How to make an infographic: strategy and useful tools

What is an infographic? It is a tool that uses graphics, icons, and text to summarise numerical data in a visual form or summarise information, or even focus attention on those concepts that you consider most important. Understanding how to make an infographic allows complex notions to be presented with simplicity, attracting more interest due to its more visual than textual component. Ultimately, it has the power to optimize any kind of communication.

In this article, I will explain how to make it effectively, without having design skills, but using the free tools that the web makes available (e.g. Canva), including some programs that allow you to make an animated infographic and video.

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How to make an infographic: strategy and tips

Before moving on to the actual creation, it is necessary to structure a design process to reflect on what is intended to be communicated, starting from the idea that there is no best infographic model, but that each creation is successful when it hits its business objective, i.e. the motivation for which it is made.

This is because an infographic allows for different tasks and there are many examples of its use in different sectors:

  • in online advertising;
  • for teaching;
  • company to promote their business and find new buyers;
  • in e-commerce to present the characteristics of a product;
  • in marketing in order to summarise the results of a promotional campaign;
  • in personal branding, to describe one’s skills and experience in a CV.

In the following, I outline the work steps to be taken into account in its construction. This design method is also valid for constructing other types of content since any communicative action must be supported by a strategy in order to increase its effectiveness as much as possible.

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Define objective and target

It all starts with a question: why am I making this infographic?

Having your objective in mind is the first step in understanding which elements to use within your project: any communicative action needs a point of reference to create meaning effectively. In parallel, it is important to know who the user of your infographic will be, so as to shape the ‘tone of voice’ of your document and establish which elements will attract their interest. Defining the target audience is also key to defining which dissemination channels you will use to promote your message.

Collect data and information

If you do not have the necessary data for the creation of your future infographic, you will probably have to get it from the web, my suggestion is to use authoritative sources, such as Istat and Eurostat. An interesting tool for quickly gathering a lot of data is Google Public Data Explorer, a Google tool with which you can obtain knowledge from sources all over the world.

In any case, always cite sources, so as to give your infographic more authority. If the data you want to communicate is of a different nature, it is advisable to divide it into different categories, so that you can find the best graphic for each of them.

Structure the content

We have defined the objective, target, and topic, now we need to structure our information graphics, building a visual path that aids user experience consequently, I suggest you divide your future infographic into thematic blocks so that you understand where to insert each element that builds your communication. For this division into sections, you need to keep two considerations in mind:

  1. We are in the West, so the visual direction of the user is from left to right and from top to bottom;
  2. Each channel you use for your communication will have a different format and your infographic will have to adapt to those measurements. This means that if you use the content to make a post on Facebook, the format will be 1200 x 630 pixels, while on LinkedIn it will be 1200 x 1200 (for a company page) or 520 x 220 (for a user profile), and on Instagram 1080 x 1080 for a post in the feed. One should always inform oneself, however: the dimensions on all platforms change quickly, so look on their information page to find out what the current measurements are.

Starting with the format of your spreadsheet, draw vertical and horizontal lines to divide it into a grid. In each section, insert a specific thematic block, according to the reading process you want your user to perform.

For example, in an infographic dedicated to returning to school after the lockdown phase, each section could correspond to a certain behavioral tip, with a nice icon, a title, and a descriptive sentence. Or in content dedicated to the E-Commerce sector (as in the example image), each section adds further guidance, starting with the market value, then moving on to the sections where people buy online, then analyzing the skills and positions most in demand to work in that field.

This division, in addition to guiding the user’s concentration, also allows you to structure the design of your visual project: an infographic must have a harmonic composition, which means that the different sections must be placed at regular intervals, with the same distance between them, and may contain shapes and colors that are repeated throughout the composition. To return to the back-to-school example: the icons of each segment will be different, but of the same size, the title of each tip will be the same color, as will be the distance between all the tips, achieving a balance between full and empty spaces.

In the article, I propose the use of some free tools that provide pre-built templates, so you don’t have to design your own infographic from a blank page. Nevertheless, it is useful to have in mind how you have to structure the information, to understand how to make an infographic that is pleasant to read, giving your message more effectiveness and professionalism. In all digital communication, a strategy is necessary so that you can always hit your communication targets.

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Simple and attractive design

As with the production of all digital content, there is room for creativity. However, it is better not to overdo it so as not to distract attention from the objective at hand. To achieve an effective infographic, a creative balance between eye-catching graphics and ease of reading is indispensable so it is right to strive to make the design attractive, but there should not be too many images, just as there cannot be too much text, nor an excessive variety of colors ultimately essentiality should be preferred: an infographic that is too complex loses its effectiveness.

In order to achieve a simple and attractive design, certain rules on the elements that make up an infographic must be kept in mind.

Charts

how to make an infographic example

Charts make complex numerical data readable at a glance, there are different types (pie, bar, line, 3D square, timeline) and each has different characteristics. To make an infographic you do not necessarily have to know all of them since the creation programs I will describe in the article have their own database from which you can choose which graph to insert: you can explore their archive and insert data in several graphs so that you can display them in different formats and then choose the most suitable one for your communication objective.

Icons and Images

The images that accompany your infographic determine the tone of voice toward the audience you are addressing. The tone of voice also depends on the target audience for your message: for an infographic dedicated to school students, you might use more informal icons, whereas in a curriculum it is preferable to maintain a more serious tone. Either way, a balance is essential, a multitude of icons risks confusing the user.

So choose well what to use: images are decoration, but each of them must have a functional role in the message you intend to communicate. The tools I am going to show you already have their own archive of images, but if you don’t find the one you are looking for, try looking on Flaticon, a good site where you can find many free icons.

