November 26, 2012 - FILED UNDER Visualization
5 Ingredients to Bake a Great Infographic
Everyone wants results, particularly if there’s a lot of time, money, and resources involved. This brings me to today’s post. You see with all of the recent the popularity of infographics over the past several years, I figured it would make some sense to help both designers and managers out with 5 critical elements that make up a good infographic.
Striking that balance of designing an infographic that pleases both the client and the design firm is an often elusive, but not impossible task. This is why I wanted to share these 5 tips courtesy of Aleksandra Todorova, the Editorial Director at Visual.ly. In her recent post she lays down some sound advice for both designers and executives in explaining what constitutes a good infographic.
1. The Idea
“All successful infographics start out the same way – with a great idea,” says Torodova. Having been part of several infographics, at Mindjet this year, I can attest that the idea is critical. If you have a killer idea then it will make the visual will be that much stronger. Don’t bother trying to dress up a poor idea. Your audience is smart, so treat them as such. To come up with that great idea, Torodova recommends trying to “think like a journalist.” Unless they are covering breaking news, they usually work in some type of cycle. “In January, it’s credit card debt hangover. February: love and money. March: taxes. And so on. Every year, the stories are similar, if not the same,” writes Tordova. They key is trying to find a useful and informative angle that really benefits your target audience.
Many data viz professionals, usually start with the data and dig for stories from it. It’s a great way to find those new and interesting stories that I was just talking about. However as Tordova aptly points out, “In the corporate world, many commissioners are unwilling to take on the risk that their data will tell a story they (or their CMO) will not like.” Instead, most projects often start out with an idea that the data is then used to support. This is ok if the idea is focused and flexible (i.e. we can change things if the data we find points us in a different or more interesting direction) if not, well then finding the appropriate data to support it can often lead you off into a wild goose chase.
3. Willingness to let go
“Too often, we end up with more data than is needed to make a single infographic,” says Torodova. Don’t be afraid, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you just have to be OK to exclude some of it from the end piece. Trying to cram too much data into an infographic results in an overly complex graphic that no one wants to read. “If you find it impossible to cut data out, get a fresh set of eyes. Here, your designer can be incredibly helpful: ask them what they would leave out if they were confined with certain print dimensions,” suggests Torodova.
4. Honestly & Humility
It’s really easy to think that your company’s new product or factory opening is interesting enough to warrant an infographic – news flash: it’s not. Honestly, as Torodova points out, unless it cures cancer or has huge impact on society no one will care. “Blatant self-promotion will also make it very difficult if not impossible to garner interest and pickup – not to mention, respect – from mainstream media and large websites,” says Torodova. A good tip is that even if you have really interesting, never before seen data, focus on it – not the branding.
Finally, it all boils down to your team – so trust them! Your researcher and designers know how to tell a good story, your data analyst knows what your data is telling you so trust them. Torodova puts it best by saying, “Being too controlling as a client or showing in any way that you do not trust the team will only alienate them – you will lose their trust, but worse, you will lose their creativity and eagerness to produce something that they, too, will showcase with pride.”