10 Must-Have Characteristics of a Great Infographic
Infographics are, perhaps, the most interesting way of presenting content; at least, from a visual point of view. Attractive, colorful, but still widely comprehensible, an infographic is an excellent way to captivate the attention of your target audience. This medium is great, because it allows you to play with a lot of different ways of presenting content, including creating a narrative, which is usually reserved for video. The possibilities are endless with this quick, snappy and extremely interesting method of presenting an idea, a concept or a message.
1. Simple presentation of information
One of the most important things about content of any kind is for it to be simple and clear. You should be able to read it and understand it with zero difficulties; cocking your head to the side to try and decipher it is not a good sign. Relaying your information in a simple, linear way that is easy to comprehend is the best course of action both for you and your readers.
That means that the potential client understands your message and they are more likely to buy what you are selling – literally and figuratively. Too much information – yes, there is such a thing – will make your infographic look cluttered, busy and generally incomprehensible. When there is too much coming at you, you don’t try to decipher it; you just abandon it altogether.
2. The right length
Are you familiar with the story of Goldilocks and her search of the perfect porridge? One as too hot, one was too cold, but the third was just right. That is what I want you to aspire to, when it comes to the length of your infographic. It can’t be too long, because it becomes boring and let’s be real – who’s going to sit around, scrolling down on an infographic forever? It can’t be too short, because then what’s the point, right? It doesn’t provide any real value.
3. Accurate data
There is no getting around this – data is another one of those vital components. It should be present and it should be accurate. You can’t get away with making up some stats and numbers, slapping them on a chart and calling it a day. No, sir. You have to actually do your research and present people with accurate data. That is the sign of a serious company that is not playing around with their stats.
You what happens when you make up “facts” or twist data to fit your specific purposes? You lose credibility. And you lose it big time. A person who fact checks your infographic and discovers that you are, essentially, a fraud, will never put their trust in you again. And why should they? You lied to them; you have been openly deceiving your clients and that’s not cool. An infographic from The Atlantic (how fitting, right?) shows that as much as 95% of infographics contain distorted data. Don’t make the same mistake.
4. Not overly promotional
It is perfectly fine for your infographic to be promotional. After all, that’s why you’re creating it, in the first place. But that should not be the central focus of the infographic. One that is too promotional comes off as obnoxious, fake and generally not trustworthy. No one is going to believe your stats if you keep tooting your own horn, you know? The promotional aspect should come out from your data and information, but not explicitly through it, you get me? Promoting yourself indirectly, through the results of your infographic is okay, while openly stating how great you are gets a thumbs down.
5. Interesting and informational
When it comes to infographics, the information you include is essential, because it is literally the only thing there. In an article, you have a bit more wiggle room – a joke here, a comment there, some references, and you “fill” up your word quota, in addition to the info. But with an infographic, it’s only the naked data on the page, so you need to make it good. Here are some characteristics your information should have:
- Presented in an interesting way
Always remember the most important aspect of content, in general: value. Sure, the medium is different, but the rules are the same. Your content has to provide value to the reader; otherwise you’re just wasting their time. Think about how you would feel if someone targeted you for some sort of content that was completely irrelevant to your needs and interests – you would be pretty annoyed, right?
That’s why you have to make sure that the content you put out always provides value to your reader. It’s a fair exchange: they give you their attention and you give them valuable and relevant information. If you don’t carry out your end of the bargain, you’re just some jerk who is taking advantage of their audience and you don’t want that, right?
7. Professional and expert
You know what gives you credibility and elevates you in the eyes of your audience? The impression that you know what you are doing. Ideally, you actually do know what you’re doing, but if you’re not quite there yet, “fake it ‘til you make it” is a great motto. Anyway, credibility and authority is established through a professional attitude and leaving the impression that you are the expert on the matter. And that is achieved how, ladies and gentlemen?
Through facts, data, numbers, statistics, strong words, but also – very importantly – valid, authoritative sources. Any good infographic cites its sources at the very end, which not only puts you in the clear where plagiarism is concerned, but also has the added benefit of making a clear statement about professionalism, fairness and accuracy of information.
8. An attractive look
Since this type of content relies so heavily on the visual aspect, this is obviously one of the crucial parts, so you’d better make it good. Of course, “good” is entirely subjective, so why don’t I give you some more specific indications?
- Use bold colors, but not obnoxious ones – The graphic should catch your eye, but it shouldn’t remain seared on your retina. Make use of common sense and pair together colors that are pleasant, not shocking.
- Make use of variety – Shapes, sizes, ways of presenting information; it’s all fair game. Play around with the way you present your content, because that’s what’s going to attract readers. Not everything needs to be neat and tidy. In fact, it should be the opposite of that. Make it fun!
- Ensure readability – I’ve seen far too many infographics with teeny tiny text or white fonts used over pale yellow backgrounds to be able to let this one go: whatever you do, make sure people are actually able to read it. One should not need to increase the contrast on their monitor and stick their noses to the screen to be able to read your infographic.
Maybe this goes without saying, but I’m going to say it, anyway: your infographic should be original. And I’m not just talking about the dangers and moral failings of plagiarism, but also about the fact that no one will read your graphic if it’s already been done to death. Not only that, but you, yourself will suffer if your content is a duplicate. People don’t appreciate companies which steal ideas from each other, and while similar articles happen, it’s much more obvious in an infographic.
The solution is to put more effort into choosing your topic. Don’t just take the first thing that comes to mind; do your research and really look into the interests of your target audience. What would they like to see? What haven’t they seen yet? What would boost your company in the eyes of your readership, while also providing interesting info? Make a list, search around to see if it hasn’t been done already and get to work! That infographic won’t create itself.
10. A clear conclusion or message
An infographic is trying to achieve something through its existence. You are trying to relay some information, send a message, or demonstrate a certain idea. Therefore, your infographic should always have a clear and obvious conclusion. If what you are trying to do is prove how your company is better than its competitors, don’t just include the pie charts that state your larger share of the market – word out the obvious conclusion.
In fact, the intention should appear in the title, as well: “X company is widely preferred by customers” or something similar, depending on what you are trying to demonstrate. Should your infographic lack these things, it will fall flat or appear disjointed. Without a clear conclusion or a message you are sending, it’s just a beautifully colored graphic that states some facts.