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Color

Color is another element that can guide a user’s enjoyment and draw concentration to certain elements. It can be used for the titles of each thematic block, or to fill geometric shapes where description texts can be inserted. However, it is not advisable to use shades that are too different from each other, and very bright gradations are not recommended, so as not to tire the eye of the beholder and induce him to abandon the reading. Pretty colors are recommended and, if you want to combine several different shades, the hues must give a sense of harmony and not clash with each other. If you do not have graphic knowledge, I recommend the use of Color Adobe, a site that illustrates how best to combine different colors.

Text

In an infographic, the text is useful to provide more detail and aids user interpretation. Nevertheless, it must be kept to a minimum. First of all, it is important that your content graphic has a main title: it immediately gives the user the necessary information about what he or she is about to see. Then each thematic block can have its own subtitle, accompanied, if necessary, by a small description. As far as color is concerned, it is better to prefer black or white, in the case of texts inserted within colored blocks. I also recommend not writing in a very small font, especially if you plan to use your infographic on social media, where it will often be viewed from mobile phones. Finally, if you want to combine different fonts (perhaps one for the title and one for the description) it is essential to choose fonts that go well together. If you do not have graphic design experience, I recommend Fontpair, a platform that indicates which are the best combinations between different fonts.

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Useful tools for making an infographic

As we have seen, making infographics for free is possible, relying on the tips I listed above and being willing to learn and experiment. To support you there are also very interesting online tools that also make pre-built templates available. It still takes a little patience: the first few may not come out the way you wanted, but when you become more familiar with it, you will get better and better at it and you will be able to start doing work that satisfies you.

Here are some applications to make infographics for free.

Canva

Canva is one of the most popular tools for creating graphics to use it for free, you need to log in by entering your details. Once you have signed in, you will have your own profile and can easily log in via your Google Mail or Facebook account. As soon as you log in, type the word infographic in the ‘search’ section: a number of free templates will materialize, divided according to purpose and sector (educational, corporate, video curriculum).

If you are at your first experience, I recommend you choose one of these and customize it, since with Canva the degree of customization is very high: you can change fonts and colors, edit, add and remove graphics, as well as insert images and external icons that the tool will store in its internal archive. Those who are already experts, on the other hand, can try their hand at creation from a ‘blank sheet’, bearing in mind that the only working format of the free version is a vertical format of 800 x 2000 pixels. In addition, the tool allows you to easily insert animations into your information graphic, making it more attractive. Finally, the free version of the program allows you to create an unlimited number of designs, which can be downloaded in many formats (JPG, PDF, or PNG).

PiktoChart

PiktoChart works in the same way as Canva, i.e. with a choice of numerous pre-built templates and an intuitive interface, although only in English. But it allows a greater degree of customization of the charts: clicking on each chart opens a sort of internal Excel in which the data to be inserted can be precisely defined. In addition, compared to the previous tool, those who want to build infographics from scratch can choose customized measures as well as formats hosted by major social media. However, there are also flaws: in the free version you can only download it in PNG format; furthermore, it is impossible to remove the watermark (logo) of the program from your work.

Visme

Visme allows fast registration, as well as the possibility of choosing some free templates and building your own infographic from scratch. However, its interface is more complex than Canva, and if you decide to build your own infographic from scratch, you do not have the same choice of formats that PickoChart allows you.

I have included it among the programs to try because you can download your work in different files (JPJ, PDF, PNG), and, above all, the tool has plenty of animations to add to your infographic, with a preview section where you can see your work. However, to download your project in video format, you have to upgrade to the paid version.

Tool for creating animated infographics

Animations can be inserted into infographics, and in some cases GIFs can also be introduced, resulting in what is called a Gifographic. An animated infographic is more difficult to produce, but gets a greater response from the audience, as the presence of animated content remains more imprinted in the user’s mind have already seen some applications where you can insert moving elements (Canva and Visme), but in this paragraph, I have selected two programs that allow you to create more complex animations for free.

Infogram

Infogram is an interesting tool that stands out due to the mass of animations that can be inserted into an infographic. In addition, you can directly insert GIFs into your project, choosing the one you are interested in from Gimphy’s database. The only drawback is that the free version does not allow you to download your work, but only to share it via social media.

Genial.ly

Registration at Genial.ly is particularly simple, just go to the site and log in via a Google or Facebook account. Within this platform, you will find the ‘inspiration’ section, a database with a good number of templates composed of animated elements. Not all of them can be used for free, however; those available are indicated by a blue circular sign in the top right-hand corner. The chosen structure is fully customizable: for each unit, it is possible to vary the type, time, and speed of the animation. Finally, the program also allows you to insert elements with which the user can interact, such as buttons and menus. Unfortunately, in the basic version, one’s own infographic is not downloadable, but one can only share the project via social media.

Video infographic

A video infographic is even more appealing than an animated infographic because it is a short film with a greater narrative capacity, which makes it more enjoyable for a user. This is why since 2016 it has been possible to upload cover videos on Facebook in different formats, albeit with some time limits realizing this type of creation is much more elaborate, and it is usually best to seek help from professionals working in this field. sites that offer the opportunity to make infographic videos initially for free, later upgrading to a paid version. Among these, I recommend you try Animaker, a program with a fairly simple interface a large number of templates to choose from, and the opportunity to customize the starting project. The tool allows the free creation of a limited number of video infographics, without having to upgrade to the premium version immediately.

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Conclusions

The world of infographics is complex and fascinating. As we have seen in the article, creating such content does not require the same skills as a designer, but it is essential to have a clear idea of what your communication goals are. Once one has understood one’s intentions, it is a good idea to develop a communication strategy, in order to best create one’s own content with one of the tools made available by the Internet. Awareness, strategy, and technical knowledge are the principles of digital work, in building an effective infographic, as well as in the creation of any other content related to web marketing.

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