Part two will give you practical insights into the process, typical elements of an infographic, such as headlines, context and the all-important story, or narrative, your infographic tells. Plus, I’ll share some tools for creating infographics, use of color and typography and more.
This two-part article is just the tip of the info-iceberg. A web search will yield many more resources, tutorials and articles about the topic. Add in a bit of playing around with a pencil, paper and your favorite software and you can soon be adding this lucrative service to your list.
And now, the rest of the story.
Part One left off with some thoughts about developing a story, or narrative, for an infographic. So, not to leave you narrative-less, here are a few thoughts about developing a narrative for your effort.
• Write A Killer Headline
Craft a headline, (and possibly a sub-head) which conveys your infographic’s concept and will pique the reader’s interest while being relevant to your objectives. This is no small task. This exercise can be rather laborious or come in flash of inspiration as you’re going through the material, data, etc.
• Provide Context
What is the relevance of the information presented within the design? How will this infographic be useful and of value to the reader? What background is important to the audience and will provide additional clarity? Be sure to tie the narrative to the data and make that connection clear to the audience. Finally, depending upon your infographic’s goals, try to keep a conversational tone. Imagine sitting with an audience member and simply talking to them about the information.
• Follow the Yellow Brick Road
An infographic follows a logical path. At least it should. There’s a beginning (the contextual intro), a middle (the data and/or information) and a conclusion. There may also be a need for what they call in sales-speak, a call to action. The call to action prompts the reader what to do next. This might be to contact the company, visit a website, request more information, change an opinion or other action.
• Opinions? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Opinions!
For the most part, especially if you’re in the journalistic world like I was, make a point, but don’t state an opinion. That’s just bad form and can easily seem biased. When that happens, whether true or simply perceived, the integrity of the data being presented can be called into question. You and your client don’t want that. Check the facts and keep things journalistic. Like the 50s – 60s television show Dragnet character, Sergeant Joe Friday always said, “The facts, ma’am. Just the facts, ma’am.*”
*Contrary to popular belief, what Sgt. Friday actually said in an early episode was “All we want are the facts.”
• Is the Infographic Sharable?
Sharing is paramount for infographics success. Including remarkable or little known facts, statistics and other surprising content will help your infographic’s sharablity and can significantly extend its reach.
Designing and Producing the Infographic
After creating a knockout narrative that will have your audience in awe, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and get the infographic put together. So, roll up your sleeves, fire up your favorite artsy application and dig in.
Hold on, Rembrandt. To do this right, you’re probably going to need some additional software. One which is utterly non-twenty first century. You may not need all, but here’s a shopping list for you:
Web-based Infographic Creation Tools
If your stable of design tools leaves you wanting, there are numerous online tools to create infographics. Some are free and other come with a price tag. Here’s a look at just a couple:
From their site: “Piktochart helps you to create infographics, share and get results in 3 easy steps. No design experience required.
The site provides a wide selection of high-res and print-quality thematic graphics. Owning more than 1000 graphics, our added feature of SVGs simplifies your action of exporting higher resolution images. What’s more, share these beautiful infographics with your customers via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ with just a click away.”
Inspired by the founder, Stew Langille’s time at Mint.com, Visual.ly is another online tool for infographic creation that allows users to create infographics quickly by tapping into its portfolio of storyline templates.
From their site: “Visually’s mission is helping you create visual content that rises above the noise. Our platform seamlessly connects designers, journalists, animators and developers with clients, featuring cloud-based collaboration tools that allow us to deliver high-quality content at unprecedented scale and speed.”
Before you jump in and start your finished work, it’s a good idea to create a wireframe version. Like creating a wireframe for a Website, infographic wireframing is a stripped down version without all the bells and whistles. As such, it lets you concentrate on the information presentation.
OmniGraffle is a multi-faceted Macintosh tool for creating wireframes, flow charts, diagrams, UI and UX interactions.
Balsamiq Mockups is a rapid wireframing tool designed for collaboration. With its drag & drop simplicity, Balsamiq Mockups is a handy tool for creating sketchy wireframes similar to using a pencil.
Charts & Graphs
You’ll need something to create accurate charts and graphs. Sure, you could wing it visually in Illustrator or similar app, but the result might be off a bit, or a lot.
A drawing application is your best option for laying out and designing your infographic. If you’re particularly masochistic, you could use Word or similar word processing application that handles charts and graphs, albeit poorly in my opinion. It’s your choice.
To manipulate, edit and, ultimately, turn the mundane into utterly cool, an image editing tool is needed. The following are a start.
A Few Words About Color And Typography
Color is a powerful thing. It can be used to signal action, influence mood, and cause physiological reactions. Red, for example, has been proven to raise blood pressure while blue has shown calming effects.
When choosing a palette for an infographic, use color choices that support the design, information and narrative. It’s a good idea to use no more than three colors in the design. One is the background color. The other two are used to break up various sections and also add emphasis to hooks and major elements.
In addition, Visual.ly provides a useful guide to the psychology of color for designers.
Like color, typography can also have physiological effects. For instance, some fonts may give the impression of stability, strength and security. Others may appear light and fanciful. Still others may seem humorous or casual.
Many, if not most, graphic designers have a few thousand fonts on their computer. The untold story is that they typically only use three, give or take. We all have our favorites. Mine are Futura, Caslon 540 and Caxton. Here’s where it can get tough. When designing infographics, or any graphic design project for that matter, resist the temptation to use your tried and true favorites. An infographic’s typography should be based on audience needs and how well a font supports the design, core message, readability and emotional reactions.
One More Point
As mentioned, infographics are hot right now there doesn’t appear to be any end in site. Infographics offer a significant opportunity for those graphic designers who choose to pursue it. It may be a challenging ride at first, but in the end it’s certainly worth it.
But what do you set as a fee for your efforts when creating infographics. A fair question. The answer is something like pushing a rope due to the complexities of the project. Looking around the Web shows fees range from just a few hundred dollars to thousands.
Your best bet is to begin by listing all the tasks and expenses needed to bring the design to life. Next, assign the estimated number of hours needed to each item and multiply it by your hourly rate. If you don’t know your [real] hourly rate, check out my Hourly Rate Calculator. Based on your specific criteria, the spreadsheet will calculate your [authentic] hourly rate. This number is the lowest you can charge and still make a profit. If you go under that figure, you be losing money on the project. Feel free to go up, though.
Finding your hourly rate is, or should be, an internal thing. However, it’s useful for estimating an overall project fee.
Designing and producing infographics isn’t for everybody. But then, some designers aren’t cut out to create logos or websites, either. You can’t, or shouldn’t be all things to all clients.
Tackling infographics isn’t easy. To do it right, you’ll need to be part Picasso, part Sherlock Holmes with a touch of Bill Nye (the Science Guy) tossed in for good measure. Some of the best candidates for the title of Infographics Designer have that unique combination of creativity and analytical thinking. They’re comfortable using both the right and left sides of their brains to solve a problem.
If you’re one of those creatively analytic graphic designers who relishes a challenge designing infographics might be for you.
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