Few things that make Infographic great that creation comes down to 3 things: what to say how to back it up (data), and how to say it (design). Let’s look at this process step by step:
1. Write a brief.
Start with the idea. Ideas are more important than design – just like the inhabitants of a building are more important than the building itself, no matter how beautiful. Don’t start with design or technology, you can’t let the tail wag the dog. Here is an example.
2. Get to the essence.
Every meaningful idea can be expressed in one sentence. A short sentence. If you can’t do it, you don’t understand it. Rewrite it until you can’t subtract any more words. If you are still left with a lot of text, it may be because you don’t think infographics work. Then be honest with yourself and write an article instead. Don’t hide your article inside an infographic – it’s obvious. If you are making the graphic, most of the text has to go.
3. Find data.
It’s usually unclear which data you should find in the beginning, so start with “metadata”. Gather data about the data. Metadata will tell you what you can and can’t find. Before you dive into the data itself, predict what insights you might find. It doesn’t matter if your prediction is right, but just having one will give your thinking structure.
4. Find insights.
Insights are answers to a meaningful question that most people didn’t know about. What is the question? Take your idea and rephrase it as a question. How do you know what most people don’t know but want to know? You need to sit back and sense what the collective intelligence out there would find useful. You have to read people’s minds. That is what writers do – study their readers. You are a reader, too, though. What would you want to know?
5. Create a narrative.
Now that you found the insights, the story behind them will start revealing itself. You need to connect those insights into a narrative. Connect the dots.
After that choose a visual analogy. You don’t need to tell your narrative, though. You need to show it. The best way to show something is to show something already familiar. Intelligent design is about making it easy for the reader to make connections. People connect with what they already know well. Examples of visual analogies are a winding road (timeline), a pyramid, a branching tree.
6. Create a layout.
To merge the visual analogy with the text and the data you need to lay everything out so it looks like one big thing from a bird’s- eye view. A good layout has a clear navigation path. When in doubt, you can put a “Start here” arrow. A good layout has a clear hierarchy – the more important pieces should be bigger, brighter, or higher, etc. A good layout has plenty of empty space. Empty space is good, it’s free, and it helps the reader focus on what matters. Leave more empty space. Resist the urge to fill.
Illustrations create an emotional connection. They are memorable. Error on the side of minimalism, though. (see step by step illustration of Iota Kickstarter infographic)
8. Test on different devices.
Even the best infographics are useless if you can’t see them. Test readability on devices and media you think your readers will use. It’s your job to foresee how they will view your graphic.
9. Make it beautiful.
Never add anything to an infographic just to make it beautiful. Information is beautiful by itself. You can highlight that beauty by color coding things, making bright connectors that are easy to follow, creating textures where you want the eye to focus.
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