An eye-catching, compelling way to tell a visual story about complex data, a way that’s more accessible and universal than the boring, text-heavy graphs that preceded them; in design terminology, this refers to an infographic.
Information is very powerful but for the most bit it is bland and unimaginative. Infographics channel information in a visually pleasing, instantly understandable manner, making it not only powerful, but also extremely beautiful. Once used predominantly to make maps more approachable, scientific charts less daunting and as key learning tools for children, inforgraphics have now permeated all aspects of the modern world.
Creating an infographic can be an intimidating process, but if you take time to research and follow some simple steps almost everybody with a computer can create one.
Plan – every design process should start with a plan. Decide on a subject and develop a story to be narrated through graphics with a minimal amount of words. You’ll want to plan out your infographic much like you would plan out a website, using wireframes or other methods to map out exactly what it’s going to look like and how the information will be presented.
Research, using credible sources – it goes without saying that all the data should be thoroughly researched and backed up by the facts.
Sift and condense – while researching you will inevitably end up with piles of data. Condense and decide which data is the most relevant and how you are going to present it.
As I wrote a long time ago in a previous post, KISS (keep it simple s…) – in this case, keep words to a minimum. Certainly, use whatever text is necessary to communicate the essential information, or to expand on a figure, but rely on unique visual techniques to do most of the work. One of the best ways to test out how much text you really need is to work with non-essential text on one layer of your file, turning it off occasionally to see if it still makes sense without that text there. Add or subtract until the infographic is using as little text as possible without sacrificing clarity.
Typography is our friend – a visual element just like any other, one that you can use to attract the reader’s eyes. The best place to get creative with typography is in titles and headers which are there to break up information and draw readers into the next section. For all other text, have fun but keep it as readable as possible, sticking to a select few fonts rather than playing with every one out there. Remember, this isn’t a graph, but it should be as understandable and unified as one.
For now we have a lot to work with. Next week we will finish with the basic concepts so that we can start building our own infographics from A to Z.
Have you ever built an infographic? What does your planning process consist of?