cannot. The infographic should free the data from the constraints of a table and present it in a format that reveals hidden trends and highlights key points.
As a data designer, the job is to make data easier to understand, not to simply make the data look beautiful. The key is to strike a balance between creating something helpful and creating stunning artwork.
Successful visual representation of data should always be:
• Visually Appealing
Wireframing is standard practice in the User Experience (UX) world and is also relevant in any creative process. It encourages the designer to focus solely on the data structure. Working with limited color and using simple shapes forces the designer to think about the data, and the best way to present it in a clear, concise and simplified manner.
Wireframing provides time to explore. Exploration of concepts and feedback is important in the early stages to determine the clearest way of presenting the data to your audience, and wireframing is remarkably conducive to this iterative process.