Awhile back, I wrote about the difference between data viz and infographics. In short, an infographic is more of a story, and a data visualization is more of a tool. (For more, see original tip here.) Seems nonprofit communications folks everywhere have jumped on the infographic bandwagon. The thinking goes something like this: if they won’t pay attention to what we have to say about climate change, homelessness, or education in written form, maybe they will if we say it in pictures. So they hire a graphic designer if they have some extra change in their pockets or they DIY with programs like Canva or Spark. But an infographic is no cure-all for your communication woes. Pictures don’t always beat words, particularly confusing pictures.
In my experience, the most effective infographics . . .
1) Are simple. They employ just a few visual elements (pictures or charts), words, and numbers. I’ve seen many infographics which are a jumble of clip art or icons labeled with numbers. A few might work. Too many and you’ve lost your audience.
2) Have a clear point of entry. They include visual signposts that tell the viewer where to look first and where to go from there. Some do this by making the infographic narrow and long creating a clear pathway from top to bottom. Some use numbers or arrows. Without a marked trail to follow, my eyes jump around an infographic. And because no clear message or story emerges, I give up.
3) Use just a few colors. They use color to direct attention to the most important elements of the message. Black and white and one accent color often works well.
See other data tips in this series for more information on how to effectively visualize and make good use of your organization's data.