The Art & Science of Infographic Design

Infographics. They suddenly seem to be everywhere but are they actually able to increase outcomes are are they yet another fad? As a social media management firm, infographics are gaining a lot of attention from business owners seeking for new and exciting ways to reach consumers and clients but from the questions and comments we receive, it is apparent that there is also a great deal of confusion surrounding their proper use. Today we are going to shed some light on the art and science of infographic design. Are they worth the additional cost? When will they most benefit a company? Do they increase sales and which companies should avoid them at all cost? Keep reading to learn the answer to these and many other fascinating facts about infographics.

Defining Infographics – What they Are and What they are NOT

In the most simplistic terms, an infographic is an image which contains three primary elements:

  1. Text
  2. Statistical Data
  3. Graphics

Astute readers will quickly notice a few things; first, if its missing one of the three primary elements then it’s NOT an infographic. Next, even if it contains all three of the primary elements but they are not composed into a single image source, it’s also not an infographic. Last but not least, there is also an intangible quality to an infographic which is less about objective or measurable criteria and more about the artistic side of things; essentially, people know an infographic when they see one even if they don’t always understand what constitutes an infographic. That single quality – creativity – is also a major reason any given infographic will fly or fail with readers. Without creativity the remaining criteria are likely to fall flat.

Glaring Negatives?

Whoaaa! Did you spot the single most common objective to the use of infographics? Yes, it’s a single image and images are notoriously tough to market using SEO. In fact, millions of website owners moved from flash to other file types for exactly this reason just a few years ago; the inability to optimize content contained in image or flash files. So, why would any entrepreneur willingly put so much information into a single image file rather than a more readable version capable of generating enhanced SEO ratings? Even worse, creating an infographic requires creativity, a lot of time and effort plus content creation in addition to a unified whole. In short, the sum is greater than the individual parts but also a lot more time consuming and costly to create! Well, it’s a good question and shows a fairly solid understanding of how search engine marketing actually works but before you write off the use of infographics entirely, take time to consider the positive aspects associated with infographics.

Surprising Positives?

Despite the obvious negatives associated with infographics, there are several surprising positives but perhaps the single most important reason is that people like them…and they like them a LOT! Infographics make it easy for people to read a lot of information in a short period of time. They excel at making large bits of boring data entertaining and easy to digest by presenting a combination of statistics and associated eye candy capable of driving any data point home. It’s also clear and more concise than a boring old pie chart or simple textual explanation alone. Last but not least, infographics are versatile yet easily controlled making them easy to share. As social media marketing continues to increase the value of social sharing the end result of infographics on SEO is of less and less total impact…in fact, it may be approaching an equalizing point very soon assuming the infographic is well received, shared and linked via social media fans.

Who Benefits From Infographics?

Almost any business might benefit from the occasional use of an infographic if it is done right but some business entities will benefit more than others. Specifically, if you have a lot of complex data that needs to be delivered in an engaging, clear yet concise manner to a large audience then an infographic may be the perfect tool. Business concerns that work with information products or services will also find infographics disproportionately useful in making their content more reader-friendly for average consumers.

Who Should Avoid Infographics?

Infographics are not a DIY type of project? Not only do they require higher than average technical skills but the time, planning, creation and distribution of an infographic means they must be done right or risk losing a lot more than similar types of endeavors. The creation of a successful infographic requires quite a bit of advanced planning and preparation by the development team, a flow chart to assure readabilty and comprehension, design scheme, visual acquisition and placement, data and content creation, link viability, edit and review, final graphic creation and testing….just to begin! It’s no mystery why infographics are almost exclusively outsourced but done right, they are also able to provide a big bang for the buck when combined with social media marketing and distribution channels.

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