Infographics might take a little more effort to produce than a blog post, but they’re one of the most powerful weapons in your content marketing arsenal.
Infographics can be skimmed quickly, making them appealing to today’s mildly ADD media consumer, and they can distill a great deal of complex information into an easily digestible format. When done right, they can also be a lot of fun and a great reference resource.
Image © Lunchbreath
However, actually making infographics (well, good ones anyway) can be a major hassle. Sure, you could have an intern knock out a rough-looking infographic in a day or so, but publishing a poor-quality infographic could do more harm than good and might actually end up hurting your brand.
Here are five cool ways you can use them to help you get started with your next infographic project.
Unless you went to art school, the finer nuances of color theory might seem a little mysterious. However, when it comes to conversion rate optimization, the color palette of your infographics can make a huge difference.
There are many different color schemes you can use in your infographics, including complementary, analogous, and triadic:
If you have a rough idea for a base color you want to include in your infographic, try playing around with Paletton, a free online color scheme design tool. Paletton allows you to experiment with various color schemes, and also provides you with the precise hexadecimal codes for each color in your design, which your designer will definitely appreciate.
However, using colors effectively doesn’t just make your infographic look good – it can also speak volumes about your brand or the message you’re trying to convey.
Different colors signify different things, and the world’s biggest brands manipulate these associations to great effect:
Think carefully about what colors you choose, and what you’re trying to say with your infographic. Color choice is one of the most important considerations when it comes to producing a professional-quality infographic, so be sure to give it the attention it deserves.
This superb infographic illustrating the complexities of Italy’s rail network by designer Francesco Franchi, which was featured in the high-end Italian monthly magazine IL, expertly demonstrates the impact that color palette can have on an infographic.
Franchi has used a subtle complementary color scheme in this infographic (by using red and blue as the main colors), and has softened the overall impact of these potentially stark colors by opting for slightly muted hues. In addition, this infographic cleverly incorporates geographical and population data, resulting in an easy-to-read, visually appealing infographic.
If you’re planning to cover a broad range of topics or subject areas in a single infographic, breaking the overall piece into several individual sections is a great way to compartmentalize the data and make sure the reader can follow along.
This technique is particularly effective when presenting a great deal of information. Using this approach, you can segment each individual data point so that it is self-contained without omitting useful or interesting information from the infographic itself.
When it comes to broad topics, few are as potentially complicated as global logistics, which is UPS’ bread and butter. To some, encapsulating a day in the life of the UPS fleet might seem like an impossible task for a designer, but this segmented infographic proves it can be done in a highly effective way.
This infographic presents a wide range of data, such as how many packages UPS delivers per day, the company’s total number of employees, how many flights UPS operates daily, and how many tracking requests UPS receives, among other data points.
Although each of the data points are relevant to one another, it would be difficult to convey all this information without segmenting each point into a distinct section. As you can see, this infographic has four distinct sections, each containing several interesting facts about UPS. This design also makes use of an analogous color scheme, which further reinforces the visual coherency of the graphic overall.
Just as you can break up your infographic into distinct sections to ensure a smooth, logical flow, you can also experiment with varying the size of your fonts to draw attention to particularly juicy data.
Although this method can be an effective way to segment your data points as in the example above, using different font sizing throughout your infographic is an ideal way to draw the reader’s attention to specific statistics. Remember that most people will quickly skim an infographic before diving into the finer details, so emphasizing certain points using larger fonts is a great way to convey important (and enticing) information quickly.
Varying the size of the font in your infographic can be an effective tactic if you’re trying to illustrate data about a less-than-thrilling topic – in this case, how often people upgrade software programs. It might not be the sexiest subject in the world, but VoIP software company Skype managed to pull off a highly effective infographic about precisely that a few years ago:
In addition to mixing up the size of the font in each data point, Skype also varied the weight of the font to emphasize certain points. As you can see, the proportion of adults surveyed isn’t as prominent in each of the data points on the right, as this type is fainter than the key takeaways. Skype uses this technique to great effect in this example, and you can quickly read what really matters in each data point.
Presenting data on its own can be an effective way to make a point. Directly comparing and contrasting two data sets alongside one another, however, can pack an even more powerful punch. Everybody loves a good old-fashioned throw down, and infographics are an excellent format for directly comparing two things. You can apply this technique to virtually anything: user demographics, products, bands, coffee outlets – you name it.
Two of the main reasons this approach is so effective is that people will often quickly identify with one subset of the two (especially when it comes to brands and popular products), and because this infographic format allows the user to quickly and easily compare data points between the two “sides,” appealing to their confirmation bias. Even if the reader doesn’t strongly identify with either of the two subsets, it’s still an interesting way to frame your data.
This great infographic from the now-defunct “decision engine” Hunch (which closed in March last year) is a great example of this technique in action.
As a die-hard Android user, I was immediately drawn in by the comparison of the two mobile operating systems, and some of the data points are genuinely fascinating (such as the fact that Android users are slightly more likely to listen to telemarketing pitches, whereas iOS users are 60% more likely to be American Express cardholders):
Since Hunch is no longer with us (URLs from the site now redirect to eBay New York’s website, as eBay reportedly paid $80 million for Hunch in 2011), if you want to read the full infographic for yourself, check it out at OSX Daily, which has hosted it in its glorious and quirky entirety.
Not every infographic lends itself to individual categorization, especially if you only have one data point for each category. If this dilemma sounds familiar, you can learn a thing or two from Pinterest and use tiles to present a wide range of data in an easy-to-read, aesthetically pleasing way.
Tiling your data points is a great way to categorize each statistic in its own distinct section, as well as make your infographic easy to read. You can also mimic Pinterest’s style and include further data points for each key statistic, providing the reader with more information without drowning them in information or having to create a separate tile.
As we’re talking about tiled infographics in reference to Pinterest, it made sense to use an infographic about Pinterest as our example, such as this one by design firm Modea:
Several of the tiles in this example demonstrate how this “nesting” concept can be used, particularly the Age Demographics, Average Time Spent on Site, and Brands on Pinterest tiles. Overall, this is an excellent way to soften the aesthetic of your infographic, make your data more approachable, and structure the information in a logical but casual way.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to style a tiled infographic. Microsoft utilized this technique for a simple yet effective graphic showcasing some statistics about the company:
The inclusion of image tiles helps this infographic seem less data-intensive and breaks up the data points, and also reinforces the Microsoft brand by using imagery seen elsewhere in Microsoft’s collateral. Aside from the use of a bright red in the lower-right corner, this graphic makes use of a largely analogous color palette, which further enhances its visual appeal.
Now that we’ve looked at five cool ways you can use infographics in your own marketing, the only thing left to do is download your free infographic templates and get started on your own! It’s worth noting that these free infographic templates should be considered basic starting points – all the examples above were created by professional designers, and likely took a pretty long time to produce. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get started or experiment with some rough ideas, these templates will be just fine.
If you’re looking for more tips and suggestions about how to develop winning infographic concepts, check out this infographic case study about how one of our graphics got picked up by CNN and drove tons of traffic to our site.
Whatever you come up with using these free templates, I hope this post has shown you how these techniques can take your infographics from “good” to “great.”
Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.
See other posts by Dan Shewan
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