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If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, What's A Picture With Words Worth?

by  David Dwyer on  24/09/2015    789 Reads

Infographic Design | Good design begins with the information you want to get across

Infographics are a great way to explain complex information in a visual style.  They’re colourful and they get facts across in bite-size chunks, which is welcome in our information-overload lives.  They also make complicated issues easy to understand – provided they’re well designed, of course.  Whether you have a mass of statistics to put across to an audience of non-statisticians, a technical process you need to explain, or even a Sale you want to promote, a good infographic does the job with impact and pizzazz.  A bad one will just leave the reader puzzled and confused.  There’s more to those clear, apparently simple images than meets the eye.

There’s a range of questions to answer before putting virtual pencil to paper.  For example, who is the infographic aimed at?  How do you want the reader to progress through the information?  What result are you hoping to achieve?   You can only decide the form of the final graphic when you know the answers to these questions.

Good infographic design begins with the information you want to get across.  It’s sensible to understand it thoroughly before you even start to think about design.  Although an infographic looks like an image, it is based on text and the text underlies the whole design process.  You’re still telling a story, whether it’s the demographics of visitors to Benidorm or a flow-chart of the construction of a micro-chip.  The story has to be clear to the reader; the pretty pictures are there to aid understanding and allow the reader’s brain to make connections more easily.

So the first stage in designing an infographic is deciding which bit of the story to start with.  That can be difficult, if you’re faced with a pile of raw stats.  You have to work out a narrative.  What’s your lead? What should come second?  Sometimes there are several candidates for each position, so the process takes time.  By the time you’ve sorted your data into a coherent storyline, you often have a reasonable idea of how the infographic should look: whether it should have a recognisable image, charts or simple blocks of colour, for example.  So you get your rough design on paper.

At this point a wise designer will get a second opinion about the layout.  It’s very easy to get too close to it: you know what you want to convey, but are you really getting the data across to the uninitiated reader?  Better to discover the bits that don’t work at this stage, rather than when you’ve spent hours polishing it.  People read data in many different ways and some will make connections that you haven’t seen, or not understand what to you seems perfectly clear.

Clearly, creating a simple infographic isn’t simple at all – so Inspire has just launched an infographic design service.  Our talented and experienced designers can help you turn your data into eye-catching, easily-understood graphics that people will read, remember and share.  Contact us today to find out more.

David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David’s academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.


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