Creating infographics that excite your audience
Infographics are a bit like the comic books of data visualisation. Done well, they have the power to truly capture the imagination of your audience – an information story told through vibrant images and thrilling pace.
But just like every content creation activity worth its salt, there is a vast difference between a successful infographic and one that fails to fly. The key to success? Resonation with your desired audience.
Let’s delve into exactly what an infographic is, why they can be so effective and how to tailor them to your audience.
What is an infographic?
The very title, infographic, highlights its own composition: ‘information’ plus ‘graphic’. Put it together and what do you get? A visual form of communication bent on informing an audience through pictures or graphics. Not so catchy, we have to admit, but a very effective piece of content all the same.
Often the aim of infographics is to convey complex information in a way that can be quickly read and understood. Note: The medium’s focus on graphics doesn’t mean there aren’t words involved, however they should be kept to a minimum and interplay with the visuals,
Infograpics have existed since the dawn of printed media- think the posters in your doctors’ surgery, visually informing you about how to wash your hands. But in the age of the world wide web they have seen a meteoric rise in popularity. As such the term is very broad and can be related to three general categories.
- Editorial infographics: Often used as a replacement for an editorial feature or blog article, editorial infographics present a visual narrative. They often include many pertinent supporting facts and are an interesting way to communicate a sequential argument.
- Data visualisation: Simply a visual representation of any data set. Often considered an artistic element of science, it can be a fantastic way to communicate complex data narratives in an efficient manner.
- Information design: This differs from data visualisation in that these infographics are not made up of purely data points. Instead they seek to convey or explain other concepts or information in an easy to follow manner. For example a process, chronology, hierarchy or price.
These categories are not mutually exclusive and often all of them can be found together within a single infographic.
Are infographics effective?
In a single word answer: Yes. Very. Okay that was two words, but you get our point. Infographics are one of the most consumed and shared pieces of content on the web. So why are they so powerful?
1.The human brain processes visual information faster than words
There is a reason picture books are easier to read than a close print edition of a Dickens novel. Quite simply, people were visual beings long before they became literate, and our brains still process images much faster than words. In fact, an MIT study found that the human brain can identify images seen for as little as thirteen milliseconds!
On top of our predilection for images over words, infographics provide an easily consumable and time-effective way of delivering information. Successful infographics take complex or classically ‘boring’ information and turn it into a concise page of easy-to-follow data. It doesn’t take much to see that someone will pick a summary infographic to read on the commute to work over a dense 40-page research paper.
2.Infographics are persuasive
Not only to visules help communicate information more effectively, they actually help to convince the audience of your point. According to the Wharton school of business, when verbal presentations were accompanied by images, those listening found them 17 per cent more convincing than those without images.
3.They demonstrate market leadership
Creating any form of quality content helps to establish industry leadership. Infographics can be a particularly powerful part of your content arsenal as they showcase an impressive range of knowledge and skills. Ideally they show off stylised or branded graphics and storyboarding combined with well-researched facts and concise narration. Together these pack a powerful punch, setting you up as a force to be reckoned with in your field.
4.They are perfect for the digital age
In a social landscape dominated by Instagram and Twitter, brevity is not just in vogue, it’s a necessity. According to Hubspot, an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a text article. Furthermore good infographic pieces are highly shareable and can even go viral on social media.
How to tailor your infographic to your audience
Like all successful content, your infographics should be designed and created for your target audience. This seems like a given, but it can be tempting with a large, accessible graphic piece to assume that it will appeal to everybody. This simply isn’t true. For example consider how differently you would design an infographic about rockets for normal people compared to rocket scientists – the answer is very!
Before starting your infographic it is important to create a thorough user persona to highlight the key characteristics of your target audience. Think about:
- Who is your ideal audience?
- What questions do they want answering?
- What do they already know about the subject?
- What action do you want them to take once they have engaged with your infographic?
Once you have a clear idea who your target audience is and what they are looking for, make sure to design every aspect of your infographic with them in mind.
That being said there are some general tips that should apply to all infographics, no matter the audience. These are:
- Strong headline: Your title should be eye catching and also explain to readers what they will be engaging with. Infographics are all about communicating, so misleading your audience from the outset will not go down well.
- Keep it short and simple: The joy of an infographic is its concise, easy-to-consume nature. Make sure your piece is short, sweet and organised logically.
- Accurate well-researched information: Any statistics or facts you include should be ruthlessly researched and sourced. This way your audience knows they can trust the information you are giving them. Also remember to keep any charts or graphs to an appropriate scale.
- Quality graphics work: Graphics are one of the first features your readership will notice about your infographic. Make sure they are high quality and reflect the values of your brand. Done well this is an opportunity to increase your recognition and authority.