Have you ever seen an amazing infographic and wanted to create one yourself? If so, keep reading for the what, why and how of infographics…
If you’re not so worried about the nitty gritty detail, feel free to skip to this video where I demonstrate an infographic design in Canva.
Firstly, what is an infographic?
The word infographic originated in the 1970’s as a blend of information and graphic and according to Lexico.com, it is ‘a visual representation of information or data, e.g. as a chart or diagram’. You will often see them featured on websites, blogs and social media platforms as a strategy to communicate information in a visually engaging way.
Why should you use one?
Quite simply, images naturally draw our attention, and can quickly communicate large amounts of information in a powerful way.
As a communication tool, infographics are useful for highlighting or summarising key information provided in the written content of a page, or to convey extra information that is not already mentioned in the text. They can also be valuable for representing data-heavy scientific or technical information in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand manner.
So, if you think an infographic will suit your purpose, how do you go about creating one?
Identify your Target Audience
One of the most important aspects of successful design is knowing who your target audience is. It’s important to be specific here. As with any other content you publish, there will always be people outside of your defined target audience who engage with your work, but choosing templates, colours and images that are most likely to appeal to your specific audience is crucial. At every stage of the design process, make sure you consider exactly what will be appealing to, and provide value for, your audience!
Gather the Most Important Information
Before you begin the visual design process, you will need to have a clear idea of the information you want to convey. During the research phase, make sure you check that your sources are credible and note their details so you can cite them. Once you’ve found your source/s, type out some dot points of the key information that you want to include in your infographic. Make sure you highlight only the most important bits; an infographic with too much text will be overwhelming and hard to read! It’s also important to be focused, here. Narrow your topic as much as possible. If there’s too much to fit in, you could provide multiple infographics to communicate different parts of the data or choose another medium that is better suited to conveying more information (such as video).
Choose a Template Design
Unless you are a trained graphic designer, it’s likely that choosing a ready-made infographic template will make the design process much more streamlined. Canva has lots of templates to choose from and is an excellent option for beginners. I also like some of the options at Venngage, Piktochart and Adobe InDesign (this works for me because I have an existing Adobe subscription but if you don’t and would like to try InDesign, Adobe do offer a ‘free trial’ option).
When deciding on a template, choose something that is as close to what you need in terms of layout, colours and images/icons as possible. The fewer changes you need to make to a template, the more likely it is that you will produce a really eye-catching and balanced design! Your target audience should always be front-of-mind when making this decision.
The Design Process
When you alter colours, try to maintain the same number of colours provided in the template. In most cases, two or three colours will be perfect.
Maintain elements in balance. For example, if the template has one too many sections you might need to adjust the spacing of everything else after you have deleted the unwanted section. You can also change icons and pictures to suit your purpose, but try to maintain their size and position in the template (again, for balance).
Finally, simple is almost always better when it comes to design. Beware of over-crowding your design (with too much text or too many images). Maintaining white space around all elements helps to avoid a cramped look too. If you’re finding it too hard to fit everything in, maybe you could look at other options such as multiple infographics (or cutting out less-important information).
The Finishing Touches
Have a break! I always recommend stepping away from your work before doing a final check and any required editing. Returning with ‘fresh eyes’ will help you to identify any errors, omissions or opportunities for improvement much more easily.
Ask for feedback
Send your infographic to a trusted friend, colleague or family member. Someone who you trust to provide you with constructive feedback, of course!
Download and Publish
You might need to check the required file type and size/resolution for your intended purpose before downloading your design. If you can’t find details on the website or platform itself, a quick ‘Google’ will usually reveal the information you need! If all else fails, you can download the file using the default settings, then upload and see how it displays (comparing desktop and mobile viewing is a good idea too). If you’re using a design platform like Canva, there are preset download settings for most popular social media sites. In my experience, these are not always accurate (especially when using the ‘magic resize’ feature) but they can be a good starting point.
*Remember to revisit your content occasionally to make sure it’s as accurate as possible (set a reminder on your phone for every 6-12 months). If your content is aligned with current research and industry best practice, your media is more likely to maintain relevance and attract ongoing engagement.
Extra Information and Resources