Infographics for non-designers: the complete guide

You don’t have to be a professional designer to make an attractive, effective marketing infographic. Don’t believe it? Read what this pro designer says.

Even if you’re not a graphic designer, you can quickly and easily create attractive marketing infographics for your website and social media feeds.

You’ve seen the beautiful, informative explainer graphics that have popped up all over the Web in the last few years. These infographics visually explain topics too cumbersome or complicated to spell out in text. They use charts, graphs, images and short bits of text to clearly communicate a message or explain a subject.

According to inbound marketing company Hubspot, studies have shown that people process visual information faster than words. Visual information makes a more significant and lasting effect as well.

Given our fast-paced lives and increasing demands on our attention, if you communicate a message, you must do it fast. Infographics are effective for this.

Humans presented information graphically as soon as they could scratch on cave walls. By 1980 innovative newspapers like USA Today and Britain’s Sunday Times began to perfect presenting data in appealing, easily digestible infographics.

As the Web has become our most-used communication device, infographics have exploded. Check your Pinterest and Instagram feeds; you’ll see dozens of infographics on a many topics. They are the modern way to impart information.

I’ll show you how even non-designers can create highly successful infographics.

Step 1: What do you want to illustrate?

First, the kinds of knowledge you can you communicate with infographics by looking at some examples:

a) You can illustrate processes.

Your small startup brews craft beer. You might want to create an infographic that details beer-making. You make a beautiful infographic, put it on your website, and you send it out on your social media channels. With luck, the graphic goes viral and suddenly your microbrewery is flooded with customers.

b) You can use infographics to illustrate data and data trends. Maybe you own a coffee shop. You want to show the most popular brew among regular, latte, espresso and cappuccino. And you want to show numbers on how many cups of coffee the average person enjoys per day. Put this data in an infographic, send it out, get some buzz, and voilá, the line of customers wanting a cup of your fine java is out the door!

c) Infographics can also show geographical information (e. g., which part of the country has the most Pomeranians), a timeline (the 1980s at glance), and much more.

If you want to impress your boss, do a PowerPoint presentation with infographics showing how you’ve increased your company’s Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter followers.

Step 2: How to create an infographic?

Once you’re on board with the usefulness of this medium, your next question may be, “How do I get infographics for my website and social media?” You may not have the creative chops to build these visual beauties, or you may not know how to use sophisticated graphics software such as Adobe Illustrator. Or if you do, who has the time? You could hire a graphic designer, but that’s pricey and time-consuming.

The solution is easy. Build your own. You’d be surprised how easy it is. You needn’t panic if you’re not an illustrator or designer, because even non-designers can create beautiful infographics that communicate information simply and attractively.

Just build your infographic using Web apps that enable step-by-step creation of fabulous, attention-getting infographics.

All infographic-builder sites have free and paid options, so you can try out the free templates, see if you like the software and graduate to paid plans as your needs become more sophisticated. Paid plans offer more template options, a larger graphic library or extra upload storage. Some infographic-building services automatically add a watermark of their brand that you can remove only if you subscribe to their paid plans. Most services offer monthly- and annual-payment plans.

A snapshot of some web-based infographic-building services:

Easel.ly

This tool offers dozens of templates to get you started, as well as access to a library of symbols, shapes and arrows that you can use in your graphic. Easel.ly offers terrific sharing tools as well. The “pro” plan is $3 a month and supplies many more images, fonts and templates, the ability to upload your own fonts and files, and help from an Easel.ly designer.

Venngage

This program offers many templates for different styles of infographics, including statistical, informational process, timeline, geographic, charts and surveys and many more. The paid plan is $19 a month or $190 a year for access to “premium” templates and graphics.

Piktochart

Even with the free version of Piktochart, you get access to more than 4,000 beautifully designed icons and images, and to all editor functions. You can easily import data from a Microsoft Excel file, a Google spreadsheet or from your Survey Monkey account. Plans priced at $15 or $29 per month offer more uploads and other features.

Canva

This one offers several layout templates, and lots of beautiful art elements. Canva also offers the ability to design fliers, cards, presentations, posters, Pinterest posts, business cards and more. The “Canva for Work” option is $12.95 a month or $119.40 a year and allows teams to share company media.

PowerPoint

You can create an infographic in Microsoft PowerPoint. Inbound marketing company Hubspot offers free templates if you enter information on their website (and, of course, get added to their e-mail marketing lists).

Step 3: What to include

After you’ve selected an online tool to create your masterpiece, choose an infographic topic that makes sense for your business or brand.

Research your topic. Gather your data and document your sources—you’ll want to include them in your infographic. What are you trying to communicate? If you want to show numbers, have those numbers at hand. If you show a process, write the steps of the process in short, easy-to-digest nuggets.

Create a Word file or a Google Doc and type in your nuggets.

Each of the infographic-building services has its own mode of operation, but in general you’ll:

  • Select a template (although some let you skip the template and just build using their library of backgrounds and images).
  • Replace the “dummy” template text with your own text.
  • Add your own text boxes as necessary.
  • Replace dummy images with free images from their library, or upload your own.
  • Change colors and typefaces to match your needs.
  • Save your infographic to your computer as any commonly used file type.

As you build your infographic, keep in mind these guidelines for success:

  • Write a powerful headline that speaks to your target audience
  • Choose a harmonious color palette and stick to it. If you’ve established a palette for your brand, you might want to draw on it.
  • Tall, vertical infographics get the most attention, and they fit best on social media, too.
  • Limit yourself to one or two fonts; if you go crazy with a hundred typefaces, readers will skip your infographic.
  • Keep your infographic simple and focused on your topic.

As you work on the lower part of your infographic, build in a section to cite your sources. Add citations about where you got the data to increase the credibility and the authority of your infographic. This will lead to more sharing and publishing of your work. It’s also a nice shout-out to the people who gathered your data.

Don’t forget a call to action. What do you want to happen after readers have enjoyed your infographic? Do you want them to visit your website? Do you want them to donate money? Do you want them to vote? Tell them what their next step should be.

Finally, add branding. Include your logo, your company name and website URL.

Step 4: Share your infographic

When the infographic is complete, share it. Post it on your website and on your social media channels. Keep in mind style guidelines and network preferences for each social media channel.

Vertical infographics: Share long, vertical infographics on Pinterest. They perform best at 600 pixels wide and 1200 or more pixels long.

Horizontal infographics: Share these on Facebook (1200 x 627 pixels), LinkedIn (646 x 220 pixels ) and Twitter (1024 x 512 pixels).

Square Infographics: Share these on Instagram. Images around 510 x 510 pixels perform best.

Adjust your captions for each social network, as well. Share some information about the infographic and what your audience can learn from it on networks that favor informative, educational posts, such as Pinterest and LinkedIn. Pose questions on networks dominated by conversation, like Facebook or Instagram.

Use a visual social media tool like Viraltag to schedule posts and ensure your visuals fit each network.

A number of infographic-sharing sites also allow you to post your work for even more exposure.

It’s really easy for non-designers to create their own attractive, effective infographics. You don’t have to be an experienced graphic designer! Sign up for one of the free online tools I detailed above, or use PowerPoint, and start creating today. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

A version of this article first appeared on ViralTag.

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