Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of data designed to present complex information clearly. The idea is that most people process patterns more quickly visually than they do through written or spoken word. Pragmatically, people will typically take the time to look at a graphic before they will take the time to read blocks of text. If you are interested in developing your own infographics, here are five steps to help you get started along with a list of automated tools to make the process even easier.
1. Plot out the information you want to communicate and find the relationships.
You can do this on a whiteboard, with sticky notes across your desk or with mindmapping software. Identify the main ideas, then arrange them in physical relationship to each other.
2. Create visual anchors and identifiers.
This part can be really simple. Select graphic elements to guide the eye and give clues to context. Choose basic shapes and icons over complex illustrations. You can find a wide variety of vector-based icons at istockphoto.com and thenounproject.com for purchase.
3. Choose your fonts and color palette.
Most infographics use a simple color palette and limited fonts to make them easy to process visually. Leverage transparency or varied shades of a color to provide differentiation and to promote and demote information. The same applies to fonts. Using a single family and leveraging different weights of text can allow you to punch some ideas while relegating others to lower priority.
4. Get inspired.
Do a Google image search for "infographics" or add coolinfographics.com to your RSS feed, and don’t be afraid to play. Pick a small, low risk project and get started.
5. Build the graphic.
This is most easily done in a graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Fireworks, Corel Draw or the free Karbon14, but you can also create them in MSPowerPoint, MSWord or Keynote for simple creations. There are multiple tools that automate this process to make it really easy to design infographics. Many have a basic level for free so that you can test drive, then charging for more features. Check out tools like Visme
, and Canva