Infographics were really hot between 2009 and 2011 in the digital marketing world. And while they’ve become a little less popular over the past couple years, they seem to be enjoying a revival.
However, if you’re an entrepreneur considering diving into the infographic world, know that the key to success there is understanding how to design them according to reader preferences. Here are a few best practices worth applying in your infographic design efforts.
1. Start with an audience in mind.
One problem a lot of marketers have is trying to design an infographic with everyone in mind. As a result, the visual usually ends up reaching nobody in particular. This devalues the content and greatly hinders the results.
If you want to be successful, you must start the design process with a specific audience in mind. Whom are you trying to reach? What issues do these customers have? What solutions do they need? How can you connect issues and solutions with reputable data points? These are all important questions to consider when thinking about your audience and how the infographic will reach them.
2. Show, don’t tell.
One of the biggest rules of infographic design is to show, not tell. In other words, your visualizations should do as much of the talking as possible. If you need to use a bunch of words, something is wrong.
“If you’re having trouble adhering to this rule, try keeping all of your text on one layer of your AI file (excluding text inside charts and graphs),” designer Amy Balliet suggested in Smashing magazine. “Every once in a while, turn off the text layer and see whether the infographic still makes sense. If there isn’t any data viz, or if a bunch of pictures are missing context, then you are doing too much telling and not enough showing.”
3. Focus on flow.
“Flow” is an important concept in infographic design. Since most infographics are designed in a vertical fashion, you want them to flow, both cognitively and visually, from the top down.
If you’re still having trouble, your infographic may lack separation. Check out this example from Kitchen Cabinet Kings. Notice how the infographic flows freely from one section to the next. This is possible because of borders and other separating design elements.
Now, contrast the Kitchen Cabinet Kings example with this infographic from The Fact Site. Do you see how confusing the second infographic is? That confusion is rooted in a lack of flow.
4. Prioritize typography.
Most people don’t think twice about typography. They simply select the first font that looks good. However, typography is actually one of the single most important elements of an infographic. It’s another way to express yourself and complement the main content.
“In most cases, avoid decorative or script type as it tends to be hard to read,” suggests Venngage, the graphic design site. “If you have to use small text, use it sparingly, and it always helps to increase the line height of bodies of small text if it starts to become hard to read.”
5. Simple color schemes rule.
It may seem simple, but the color scheme you select for your infographic will go a long way toward how many impressions and shares you get. As a general rule of thumb, try to use a simple color scheme that somehow relates to your brand’s colors.
If you can’t do that, make sure you’re at least using colors that balance the different elements of the infographic and make it easy to read.
6. Minimalism reigns supreme.
Because infographics are so versatile, many marketers think they’re an opportunity to use as many different visuals and design techniques as they can. Nothing could be further from the truth: Instead, stick to the KISS acronym: “Keep it simple, stupid.”
If you find yourself with too much information, consider splitting your work into multiple infographics. Not only will you get more content out of the effort, but you’ll also have better results because readers won’t be nearly as overwhelmed.
Get your act together.
Any modern content marketing strategy must account for visual content. But if you’re going to design infographics in 2017, there’s no room for subpar design. It’s important that you understand what your audience wants and that you give it to them with minimal interference.
It’s also worth taking a look at interactive infographics, which represent the wave of the future. With these infographics, users can experience information in a totally new way — clicking, scrolling, and hovering to find what they’re looking for.
As Killer Infographics explains, the opportunity an infographic creates is “a unique and personalized experience for each user, as they can decide what feels like the most interesting path to take. They can spend time with the content that excites them and dig deeper.”