7 Guidelines for Creating Infographics
People remember ten percent of what they hear, twenty percent of what they read, and eighty percent of what they see and do. So, if you want to make information memorable, make it something the audience sees and does rather than something they hear or read.
But wait: there are rules to follow before you load up some chart maker software. Building infographics is an art form these days, and if you want to create one that people will stop and read, you must do it correctly.
Make one major point
Ideally, the entire infographic should serve to deliver a single, consistent message. Consider it a story: it's told using data and visual metaphors, but the structure remains the same.
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The hook comes first: creating infographics worth reading is meant to illuminate some fact or lead the viewer to a conclusion they would not have reached otherwise.
Use simple primary colour combinations
Another thing you can learn from road signs is colour palette design: they use as few colours as possible, they're all eye-catching primaries, and there's a clear logic to how they choose them.
Yellow indicates that you should take notice. You should probably look at this, orange. Stop what you're doing and read this right now, Red. When it comes to conveying data, colours should be simple, arranged by importance, and with a clear sense of which colour means what.
Allow some breathing room
Whitespace—or negative space, if yours isn't white—is an essential component of good design. Contrary to popular belief, a cluttered infographic is not a good infographic. You must choose which information to display based on your premise, and use negative space to guide your reader from point to point until they reach the conclusion.
The amount of space around each design element assists your reader in deciding what to read first and then how to read the rest of the infographic. Elements surrounded by negative space will stand out from the rest of the document and appear more important—or, at the very least, appear to lead off in a different, more interesting direction than elements closer to the rest of the group.
One of the most important applications of negative space is to ensure that your elements are properly aligned. This will go a long way towards structuring your data, which is an important part of convincing your readers that the information has a point and demonstrating the pattern you want them to see in it.
Balance and harmony are important in infographics, perhaps more than in many other forms of media. Do you want your reader to be overwhelmed or bored by a wall of information? You absolutely do not. So get rid of anything that has the potential to do that and replace it with a big old slab of nothing. Your readers will appreciate it.
Select three high-quality fonts
Text should be kept to a minimum when creating an infographic. In any case, too much text defeats the purpose. Titles, headings, and a few clever captions are fine, but otherwise, leave it out. People do not read articles by clicking on infographics.
The title is an excellent place to incorporate an eye-catching font that serves as a visual metaphor for your data. Just make sure it doesn't detract from the information you're trying to emphasise. Your body font should then be simple and readable. Decorative fonts should only be used for headers. Nothing says "noob mistake" like not using a simple, readable font for body text.
Finally, there's the "accent" font, which you'll most likely use for captions and subheadings. This should be somewhere in the middle. You don't want a highly decorative font, but you also don't want something too simple.
Check your fonts both on the computer screen and on paper because sometimes what looks great onscreen doesn't translate as well to print documents, Dummies.com advises if your graphic will appear both online and in print.
Keep in mind the cost of exclusive fonts. There are plenty of free ones—DaFont is surprisingly good for this, and many other sites have "freebies"—but keep in mind that if a client insists on a high-quality custom one, they may have to pay anywhere from $30 to several hundred dollars for it. And don't forget to bill for it.
By the way, our friends at HubSpot have created a cool invoice template. You can customise and download professional invoices to send to your customers for free.
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