4 common (but easily remedied) infographic killers

Do your infographics garner more yawns than clicks? Here are several ‘chart junk’ pitfalls—and how to avoid them.

As visual content surges, infographics are dominating social media.

“However, most infographics are plain terrible,” says designer Bob Zeni. “They’re little more than chart junk.”

Here are four common culprits, along with proven fixes for each:

1. Failure to pinpoint a purpose. “Everyone wants to start writing cool copy or designing neat graphics,” Zeni says, “but jumping in without a plan is a common mistake.”

Instead, first determine how you want your infographic to engage your audience. “This is your unifying purpose,” he says. “It will determine everything from the copy you write to the images you select.”

Most infographics, for example, are intended to persuade, inform or entertain. Consider these common purposes before you begin:

Persuade

  • Tap the emotional appeal.
  • Build a targeted narrative.
  • Conclude with a pitch.
  • Offer a call to action.

Inform

  • Educate your audience.
  • Emphasize facts.
  • Offer a rational argument.
  • Show context.

Entertain

  • List celebrities, etc.
  • Entice users to engage.
  • Make it addictive.
  • Tell a story.

2. Failure to embrace a narrative. “Marketers often get caught up in data and calls to action,” says Zeni, “but the most powerful infographics are stories. That means they must have a beginning, middle and end.”

The infographic below, for example, includes an opening title, introduction, main body, recap and conclusion.

[Register for Ragan Training’s July 27 “Irresistible Infographics Virtual Summit” for more tips from Bob Zeni, Paula Lukowski and Joe Comstock (Omaha Public Power District).]

3. Failure to set high data standards. “Don’t just pull any numbers. Only use data that support your story,” says Zeni. “Take extra steps to ensure that every data point is accurate, clear, congruent and simple.”

He also recommends including at least three data points in your infographics.

4. Failure to pick the right images. “People often get fixated on one type of image based on infographics they’ve seen or that they’ve created for their organizations,” Zeni says. “The result is that they all start to blend together.”

The solution is to use a variety of image types across infographic campaigns.

“Illustrations work well if you’re looking for something interpretive and ‘not real,'” he says. “Photos convey emotion and what’s real. Icons are more symbolic.”

Whatever you choose, stick to one dominant image in any given infographic.

“Nothing kills an infographic faster than clutter,” Zeni says.

Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager. Bob Zeni (Ragan Consulting Group), Paula Lukowski and Joe Comstock (Omaha Public Power District) will reveal more data visualization tips in Ragan Training’s July 27 “Irresistible Infographics Virtual Summit: The 2018 Guide toProducing Visuals That Inform and Inspire.”

(Image via)

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