Why and how communicators should create infographics

Visual storytelling captures attention and delivers messages that stick in viewers’ minds. Here are some fundamental approaches, along with tools to streamline the process.

(Editor’s note: This was one of the top viewed stories of 2015. We’re rerunning it as part of a look back at the articles that captivated our readers the most.)

Together with the predicted rise of content marketing, it’s likely that during the next couple of years we’ll witness a growing interest in brand infographics.

Infographics are a smart content feature. They provide lots of valuable information and tips in a visually inspiring form.

How can you create great infographics that will captivate your audience and clearly communicate your brand message?

Here’s my guide to making the most from this innovative medium:

Choosing the right content

Compelling infographics are built around content, not design. You have to fully understand your topic; only then can you present the most important points and takeaways in a clear, concise way.

Sometimes your topic or data simply won’t fit the structure of an infographic. If you choose information that is easily available or doesn’t show anything new or surprising, don’t expect that your infographic will go viral.

Here ‘s a good example of data that don’t benefit from being illustrated in an infographic. Also, the 7 percent increase is inaccurately illustrated.

Choose simple ideas, avoid imitating great infographics you’ve seen online, provide in-depth information and don’t be predictable. Remember to have a precise outreach strategy for promoting your infographic across social media channels and blogs.

Infographic accessibility

Significant access barriers include use of color or color contrast. The accessibility of your infographic will directly affect its reach, so provide a textual alternative and use HTML or CSS, so that mobile screen readers can access the content.

Adding alternative text isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it: The accessibility of your infographic will be radically improved, and search engines will have no problem determining the image content. Learn more about the details of its implementation here.

Picking the right charts

Visual.ly analyzed the top infographics on its website and concluded that when it comes to sharing, data visualization is not a crucial element—more than 50 percent of its top-rated infographics had no charts or diagrams.

Still, some of your data might greatly benefit from visualization. There are three primary ways of visualizing information:

  • Comparison works best if you want to determine the highest and lowest values in your data set.
  • Transition is applied to time-based data and helps convey a trend of change-for instance, Web traffic over the last five years.
  • Composition enables the viewer to see how one value is broken down to its components; the pie chart is among the most popular infographic visualization techniques.

If you’re interested in more chart options, have a look at this resource, which will help you in choosing the best visualization for your data on the basis of your intention.

Top tools for creating infographics

Few of us have the time to spend hours working in Photoshop creating beautiful infographics. Fortunately, there are some really smart tools that can radically speed up the process.

  • Easel.ly provides lots of free templates to help you start your infographic.
  • Piktochart offers grid-lined templates and a practical editor to help you customize each element of your infographic, as well as adding graphic elements and images.
  • Infogr.am gives you access to a wide range of charts, graphs and maps; you can also upload pictures and videos to create captivating infographics.

It’s clear that all the energy that goes into creating beautiful infographics is worth it. According to recent studies, Web traffic tends to increase by 12 percent after publishing an infographic.

All in all, infographics are a great way to foster consumer engagement and boost brand visibility.

Tess Pajaron is a community manager at Open Colleges, an online learning provider based in Sydney. She has a background in business administration and management.

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