How to create an effective infographic: Tools and tips

Nowadays, the most effective contents in terms of marketing and communication are the visual ones, including infographics. Created to convey valuable information in an engaging visual format, they are able to engage with readers and grab their attention within seconds. In this article you can find out why infographics are a powerful and effective communication and marketing tool and why you should use them to improve your performance.

By nature, human beings tend to understand and interpret information better when presented within a visual format. As a matter of fact, about 50% of our brain is involved in visual processing and 70% of our sensory receptors are placed in the eyes.

This is why marketing and communication strategies that exploit the visual component are able to increase user engagement – keeping them glued to the screen for a long time – and awareness, thus achieving better results. Among the most used visual content today there are infographics.

In the beginning, infographics were conceived as a tool to support mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists that needed to simplify the processes of developing and communicating abstract information. They were mainly used in newspapers, scientific journals, essays and school textbooks. Instead, within today’s media landscape – in which we are submerged by a continuous flow of information and data, often difficult to interpret – infographics have assumed an increasingly powerful role also as a web marketing tool, as the visual component allows us to create a more attractive communication and to convey a message in a simpler and more pleasant way. According to Alberto Cairo, professor of infographics and information visualization at the School of Communication at the University of Miami and the University of North Carolina, the main objectives of an infographic are, in fact, to present information and allow users to explore such information.

This leaves room for another important observation: infographics are often mistakenly treated as a tool to simplify information. This practice derives mainly from how they were used in the past in mathematical-scientific dissemination. Following this practice today would instead create infographics that present superficial information. We should therefore strive to create content that does not simplify information, but that helps to understand and interpret the information correctly.

Before delving into how to create a captivating infographic for our marketing and communication strategy, let’s see some statistics in support of what we have written so far, in order to really understand the effectiveness of this tool.

Some data on infographics

As for what industry experts think, statistics show that 49% of creators consider visual content very important for their content marketing strategy and 32% of marketers consider it the winning form of content for their business.

As for the results we can obtain through infographics, statistics show that companies register a 12% increase in traffic to their site after publishing an infographic and that infographics tend to receive 3 times more shares than any other type of social media content.

So, let’s see 5 steps to structure an infographic and some useful tools to create them.

5 steps to create an infographic

1. Define the central topic and the objectives

It happens very often that, before focusing on the topic we want to deepen or the goal we’d like to achieve, we focus mainly on the look we want to give to our infographic. Nothing could be more wrong: the infographic is first of all a functional tool to communicate with and inform users on a certain topic. Therefore, let’s leave the choice of design, colours or tables to a later step.

To concretely define the object of an infographic, it is advisable to answer a series of questions – which make up the following pyramid – that will help us define the field of action around which we can build our project.

At the highest level of the pyramid, we find the main question that the infographic will have to answer. The intermediate level, on the other hand, indicates supporting questions, which allow us to provide users with more information about the central topic. Finally, at the base of the pyramid we find further questions that will give readers useful insights and will help us to further explore the central theme.

2. Collect as much information as possible

After having identified the key points that we want to cover in our infographic, we should identify as much useful information as possible, in order to fully answer the questions raised during the previous phase. The web is definitely the best place to start your research: search engines and web portals that collect datasets, including Statista and Google Trends Data Store, are the primary tools used to obtain verified information. In addition, it is also possible to directly interview industry experts to acquire data and information.

3. Data visualisation

Once that all the information has been collected, we should choose how to present it in our infographic, and therefore which graphic form we want to give to data: the choice of graphs, maps, tables and diagrams should be linked to the message we want to communicate and the goal we want to achieve. Let’s briefly see what these goals might be and the differences between visualisations.

Charts

In general, charts can be used in the presence of at least two measurement scales, in order to show similarities or differences between values or parts of a whole. If we analyse more in detail, we see that there are different types of charts with different objectives:

  • The line chart shows continuous changes in value (e.g.: time, time series). The abscissa requires a quantitative variable.
  • In the bar or column chart, the abscissa requires different categories (time, countries, etc.) and it is used to compare the variations between categories.
  • The pie chart shows the proportion between parts of a whole
  • The scatter plot or bubble chart shows the relationship between two variables.
  • The combination chart shows, within a single space, multiple scales.
  • The stacked area chart is used to compare trends over time.

