Infographics have been popular on the web for a while now, but are risking reaching a saturation point as many sites have begun to overly rely on them. Unfortunately the large number of unnecessary and poorly designed infographics out there have begun to give this normally elegant means of communicating information a bad name and it’s the bloggers who have a genuine need for them that are suffering as a result.
The solution though is not to abandon infographics altogether, but rather to simply learn what makes a good infographic and what makes a bad one. By using the right design principles and being careful to avoid common mistakes, you can make sure that your graphics buck the trend and elevate your site rather than damaging it. Here we will look at some of the things that make great infographics work…
The Right Use
The first thing that will decide the effectiveness of your infographic is how and where you use it. Some articles can benefit greatly from this feature, but others simply aren’t well suited to them and knowing the difference is key.
The best way to know whether or not you need an infographic is to ask yourself whether it was born out a genuine desire to improve the article, or whether it was shoehorned in because you know infograhpics sell. The images are used best you see when you don’t see another method of easily communicating all the information that you want to convey in your article. If your article is comprised of lots of heavy facts and statistics then you may notice that they begin to bog your content down and make it inaccessible – and it’s at this point that you should then consider introducing an infographic as an accompanying aid for your readers.
But of course, having lots of data to convey doesn’t alone necessitate an infographic– as you could probably just as easily use a graph or chart for that same end. An infographic then should be used to convey information that has a particularly ‘narrative’ element – whether that means you’re telling the story of a company’s development over the years, or showing the landscape of a particular industry.
This works well for an infographic because it allows your readers to be taken through the information progressively almost like a story. This way they can get a better sense of context and see how everything fits together in an entertaining manner – rather than just seeing a grid or two with some lines on it.
Of course an infographic is also a picture and as such should fulfil some of the same criteria as any image you might choose for your website. That means for example that it should be attractive to look at and should match the look and feel of the page it is on. Try searching ‘beautiful data’ in Google Images and you will see some of the creative and beautiful ways that information can be conveyed. If you employ some of these more imaginative elements then you can avoid people seeing your site and saying ‘not another infographic’ – instead they’ll see it and be blown away and intrigued to read more. Why make your data look like a dry bar chart when it could look like a dramatic explosion of particles?
Perhaps the worst crime that an infographic can commit however is condescending to its audience. Too often infographics are seen as a way to make complicated information ‘simple’, which isn’t what most visitors actually want. While you want to make the information stand out and make it intuitive, don’t make it look too much like it belongs in a children’s textbook or you will put off visitors. Credit your traffic with the ability to read charts and to work out some slightly more complex forms of information – this can actually be part of the fun if you do it well.