How to Create the Best Infographics

I’m sure you’ve noticed infographics as you go through your daily life.  They’re popping up in magazines and online, and if you watch a documentary these days infographics are impossible to avoid. An infographic, a visual representations of information including data, is a great way to emphasize a point or explain a concept, and they can be very effecting in helping to spread your message.  But what makes a good infographic, and how do you make one?  After working along side the folks at GOOD and creating infographics for several years, I have outlined some best practices. 

Any infographic has to give a clear message and explain the information it contains.  A good infographic:

  • Starts with understanding the desired message, and the audience.
  • Creates a clear picture of the data.  Great infographics at the most basic level are data-visualizations. They are successful when the data can compare X vs Y,  A% vs B%, growth over time...etc. Data needs to be verifiable, sourced and annotated.
  • Has a strong creative concept.  For example, use a wheel of cheese to tell a story about dairy production, or a mock subway map to tell a story about public transit. Neither of these are earth-shatteringly innovative examples.  A creative idea is great, but don’t let the message get lost in the artistic concept.  An infographic must immediately connect with the audience, and good design is not louder than the message is it meant to deliver.
  • Is created by an talented illustrator or graphic designer.  The backgrounds, icons, charts and character sets in an infographic are usually created by an illustrator, although an assembly of photos can be used as well.
  • Is assembled and managed by a single point person.  The images, data, text and approvals should all pass through the point person, to streamline the process and ensure the infographic keeps the intended message set out at the beginning of the process.
  • Includes a strategy for dissemination online.   Planning for the launch of an infographic usually includes a blog post or article that gives context and elaborates on the message of the infographic .  Infographics should have a smaller browser version and the ability to click to view a larger version.  Buttons to share on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, etc., enable easy sharing, but don’t depend solely on social media sharing.  It’s important to have a plan for sending out the final product to as many outlets as possible. 

Here are a few examples of effective infographics: (This one is interactive after you click to open the larger image.)

Why Are Students Not Finishing School and At What-Cost 

Car Land - A Century of Motoring in America

On Currency - A Latte Exchange