It can sometimes be difficult to explain what makes a piece of art “good”, but as a famous judge once said, “I know it when I see it.” To that end, allow me to shed some light on what makes a good infographic. It seems that with each passing year, infographics are getting more traction on sites like Digg, and more and more people are looking to master the craft of marrying information with graphic design. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your next piece.
Infographics, first and foremost, are about visualizations. If it’s not pretty to look at, then trust me…no one will give it a second glance. Consider the fonts and colors you plan to use carefully. The overall look of a piece is always going to vary based on subject matter, but any given IG should be easy to read (so make sure you select complementary colors, fonts that are easy to read, and a font point that is large enough to be read without squinting).
The bottom line: If it doesn’t make you say “Wow” when you look at it, it’s probably not attractive enough.
The best infographics are grounded in hard data. Not only should you have copious sources to review before creating your IG, but you also need to make sure that your statistics and facts come from a reliable source.
Oh, and if you are referencing data that’s more than 18 months old, try and drum up some new data sources (or conduct your own research, gather some proprietary data, and go from there).
The bottom line: Infographics are like loaves of bread. The fresher the ingredients, the better it will be received by your consumers.
3. Clever Visualizations
Go beyond the pie chart, beyond the bar graph. The best infographics are the ones that present data and information in a way that surprises you, and yet makes perfect sense.
The bottom line: If you want to stand out from the crowd, push the envelope.
4. Point of View
One thing that often distinguishes a good infographic from a great infographic is a thesis, or at least a strong point of view. If an infographic can not only impress you with the quality of its design, but also educate and persuade you, it’s an exceptional piece of work.
The bottom line: Anyone can find research online. It takes thoughtful craftsmanship to review that data and compile a design with a distinct point of view.
5. Location, Location, Location
Nothing bugs me more than seeing a great infographic hosted on a site that has nothing to do with the subject matter of the piece. For example, a little while back I stumbled upon a great flowchart about what sort of sci-fi apocalypse you would be best suited for (zombies, alien invasion, etc). I really enjoyed it, until I got to the end and saw the company that had branded their logo on to this piece. Suffice it to say, it was a company that didn’t really have anything to do with the subject matter. It really rubbed me the wrong way.
The bottom line: The URL where you are planning to host the infographic is just as important as the infographic itself.
Viral content is too interesting NOT to share. The ideal response you are looking to elicit from your reader is, “Oh, awesome! I have got to show this to my friends!” To do that, you need a combination of great design
Oh yeah, and don’t forget the embed code, badges, Twitter/Facebook buttons, and anything else you can do to make sharing the piece as easy as possible.
The bottom line: To create a successful infographic, you have to make sure as many people as possible are exposed to your work.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but there are still some common threads that unite all successful infographics. But nothing I can say will sum up what makes a good IG more eloquently than this Venn Diagram, created by David McCandless of Information is Beautiful.