A wave of infographics has hit the Internet. In this sea of visual information, how can one decide what differentiates a good infographic from a bad one? How can you decide whether or not to make an infographic of your own?
Surprise Your Readers
I believe the best infographics change readers’ perspectives. The infographic below – about the relationship between fitness and intelligence – shifted my perspective when I read it.
Stereotypically, many people in the United States think exercise has little to do with being an “A” student. For people who have demanding jobs, there can even be social pressure not to exercise.
This infographic from Classes and Careers shows that exercise improves mental performance throughout one’s life.
Think in Terms of Graphics, Not Words
Here’s an infographic which is too text-heavy. The organization which created it, FitnessHealthZone, has put lengthy explanations in the infographic rather than pulling out key statistics and diagramming them.
Use Design to Make Your Points Clear
Present information in ways that make sense to readers and lead them through your thought process.
Would you start a PowerPoint presentation with your last slide? Probably not. Expect your reader’s eye to travel through the infographic in sequence. Treat the infographic as a presentation that starts at the top of the page. Use design to draw readers’ attention to the sequence of ideas you want them to see.
The following infographic from Health Science should begin with images about the health impacts of sugar. Because it omits them, it is much less persuasive than it would be otherwise. Also, one of the diagrams implies that 44 percent of an individual fruit drink contains juice rather than showing that 44 percent of all fruit drinks contain juice.
Motivate Action by Focusing on Impacts
If you’re going to use an infographic to encourage readers to take political action, it’s especially important that you motivate them to do so. The fruit drink infographic focuses on documenting advertising dollars while omitting most of the health concerns. The advertising dollars aren’t the main problem – the health consequences are.
Make Recommended Actions Easy to Do
Asking a relatively passive online audience to push legislators for regulation of fruit drinks may not be realistic. A link to a petition might be a better option.
The personal actions shown below – drinking water and reading ingredient lists – are likely to appeal to parents and shoppers.
The infographic about vegetables and exercise suggests many easy actions but doesn’t present them in a graphic format.
Use Contrast and Humor
The exercise and intelligence infographic uses contrasts to show the effects of different types of exercise.
The fruit drink infographic is the best example of contrast and humor in this post. Its use of mustaches to represent misbehaving beverages is catchy. The calorie comparison between fruit drinks and chicken legs is also well done.
Find Online Design Tools
Are you interested in making your own infographics? Try visiting Visual.ly. Makeuseof has reviewed a few other tools. .Net Magazine has a tutorial which outlines some of the ideas I’ve included above but doesn’t focus on motivation, logical flow and action as much as I did in this post.