Infographics: What are they and what makes a good one?

Infographics are pretty much what it says on the tin. They are graphics, often incorporating both visuals and text, in order to convey information. They can range from simple visual representations of cooking recipes to fairly complex maps of biological processes and anywhere in-between.

A good infographic can deliver complicated and sometimes hard to follow information in bite sized, manageable chunks that aid understanding.

There are, in my opinion, three main elements to a good infographic.

1. Simplicity

The first is that it is visually simple. No matter what the information it contains is, a really good infographic should be easy to follow and the best way to do this is with clear, simple visuals. Photo elements can work but a simple, clean illustration can work better – it limits distraction and only adds what needs to be there.

Red list
Red list of endangered species. The illustrations used in this infographic are very minimalistic, conveying exactly as much information as is needed while still being recognisable.

2. Colour scheme

The second is colour scheme (although this can technically fall under the first). A suitable colour scheme can increase the ease with which the infographic can be read. For example, you don’t want white text on a yellow background or you won’t be able to read the text. Likewise you don’t want colours that are too garish or contrasting or you risk drawing attention away from certain areas. Complimentary tones and consideration to emphasis points make for an easy and focused read.

biodiversity
Biodiversity and climate change . The colour scheme here is very complimentary, making it both pleasing to the eye and easy to follow.

3. Limited Text

Lastly, use as little text as possible. The best infographics can explain something with little to no text. They say one picture speaks louder than a thousand words and it’s true! Sometimes there’s no avoiding a word here or there but using as few as possible and being concise with any text is vital. This is a graphic, not an essay!

That being said, sometimes it is necessary to include a large amount of text but you should still endeavour to use concise, simple language. No one is going to take the time to read a block of text on an infographic, so make it manageable.

Know your coffee

Know your coffee. This one works well by making a few words go a long way and letting the images do most of the talking.

 

Infographics are a great communication tool for a range of purposes. Bearing these three rules in mind it is possible to create some visually interesting graphics that will reel people in and get them interested in what you have to say.

 

Published by OwenL

Natural sciences communicator.

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