How to… create infographics with impact

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How to… create infographics with impact



Sketches of infographics
© Photo: Unsplash

By Nifty Fox

SUMMARY

You have completed a piece of research or an evaluation of your project. But how do you make sure the findings are accessible to everyone who needs them?

Sometimes written research and evaluation reports can be long, complicated, and even jargon-heavy. Infographics can be an effective visual alternative to communicate your findings. They can also help you to connect with people across different platforms.

This step by step guide was originally written and posted by Nifty Fox. It can help cultural organisations and researchers create effective infographics to tell the story of research and evaluation projects.

What is an infographic?

It’s the name we give to the representation of information, data or knowledge in a visual format intended to communicate quickly and clearly.

Two infographic posters

This infographic organises material visually and concisely to take a reader from problem to solution.

Why use an infographic?

Infographics help us understand information quickly. We can process visuals in 13 milliseconds versus 6 seconds to process text.

Our brains love visual information presented in a narrative fashion (22 times more memorable than facts alone).

Infographics are proven to drive research impact – Springer Nature (2019) found that published research which included a visual summary received 88% more views, and researchers who posted a visual summary of their work on Twitter got 170% more engagement than those who didn’t.

Who reads infographics?

Anyone who needs to understand your research quickly and do something with it. For cultural organisations and researchers, that may include funders, or policy makers, or lay audiences, or all of the above. Infographics are brilliant for communicating information in actionable ways.

When should I use infographics? 

Whenever you need your research to be understood quickly and acted upon.

How do I make an infographic?

The killer question. We explain the process step by step below, including suggestions for free support apps and further resources.

Step 1

Start with why.  Why is your research important, why should audiences care?

Step 2

Define your audience. Who are they, what do they need help with, how is your research relevant to them, what do you want them to do as a result of receiving this information?

Step 3

Determine your content. The best sequence is problem–solution–result.

Arrow showing problem solution result

Step 4

Decide on your infographic structure. There are lots of examples of punchy structures. Linear, path, skyscrapers, comic strip, mind map, visual metaphor - it’s all explained below.

6 different graphical illustrations of infographic structures

Left to right:  (Top) Linear, Path, Skyscraper  (Bottom) Comic Strip, Mind Map, Visual Metaphor

  1. Linear – straight up and down, Point A at top, Point Z at bottom. Clear, simple, great for keeping things quick and punchy, but can be boring for something with more depth.
  2. A path – shows more of a journey, different stopping points on the way, ending in bottom right corner with clear call to action. This one is great to show your research journey.
  3. Skyscraper – 3 columns, each column representing a BIG overarching point, and sub points/visuals to explain underneath. Brill for breaking up complex topics.
  4. Comic strip – wonderful for storytelling, each panel has a visual or stat to advance a narrative structure in chronological order. Visually great and very engaging. A word of caution: you’ll need to have a really well structured story for this approach to make sense.
  5. Mind map – big central idea in centre, other supporting points around it – this one’s a boss for when ideas are distinct from one another.
  6. Visual metaphor – storytelling on SPEED – using a graphic framework to demonstrate an unfamiliar concept in a familiar way. Are you plumbing depths? The image could be an iceberg. Working ever higher? A mountain does the trick. Maybe you need a conveyor belt, or cogs… anything that supports your narrative journey visually.

Step 5

Choose an accessible colour scheme - no more than three colours, good contrast. View accessibility guidelines on gov.uk for reference.

Step 6

Choose a font. Be consistent with it. Have a bolder point size for header, medium size for subheader, normal size for body text. If you go with more than one font, make sure they work together seamlessly, and be consistent with how you use them (for example, a serif font for all headers, a sans serif for all body text). Keeping them in the same visual family works well. This is a great article from Inkbot Design on best font pairings.

Step 7

Choose icons to make your points visual and make sense. Icons are meaning makers, not decoration: choose them wisely and make sure they’re relevant. Just as when you choose a font, they need to be consistent throughout the infographic (so, for example, if you use a hand drawn image, make sure they are all hand drawn). Here’s a handy list of free image sites:

Step 8

Want to include graphs? They’re great when handled with care. If you use them, make sure:

  • they tell the story
  • you explain them
  • you build them up gradually to prevent cognitive overload

A free graph-maker like RAW Graphs can be used to make them look smart.

Step 9

Put it all together.  Use PowerPoint, Canva or a design software like Adobe Illustrator. (Nifty Fox is running an e-training course on how to do this - sign up to their mailing list for more info.) Follow the three golden rules:

  1. Clarity – does it have a clear structure so your audience will know how to read it? Does it end with a call to action so your audience will know what to do with it?
  2. Content –  what are your key messages? What key takeaways do your audience need to remember?
  3. Consistency – have you kept to the same fonts and sizes, the same style of imagery, and the same colours throughout? Start with a bold title. End with a footer that states who you are, your institution, and contact information.

Step 10

Share it. Want some tips for how? Take a look at Nifty Fox’s social media guide.

This article was re-produced for the Centre for Cultural Value with the permission of Nifty Fox. Find out more about their work, including their Infotopia online training course which guides you through the stages of developing your own infographics.

Published: 2021
Resource type: Guide/tools