An Infographic is simply the combination of the words “Information” and “Graphics” used to present complex data or “Big Data” as it is also known. Infographics are already huge on the Internet, but there are a few trends coming together that mean every business should consider using them to promote their business. But perhaps the biggest news is the possibility that ordinary businessmen and women could design their own Infographics on-line, with the specific aim of having them shared on Social Media such as Facebook and especially Twitter.
People, and ultimately your potential customers, seem to love Infographics precisely because they are easy to share and help everyone understand and visualise important, often numerical, ideas that we wish to promote or learn. It is the principle that a picture paints a thousand words. Why spend time reading a complex block of text when the same information could be presented as an attractive picture? And the word “attractive” is a bit of a clue to why these Infographics work. When done well, almost regardless of the message, Infographics tend to be pleasing to the eye. Not only that. Infographics are designed to appeal to those with short attention spans. An affliction that more and more web users will admit to these days!
Infographics are like a whole PowerPoint presentation (minus the annoying presenter!) on one slide. Newspapers have traditionally used simple graphics to illustrate a point. For example, if the Editor wants to make a point about say, soaring interest rates, he or she could use a dull bar chart showing the increase in cost of a typical house over the past 5 years, but it is much more attractive to show a cartoon style house taking off like a rocket (and perhaps exiting the page, top right), with numbers appended to the rocket’s smoke trail! The modem web version of this is an Infographic.
The aim is to tell a story in numbers and pictures about your company or a particular product and to highlight why a prospect should be interested. This can be a single image or a series of connected images depending on the story you want to tell. But once you worked out the story, always think about why anyone would want to share the Info graphic using Social Media. The reason a prospect or customer would share your Infographic is the same reason as they might share your company YouTube video or Blog article. It should have relevant information and be either shocking (certainly attention grabbing) or funny or all three!
Now most small business people are not great graphic designers and I expect that most would ask a friendly graphic artist to produce the first. But, one of the easiest on-line “Infographics” to produce for yourself is a “Wordle”. See www.wordle.net. As they say, “a Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text”
If you fancy a go with properly numerically based ideas, here are some tips for the layperson who wishes to create his or her own Infographics, or for those who wish to give their designer a good steer:
Designing an Infographic
- Keep it simple! Don’t try to do too much in one picture
- Decide on a colour scheme
- Research some great facts and statistics
- Think of it as a visual essay: ensure your arguments hold and are relevant.
- Remember that it’s all about quickly conveying the meaning behind complex data
- Draw conclusions
- Reference your facts in the Infographic
- Include your URL so people can be sure who made it.
Now interestingly, some companies are trying to develop web software that allows individuals to create “stunning” infographics using a menu of ready made designs. For example, Google Infographics allows you to take any publicly available data (see Pulic Data Explorer) and turn into an Infographic, but perhaps the most ambitious company is called. “Visual.ly”. See: http://visual.ly/about. As they say:
“Visualizations are powerful, but they’ve required time and hard work to create — until now. You no longer need expensive software, extensive design skills, or number crunching ability. We’re building a tool that will allow everyone to quickly and easily create professional quality designs with their own data. And when you’re ready to show your work to the world, publish it on your Visual.ly profile, your own personal showcase”
So, it is rather disappointing that it does not yet work! But you can certainly see the idea. For now, I would recommend getting your ideas together and asking that friendly graphic designer to produce Infographics for you. And remember, for best results, make them relevant and easy to share with your Social Media audience!