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Avoid Ordinary Infographics with These 7 Steps

Avoid Ordinary Infographics with These 7 Steps

It’s become all too common to hear people say they’re sick of infographics. In a way, this sentiment is understandable; the Web is full of crappy infographics and the last thing we need is another one.

When done right, infographics diversify a site’s link profile, improve search visibility, create brand awareness, and compel someone to take action. It’s no wonder so many are trying to capitalize on infographics.  But why do so many fall short of achieving these goals, only to fill the Internet with yet another forgettable infographic?

We can attest that behind every successful infographic lies a process involving much more than taking statistics and turning them into a visual format. A well-produced infographic typically combines attributes from search marketing, public relations, journalism and visual design schools of thought.

At BlueGlass, infographic creation and promotion is always part of a larger online marketing strategy. We believe an infographic should be treated with the same attention as any other marketing collateral, which is why we take the time to create a detailed strategy around every infographic. As a result, we’ve created many infographics that get viewed by tens of thousands, receive thousands of social shares, and hundreds of high-quality links.

Creating an infographic that gets impressive results doesn’t happen out of luck. To understand a little more about what it takes to create a successful infographic from a BlueGlass vantage point, here’s a peek into our process…

1. Ideation

Generate, refine and select a fantastic concept.

The first hurdle is mastering the idea generation process. Here is a snapshot of things we take into consideration:

  • Who is the primary audience that will view the infographic?
  • If this is for a client, what has the client published in the past and which topics would expand on past topics?
  • Which timely topics relate to your company or the client company and can be best explained through an infographic?
  • Is there an obvious need for a evergreen resource that could be referred to by many for an extended period of time?

If the goal is to generate valuable and targeted links back to your site (which is probably at least one of your goals), start generating ideas that are semantically related to your site. If you’re unsure about your keyword list, learn how to build a semantically focused keyword list.

After you’ve generated a list of ideas ranging in topical relevance, sort the ideas based on fit for the client and fit for the primary audience.

2. Research

Locate compelling, authoritative and usable information to work with.

Great research is the lynchpin in creating great content. Following the ideation and selection process, a research reconnaissance mission should be carried out to search for any existing authoritative institutions, government agencies, universities or groups that have published content related to your infographic topic.

The source and research hierarchy is as follows:

  1. Government agencies
  2. Universities
  3. Large and well-respected news publications
  4. Third party research groups

However, some of the most successful infographics are those that release new information.  If your company (or client company) isn’t a data storage and collection powerhouse, that’s okay.  Optimizing and automating the data collection process for research can be simplified by using an online survey builder (we prefer SurveyBuilder).

3. Pictorial Metaphor

Create the unexpected ““a-ha moment” that helps the reader learn more quickly.

Most people understand how to explain an idea speaking with metaphors. The challenge when creating an infographic is utilizing pictorial metaphors to express a topic.

Tying metaphors into an infographic can make the idea stick better, as well as make viewers think about a topic in a new way. In the example below, an hourglass and the symbol for the euro creates a pictorial metaphor that represents the current sentiments regarding the declining value of a euro.

4. Narrative

Weave connections between research that strengthens the message of the content.

An infographic without text would simply be an amalgamation of pretty statistics sitting side by side.  You’ll need to include additional narrative to help tie the information together into a cohesive piece which supports the thesis of the infographic.

When crafting the narrative for an infographic, pay close attention to:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Editorial tone
  • Reconciling the copy with the brand
  • Ensuring the copy draws the correct conclusions for each visual

5. Hook Creation

Incorporate information that draws on current news and is topically relevant to your content or create a timeless resource.

Aim to create content that fits strongly into one of the following two buckets (bonus points if you can do both):

1. Evergreen hooks are timeless and useful.

An infographic resource built around something timeless has potential to live on for months or even years after it is released. As an example, this grammar infographic may become a resource people refer back to time and time again.

2. Timely hooks are widely-discussed or newsworthy topics that have a limited lifespan.

This example of 2012 Republican candidates’ financial plans is extremely relevant today, but will no longer have wide appeal once the primaries are over. However, a topic that has such wide appeal on a current topic has potential to be extremely popular, even if it is short lived.

6. Progressive and Current Design

Use attributes of popular design that will make your infographic get noticed and easier to read.

