Infographics are a great tool for sharing information. Before you dive in, make sure you avoid these missteps.
Pictures pack a punch. Whether it’s a simple scribble, a viral video or an eye-catching infographic, images tell powerful and complex stories that are often difficult to convey with the written word alone. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” because…science.
More than 27,000 years before humans formed language, we communicated through painting. Today, we still rely on the more primitive—visual—part of our brains to understand and retain information. In fact, the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text, and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
What does that mean for marketers? Businesses should ideally incorporate a wide range of visual assets, into their marketing campaigns. A good place to start is with infographics.
One of the fastest-growing trends within the B-to-B space, infographics are liked and shared three times more than any other content. But beware of bad infographics. When done poorly, infographics may confuse your target audiences and even convey misleading information.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when designing your next infographic:
Too Much Information
The whole point of an infographic is to make it easier for your audience to digest complex information. Ergo, if your audience needs a PhD to decipher a jumbled mass of lines on a chart or a scramble of pictures and words, you’ve probably made a wrong turn.
This Princeton University infographic is supposed to highlight the percentage of the U.S. government workforce. But it also shows average 2001 salaries by profession and whether or not employees are permitted to carry a firearm. The end result is a confusing mish-mash of words and numbers that fill every inch of the space while saying nothing at all. Focus on conveying one idea and make it as simple and straightforward as possible.
Averages sound good on paper, but they mean very little if there are a few outliers that skew the overall results. Likewise, when it comes to infographics. Make sure you’re not misrepresenting the relationship between different values.
AIGA found this doozy of an infographic showing the percentage of people who have followed a brand on Twitter. Uh, you don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that the bigger number should correspond to the bigger bubble. Make sure that the comparisons make sense and that the visuals don’t overinflate numerical differences.
Wrong Kind of Chart
Pie chart? Bar graph? Venn diagram? The type of chart you use will depend on the information you are trying to represent. Just make sure you’re not mixing apples and oranges.
Take a look at the above infographic. Confused? It looks like they’re trying to show how much Google pays in total salaries by job title, not salary range, which makes no sense whatsoever. Be sure your graphic representation shows what you want it to. And, while you’re at it, get the numbers right. You don’t want your pie chart to add up to 175%.
Fixing fonts and replacing ugly photos will only go so far. Sometimes, you just have to know when it’s time to scrap an idea and go back to the drawing board.
Yes, “everyone” does it, but no one really wants to see it, at least not in so much vivid detail. Chalk this up to a what-were-they-thinking moment. I mean, what do we learn from this little gem? The textures and colors are, dare I say, less than lifelike. And, really, important moments in poop history? All I can say is pass the hand sanitizer.
Lastly, after you design an infographic, carefully review it to make sure you’re not missing what your audience sees, like this unintentionally racy infographic from USA Today demonstrating the dangers of heatstroke.
Like all content, infographics should tell a story. Make it a good one.