What not to do when creating infographics
You know that the human brain is visually wired, and that we process visual information 60,000 times faster than we process text. You’ve read everything about the persuasiveness of graphics, and you most certainly know all the reasons why our brains crave infographics. Now when you think you are fully prepared to infographically convey every bit of content that was ever created, you see the real challenges.
A whole lot more goes into creating an infographic than just placing colorful and decorative components together. It works a lot like writing – you need a narrative, a structure, great presentation, and may be, an atypical perspective. Though there’s a ton of information about creating infographics, we decided to put together a short list of things you should avoid.
Not having a story
You may have reams and reams of data, but not having a story simply defeats the purpose of an infographic. Research and come up with a narrative that looks at the data in a way that it has never been perceived before. Set a mood and a theme to complete the story. It also goes without saying that the data you use must be accurate. Presenting the right data in a compelling fashion is what you should be aiming for.
Throwing in too many colors
As #TheDress goes, colors are everything. However, too many colors, and the debate that ‘breaks’ the Internet will die before it even gets started. Stay with a neutral palette, picking two or three colors that suit the tone you want to set. There’s extensive research about the psychology of colors, at hand.
Try Adobe Color to create and save color themes of your choice.
Using mismatched fonts
Every font has a personality. Fonts have attributes that evoke an era, channel the masculine or the feminine, or create a certain mood. It’s best to use fonts with complementary moods and ones that belong to similar eras. You can also dabble with font sizes to highlight key words in a title. The key is to use typography as art, without creating a sense of dissonance.
Try Adobe TypeKit for some typographic inspiration.
Letting inconsistency creep in
Inconsistency can sometimes creep in without you noticing it. This is especially true of infographics that use complex data to tell an intricate story. Pay attention to any irregularities in the size and color of components that are related to each other; unless it’s a conscious attempt to have something stand out. The eye can effortlessly trace a path through your infographic when every element is created with a coherent style.
Cluttering and over-complicating
Simplicity goes a long way. A non-fussy infographic really works when you don’t want ‘the look’ to overpower the crux of the matter. Avoid including unnecessary details. If you have multiple interconnected stories to tell, clearly mark out your sections. Take special care with interactive infographics. Too many levels of complexity and you lose your reader. You want to counter infobesity, not feed it.
Flouting branding guidelines
The need for creativity notwithstanding, there’s not much leeway when it comes to branding. For all official communication, be vigilant when using colors, fonts, and logos. If you do have the opportunity to take an unofficial approach, take a starkly different approach and avoid a middle-of-the road design.
Using humor that doesn’t have a universal appeal
While Chuck Norris slams revolving doors, Rajnikanth scores 12 runs off a single ball. In other words, there could be a whole world out there that doesn’t get the joke, or worse, misinterprets your message. There’s a fine balance to be struck between a strong narrative and whimsical art. When in doubt, give out the facts, straight and simple. Or try some meta humor.
And if we were to be infographically speaking, here’s what you must avoid:
Infographics seem to work because they engage both your left brain and right brain; increasing cognition. Balancing visual and textual input then becomes key. There are, of course, the outliers that break every rule and still do the job. Those pieces are works of art that manage to be appealing without being overwhelming. For the rest of us, there are the lists of do’s and don’ts.
Needless to say, this is not a definitive list. If you think that you can add to this list, let us know.
For more information, watch:
Illustrations by Rakesh Baidya