While we would love to believe in all cases that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” don’t ignore consensus around poor design vs. excellent design.  Going with what’s currently popular in design is a sure bet that most viewers will receive the infographic design well.

Excellent Design Attributes:

  • Visually appealing palette of colors
  • Organized message
  • Attention-grabbing typography
  • Iconography is detailed and relatable to the reader

Poor Design Attributes:

  • Typography or spacing makes text difficult to read
  • Iconography detail is low; it is outdated and clipart-esque
  • Color palette is bland and not engaging

7. Proper Attribution and Linking

Get the credit you deserve for allowing others to post your infographic.

If you’re creating an infographic that you plan to release publicly, chances are you want to encourage and allow others to share your work.  Often times when infographics are promoted, the secondary and tertiary publishers don’t give proper attribution to the original author.

Instead of getting upset because someone posted your content without your written consent or properly giving you credit, use this as an opportunity to reach out and get one or both of the following from the publisher…

1. An embed code box at the bottom of the infographic so others can grab the code and easily share on their blog.

2. Contextual linking to your post as the original creator with a blurb about the infographic topic or why they are publishing it. Below is an example from a content marketing  infographic we created that was published on Mashable.

Conclusion

Whether you’re creating infographics for yourself or for a client, you should have a strategic roadmap leading from idea to promotion.  Following the 7 steps above can help get results that only the most successful infographics achieve.

What do you think is the secret to infographic success? Do you think we’ve left out any crucial steps for infographic creation? 

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Comments

  1. I have been compiling reasearch on this topic of how to create an effective infographic. So far this is spot on in comparison. However, I find that a majority of the infographics are very hard to read. Yes they look good but I lose the textual content too often. What are your thoughts on this.

    • Nick Santillo says:

      Hi Jake,

      From my experience, I have found that readability has a ton to do with the flow of information and how the content is presented to the reader. Aside from making sure font sizes and font types are easy to read at the published dimensions of the infographic, using visual cues to lead the reader from one point to the next seems to make the information easier to consume. One main goal is to cut down the use of text in the infographic by incorporating visualizations that can help explain the point through literal design or pictorial metaphor. I appreciate the feedback! :)

  2. Lydia Fabry says:

    Add emphasis on “pay close attention to spelling” as a graphic/infographic is set, unlike a blog post, like this one, that can quickly be checked and updated.

    • Nick Santillo says:

      Lydia,

      Editing the infographic isn’t as daunting as it may seem but to cut down on spelling errors in the beginning, we make sure the textual content that will be included in the infographic goes through a rigorous quality assurance test to find and correct mistakes before heading into design! Thanks for tip! ;)

  3. Infographics are such a big deal right now, jumping on this bandwagon is a good idea. However, there are lots of them that are poorly done. Your tips are excellent! Coming up with an idea that will be visually appealing and grab your audience’s attention is of course a top priority but finding a topic that will be relevant for an extended period of time makes a lot of sense. If you want people to share the graphic then the longer the graphic is relevant the better.

    • Nick Santillo says:

      I’m glad you agree with me, Jen! Its not just about creating pretty graphics, its about educating the reader as well. :)

  4. Lucas says:

    Spot on! Adding a personal touch to infographics nor chic statistics can make a huge difference.

  5. Effective infographics can present a lot of data in a simple but substantial manner. The info has to be reliable but at the same time, easy to flip through.

    • Nick Santillo says:

      Reliability is certainly key. We have found that adding a journalistic approach to fact-finding and sourcing has helped increase the authority of the content we produce. Thanks!

  6. Michelle says:

    Good points here Nick. I think an infographic is a pretty handy tool. And it’s convenient, easy and good on the eyes.

    • Nick Santillo says:

      Thanks, Michelle!

  7. The popularity of infographics has grown so that they are no longer something new and different. In order for your infographic to get noticed it needs to be great. The infographic topic needs to be well researched, have new and useful information, and have a nice design. If you can’t dedicate proper time and money to developing it, don’t bother.

    • Nick Santillo says:

      Great insights, Nick! We obviously agree with this point and aim to create a new perspective on a given subject with every piece of content, infographic or not, that we publish. Thank you for the comment! :)