What do you do when you need a piece of information quickly? Chances are, you google it. Google knows everything, which can be overwhelming when you are only looking for that “needle-in-the-haystack” tidbit of information. As Mark Smicklas, a seasoned marketing expert, says, “Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” In other words, you are going to get a lot more than you bargained for. But what does all the information mean? This is where infographics excel. They are a great way to present a lot of information in an easily digestible way.
What is an infographic?
According to Wikipedia, an infographic is just a fancy word for the “graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.” Here is an example of an infographic that introduces you basics of infographics:
Why use infographics?
There are a couple reasons why you should consider using infographics before posting a wordy essay online, either on social media or a company website. First, infographics make it easy for the user to digest information. Our brains can process visuals infinitely faster than they can process text. Not only do they process the information faster, but our brains are also more likely to remember it better. On average, people only remember roughly 20% of the information they read (yikes!). The dwindling attention span of the average Internet user also contributes to the growth of infographics. Now, more than ever before, people don’t have time (or don’t want) to read large amounts of text. Infographics, however, can disperse the important facts or findings in a time-efficient manner.
Second, infographics summarize large amounts of data into applicable statistics. Today we can find whatever data or statistics online with a simple google search, but what does it all mean? With so much data readily available, the challenge for businesses becomes a) how to interpret the information, and b) how to clearly and concisely present it despite its complexities (the latter of which is arguably the bigger challenge).
For example, I could very easily find the average gas price in PA with a quick search (The average is $2.526/gal. in case you were wondering). While that fact is good to know, an infographic might display the average gas price by state using a map where a darker blue state indicates a higher price than a lighter blue state. Suddenly, the viewer realizes that the average price in PA is higher than several of the states it borders. (The average price is $2.152 in New Jersey, $2.360 in MD, and $2.29 inOH!)
What results can you expect?
A well-designed infographic has the potential to go viral! An aesthetically pleasing yet informative visual appeals to everyone, and with the help of social media platforms can easily be liked, shared, or retweeted. Just imagine how much greater your brand awareness could be if you embedded the logo of your business into an internationally successful infographic. In time, the inforgraphic would drive more traffic to your website which should start generating more revenue, if handled correctly.
How do you create an infographic?
While infographics often look easy and effortless, a lot of planning and critical thinking goes into producing a successful visual. Often the things that look the simplest are the most difficult to create. So, here are some tips and tricks to help you get started making your own infographic.
1. Maintain a good visual-text ratio. You don’t want the graphic elements to overshadow the text, and you don’t want the text to overshadow the graphic elements. The images and words should complement each other.
2. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. Don’t try to cram every statistics and graph into one infographic. If there are too many elements, you will overwhelm the reader. Don’t be afraid to leave a little blank space! (You don’t want your infographic to end up looking like this…)
3. Keep the infographic focused. A good way to keep the visual clean and simple is to only use data or images that help convey the story. This would be like writing a paper that is half a page too short so you add some partially-related “fluff.” Infographics do not have a length requirement so you can leave the fluff out.
4. Cite your sources! Even though an infographic is not a formal way of writing, don’t forget to give credit where credit is due.
You can also try using statsilk.com or visual.ly to help you get started!
In a nutshell, infographics are a great tool to concisely represent complex information. And while they may look easy and simple, it takes someone with superb analytical skills to extract meaningful trends, and someone with a keen eye for design to format them. If done correctly, however, infographics have the potential to take your business to the next level.
Good luck and happy infographic-ing!