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How to Create the Perfect Infographic

creating the perfect infographic

In a presentation, tables and charts can be dangerous. Use too many, and you’re likely to leave your audience bored, tired or confused.

Infographics can help solve this problem. When executed well, an infographic can turn complex data into a story that’s entertaining and easy to understand. Here are some tips on how to design the ideal infographic — one that’s clever, creative and clearly gets your message across.

Study the content carefully

Resist the temptation to start designing your infographic before you thoroughly understand the content it contains. Study all data, charts, graphics and copy closely. Get a firm grasp on the narrative you want to tell and how you want to tell it. If you’re dealing with a particularly complex topic, it’s a good idea to contact a subject matter expert — or the person that supplied your data — and talk through some ideas for presenting the information.

Apply visual storytelling principles

Visual storytelling is about using all the design elements in your chart (or slide) to help support the larger story in your data. This means removing unnecessary elements, ensuring that the ones you do include are purposeful, and considering how each design choice you make contributes to understanding the infographic.

Use scale to communicate

Our brains are remarkably adept at absorbing and analyzing visual information. In an infographic, you can use that ability to your advantage. For example, if you have a data point that’s three times larger than another data point, make the distinction visible by using a font size that’s three times as large. You’ll get your point across faster than if you were to only use words.

Create a visual hierarchy

Establishing a visual hierarchy within an infographic will make it easy for your audience to parse through data and see the big picture. Use scale, brightness, color and position to assign prominence to different pieces of information and guide the eye of your viewer from start to finish. If you don’t do this, your viewer is likely to get lost in a sea of information.

Apply color strategically

Color can serve as a powerful tool for differentiating information — but it needs to be wielded carefully. Use too many colors, and you’ll create visual noise that confuses the viewer. Often, it’s best to start with a restricted palette and then use a splash of color to establish a focal point or bring attention to a particular point. You can use different hues, but just be deliberate in your choices.  

Say more with less

Too much text in an infographic is a turn off for your viewer. Try to distill copy down to its most basic essence. For example, instead of writing out the months of the year, you might turn them into three-letter abbreviations. That said, beware of using too many acronyms or industry jargon. The goal is to make your viewer understand, at a glance, what you’re trying to say.

Design for scannability

A “scannable” design is one that the audience can easily grasp at a glance. Essentially it’s the result of applying all the rules we listed above: a focus on the content, a clear hierarchy, purposeful use of color, and a simple design that doesn’t muddle the message. This is a great test to check your work: after applying the other rules, you can assess the results by asking whether it is scannable or not. If yes, great work! If not, you can work back through the steps above to help clear up any ambiguities in your infographic.

For more on scannable data visualizations, check out this video blog.

Update (02/24): we’ve revised this article to add some new insights into infographic design

Looking for more information about presentations and beyond? Check out our resources for expert advice and tested strategies.

About the author

Danielle John is the founder of VerdanaBold. She has more than 25 years as an award-winning designer and creative lead, directing the visual expression and production of thousands of high-value new business pitches, C-level presentations and internal presentations for major global brands. When she’s not busy at VerdanaBold, she can be found antique shopping and spending time with her husband and two kids.



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