From Data to Design: How to Create an Infographic in 5 Easy Steps

Jul 12 2014

Last month in our blog ‘Showing is Better Than Telling: How to Use an Infographic for Engagement’  we talked about the powerful way infographics add context and story to data, and how their irresistible shareability make them ideal for digital marketing. Today we are going to delve into the process of translating raw data into clear and relevant visuals.

There are three key ingredients that must be balanced in any great infographics recipe: visuals, content and information. Finding a compelling way to organize and show information can be a very confusing and overwhelming task. Here we have simplified it into 5 easy steps to help your creative process!

5 Step Process

1. Research: Your research parameters will determine the richness of the story presented in the infographic, therefore it is important to get a well-rounded view of your topic. Ask probative questions and try to understand the why and how behind the information. Make sure to identify relevant, reputable sources and collect as much raw data as possible.

2. Sort: Once the collection phase is complete it is time to begin sorting the information. Naturally patterns and groupings will begin to emerge and you can begin to create a hierarchy. At this stage it is critical to transform the data into digestible and compelling insights so you can begin crafting a narrative. For example, instead of identifying the amount of product you sold last year, show the relationships between your different consumer groups and their purchasing trends. Each section should have a tight, digestible piece of information that either builds upon or is related to the information around it.

3. Sketch: It’s time to start telling the story! Pull out a sketchbook and try different ways of organizing the information. Skeletons and flowcharts can help you begin to identify relationships and flows. Consider what format best suits your information type (see previous post), and try different color schemes. Remember to focus on the story first, and think about fancy graphics and text later. It is better to be clear and simple than overwhelm the user with loud graphics or wonky text.

Key elements to define at the design stage include:

Theme graphic: A central eye-catching graphic that serves as a visual ‘topic statement’.  This should answer the question: what is this infographic about?

Hook: This is the focal point of the graphic and visualizes the main takeaway. It is the visual equivalent of the ‘a-ha’ moment.

Reference graphic:  Simple icons that cut down on words and help to guide the story. For example: social buttons, arrows, symbols etc.

4. Test: Great design is an iterative process. Having different people look at your work will ensure that your ideas are being communicated clearly and effectively. Since mobile internet usage is projected to overtake desktop internet usage this year, be sure to assess your infographic on many different devices.

5. Share! Include calls to action, relevant links, and sharing options.

Additional Visual Tips

  • Choose 2-3 web safe colors that are either on brand or thematic. Picking the right color combination can be tough, so using a color wheel tool like Color Scheme Designer can help with identifying analogous and complementary color groups.
  • Limit the use of dark and bright accent colors to highlight the most imporant visual information
  • Since most social sites and web pages use white backgrounds, avoid this in order to stand out.

For more Mambo posts on infographics click here or here

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