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When infographics first appeared, everyone looked at them with wonder, marvelling at the talents of the graphic designers who had created them. Then tools started to offer templates and options to allow anyone to start creating great infographics. Now, they are everywhere so is the time of infographics past or should bloggers still consider making them? And how easy is it for the non-designer (like me) to attempt it?
Why designing infographics remains popular
We often hear that we humans are a visual species and that we respond better to images and words than just images. In a sense, that’s what has made sites like Instagram and Pinterest so popular – they are visuals heavy and allows us to see what we are searching for as well as read about. The same principle shows that posts on Twitter and Facebook that contain images consistently do better than those without them.
Another reason to consider creating great infographics is that they are shareable across multiple platforms. They create a visual point to the data you are discussing in your blog post and do well on Pinterest. You can cut them into smaller pieces and share a bit at a time on Twitter or Facebook and even Instagram. And they boost your professional image on sites like LinkedIn and Google+. They may even go viral and help give great backlinks to your website.
Should everyone make infographics?
However, there is some evidence to show that not every industry benefits from the use of an infographic. A study conducted by Siegemedia looked at the 1000 most popular infographics from Buzzsumo in 2016 and found that while some industries benefited from their use, it wasn’t a universal plus.
For example, the food industry featured in the results just 0.56% of the time, meaning that few people were making food infographics. This is a curious one because I’ve personally seen a lot of food-related infographics while researching one of my other blogs. So perhaps this was a factor of the source of their research? Also, poor for infographic examples were Computers & Electronics, Politics, Travel and Tourism and Finance.
At the other end of the scale, the most popular industry for the use of infographics was Health, followed by Entertainment, Business, Social Media and Science. Of these, there are tons of infographics on Pinterest that use social media as their topic – best times to post, image sizes, general posting rules and much more.
Infographic data visualisation
The key to success when creating great infographics is the research that goes into it. By planning what you want to talk about and having the hard data available, you are better placed to then create the actual infographic.
To begin with, you should think about your audience in much the same way as you would do for a blog post. Or perhaps, alongside the blog post if it is designed to accompany one. Who are you creating the infographic for? What do you want them to do with it (most likely share it on social media in many cases)?
The next step is also like a blog post – research the keywords to include in the piece. Google Planner and Trends are two useful tools, SERPs also has a good keyword tool that is free and you can add the keywords to a CSV document that you then download if required.
Once you have an idea of what you want to create, start looking for broad terms to provide the research that you require. Locations such as Google Scholar and the Harvard Business Review can get you high-quality sources of hard data and internet searches of terms you find from these can help provide contrasting information or further sources. With all the information you find, ask questions such as:
- Is it original?
- Can it be validated?
- Is the author or source reputable?
With the rise of ‘fake news’ and similar controversies, it may pay to stick to the most proven facts for some industries while others the standard is a little less strict.
Also look at the date of the data – if something was said in 1994 and things have changed a lot then this might not be relevant. On the other hand, if everything shows that this fact is still true then that’s great, just place a note somewhere of the date of the original statement.
Raw data is one thing but data that can be used in creating great infographics needs to be data that can be visualised. So, while collecting data, always think about how you will use it in a visual way. Icons, images, illustrations these are all used in in infographics but if you can’t find a way to make data visual, then it might not be right for this medium and should be used in a blog post.
If you look at collections of the best infographics that different experts have compiled, you will notice that many tell a story. There’s an intro, some basic information, leading into further data that illustrates a point and then a quick summary. Once you have your data, you can begin to write your story both in terms of the post and the infographic.
When it comes to the actual design of the infographic, there are a number of tools out there that offer templates. These can be swapped around and altered to suit your story or even just used for inspiration. I’m a Canva fan and they have a set of infographics that you can use as well as loads of free icons, illustrations and images that can be utilised in the creation process. It is easy to alter to your brand colours too if you are a Professional user.
Other tools for designing infographics include:
The last one of these is a set of 15 free templates to use with different software and can be downloaded at the price of your email address – a fair bargain to my mind!
You can also use Adobe Illustrator to make infographics but I’m the first to admit I haven’t mastered Photoshop yet so haven’t even considered looking at Illustrator. I believe many of the professional use this software so no doubt it will be brilliant.
Before you publish
Before you spread your creation around the internet, it pays to have someone look at it for you and give you some feedback. One option is to ask for feedback in one of the many blogging Facebook groups who have regular slots where you can ask for help or advice. These are people who work on these kinds of projects regularly and will be able to tell you if your creation does the job or needs a little work before going public.
I’ll hold my hands up to admit I haven’t made an infographic of my own yet for this blog – but I did have a go at one for my food blog. It was okay, a start. I’ve made mini versions before to illustrate key points on a post and found them both frustrating and satisfying – I’m definitely no graphic designer! But I do want to try and make more of them because I think they are an ideal partner to all of these words and can make your blog accessible to people who might otherwise not go for it.
Have you ever made an infographic? If so, was it a success? What did you feel went right or wrong with the process?
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