Diagrams

Diagrams help us to show groups, patterns or orders. This time around, as well, there are different types of graphic shapes that fall into this category:

  • The organisational chart is used to represent the formal structure of an organisation and the hierarchical relationships between its components.
  • The flow chart is used to represent the formal structure between entities and the relationship between them (process, relationship, hierarchy, etc.). Usually, it has a beginning and an end.
  • The radar chart represents multiple variables on a plane and allows comparison between different objects.
  • The candlestick chart shows the open and close / high and low values.

Maps

Finally, maps are used to show the relationships determined by spatial arrangement. The most commonly used are geographical, political and demographic maps.

4. Structure the design elements of your infographic

After having defined all the elements that we need in order to achieve our goal, we must focus on how to organise them within an infographic: we should create a clear visual hierarchy that helps readers and guides them along a logical reading path.

Ben Shneiderman, professor of computer science and information visualization at the University of Maryland, proposed a mantra that helps create effective visualisations: Overview first, zoom and filter, then details-on-demand.

According to this principle, designers should first provide a general overview that helps the user to approach the topic; afterwards, they should present the main data; finally, allow the user to explore even the less relevant data.

Visualisation designers recommend viewing the projects as systems of rectangles of different sizes even before starting to draw charts, maps and illustrations. This way we can structure the hierarchy between the various sections that compose our infographic.

5. Add a style to your infographic design

The last step concerns the graphic look we want to give to the infographic. More specifically, this phase concerns the choice of fonts, colours, icons, symbols, images and any other element we want to include.

As for the font of the text, it is good to use no more than two different fonts: a well-readable one for the text section and a more creative one for the titles and headings. This way, we can suggest how the various sections are divided and how to read our infographic.

Regarding colour choices, it is advisable to use no more than two/three main colours and to experiment with the hues. For the background, it is advisable to choose a neutral shade, opting for more bright colours to highlight the elements in the foreground.

Last but not least, the infographic should be thought of as a visual summary, so the text should not occupy all the available space, but should be reduced to short paragraphs that summarise the main concepts.

3 useful tools for creating an infographic

The increasing amount of data available to companies and media means that infographics have become an important marketing tool in recent years. Numerous tools and online software have been developed to help marketers and designers create their own projects. Below, we list the 3 most used software to create infographics.

1. Canva

Canva is a very intuitive and user-friendly graphic design tool that provides layouts that you can use or get inspired by when creating your own projects. It has a huge choice of templates – both free and premium – that will allow us to create our infographic in just a few steps.

2. Infogram

The second tool that we recommend for creating infographics is Infogram, a free software that offers more than 200 customisable templates thanks to the drag and drop editor function, the choice of the most suitable style and colours and even the possibility of adding icons, photos, illustrations or GIFs.

3. PiktoChart

Another tool, which is very similar to Canva, is PiktoChart. It is a software that hosts predetermined templates and, at the same time, a lot of possibilities to customise styles, colours and graphics.

It’s time to get started

Now that we know the communicative potential of infographics and some of the tools that can help us creating them, we just have to start producing visual content that is not only impactful, but also highly informative. And, as Bill Gates said back in January 1996 in the article “Content is the king”, it is important – in order to be successful on the web – to dedicate oneself to content that gives readers an interesting informative contribution, but that at the same time is able to entertain them: all this is possible through infographics.

Does visual content work for your brand? Have you ever tried to include infographics in your marketing and communication strategy? Tell us about your experience in the comment section and contact us to learn more about our communication and digital marketing services.

Published by

Ilaria

Since I was a child, my school career has been driven by a passion for what I wanted to do when I was grown up. So I graduated in modern languages and cultures at the University of Pavia and now I'm studying journalism and communication at the University of Bergamo. Today I do what I like most: I work in the technical publishing industry dedicating myself in particular to social media and digital marketing at Eos Mktg&Communication, the publishing house of the international ipcm® magazines. If I had to describe myself in three words according to my hobbies and interests, I would say: globetrotter, shopaholic and motorsport-addicted.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.