Infographic design: what is it, and how do we create awesome infographics? Let’s take look at some of the ins and outs of what infographics are, data visualizations, and what makes an infographic really work well. We’ll discuss some of these ideas and listen in on what some other wonderful content creators have to say on these subjects as well.
So let’s dig in and talk about infographics.
What Are Infographics?
So what are infographics, anyway?
Take a look at the word itself—information and graphics. However, this is more than graphics that happen to be “informational”.
All visual content, in theory, is information. Visual communication is at the heart of what we do, as graphic designers. For example, color, line, shape—the elements of art and principles of design are very informational by nature. If we look at food packaging, for example, it’s typically designed to communicate to us, as consumers, on multiple levels. It needs to look appealing to us. It needs to be easy to open and use. It needs to have the information that we both expect and require.
But infographics are different, in that information is the core of what they are. When working with infographics, we are essentially making the information, data, or diagram the star of the show—our focal point.
Infographics are usually composed of multiple data visualizations—or data that is depicted visually. This could be, for example, something like a graphic, chart, or timeline. However, an infographic is not necessarily exclusively data visualizations. We may also have additional supporting data, and multiple data visualizations may contribute to an overarching communicative goal or purpose.
And this is, perhaps, what separates a basic data visualization from great infographic design. We could create a basic chart, and it could serve its purpose; it could visually portray data. Or we could create an infographic with strategic design elements and visualizations that craft an engaging and memorable narrative.
How to Make Infographics, as Told by Designers
Now that we’ve looked at what infographics are, how do we successfully create one?
As designers, we all have a different process—that’s why it can be so rewarding to take a peek at the workflow of our peers. I had the opportunity to ask several designers for their thoughts on design process, as it applies to infographics.
Check out these insights from designer Anton Aladzhov:
Pour everything in first. Put all the text with simple hierarchy (heading, paragraphs, accents) first on the page and then mould it. Add stuff, remove stuff, change sizes, cut pieces. It’s like a sculpture – you take the big ugly chunk of clay and start moving stuff around, making changes and small decisions along the way until it looks right – and then you rest, before doing another push to make it look awesome.
Start Black & White. Everything design-wise I do, I always start with black & white. It’s a good way to establish hierarchy early on and put ideas around the canvas for illustrations, icons etc. Color is a big deal and if you’re kinda bad with it (like I am) it helps to leave it for a later stage.
Know your tools. I use Adobe Illustrator (sometimes just for the laying out part). When you’re good with all the shortcuts and stuff – it’s so much quicker to move things around, change text size, breakup text and vector graphs / charts, recolour the whole piece etc. But whatever tool you use – be like home – comfortable, knowing that when there’s a mess you can clean it up etc. Really helps with coming up with not so box-y layouts.
I think we can all agree on the importance of the principles of design, especially when it comes to infographics. Perhaps even more so than other types of design, it’s so important that the information is conveyed in a clear and easily accessible way. However, if it’s not engaging, we potentially lose our audience.
Phongpat, a designer from Bangkok, had an interesting perspective as well, particularly on the topic of visual communication:
Use images or symbols instead of text to convey as much meaning as possible. For example, [if working with] information about different animals, you can use images of that animal type instead of text. Readers will be able to understand more easily if the information is displayed as images or symbols. For a good infographic, readers simply look and understand.
Choosing color shades for your design also plays an important part, such as content related to nature. You should use shades of green or light shades etc. Choosing an inappropriate infographic style or theme for information leads to information that is less interesting and misleading. If you have valuable information but don’t present it well enough it may turn out to be junk. So choose the right style (theme) for the right information.
What do you think makes a strong infographic? How do you approach these design challenges? I’d argue that it’s all about visually interpreting information in a way that not only pushes the communicative qualities of the data, but also does so in a way that engages and interests the viewer.
Let’s take a look at some insights from other designers—their thoughts, their work, and insights on what makes infographic design not only work, but work well.
I am a Graphic Designer who started her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Electronic Design and Multimedia at a Design School in Cologne, Germany and finished the degree at City College. I developed a passion for Graphic Design because I wanted to fuse my creative side with my interest in computers and the resulting digital process. The first time I used Photoshop was when I was 16 years old where I manipulated pictures for fun.
Infographics differ from other types of graphic design because the content is more structured and less of a creative process. It is still important to abide by the design principles like hierarchy, composition, color theory etc, but the content has overwhelming priority. I would also say infographics are one of the more complex forms of graphic design since it has the ability to condense huge amounts of information.
Infographic Design becomes successful when the viewer can grasp the content within the first view seconds. Infographics can look overwhelming at first, that is why the design has to be engaging, and as simple as possible.
There are a lot of different ways to [portray] information out there. Find out which way is the most logical to go: Would a timeline view help? Is it statistical and needs percentages? Which information is most shocking and can keep the viewers attention? Answer as many questions as you can, then design with those in mind and reduce the design to a bare minimum. Simplicity is key.
You can view more of Anna’s lovely work here:
I’m a 29 years old UI & Visual Designer, based in Sofia, Bulgaria. For you Bulgarians out there I co-host the only design podcast that’s in Bulgarian. So feel free to check it out – www.designofthings.fm.
I’ve worked in various fields of design over the past 12 years. So it’s safe to say I’m a know-a-bit-of-everything kinda guy, rather than being a master at one thing. Since I like illustration and I have a Fine Arts degree, when I was contacted to create my first infographic it was something I’ve never done before but I jumped at the opportunity to do something new. I think this is very important – say you can and figure it out later.
Graphic Design means different things to different people. But the main purpose of it is to communicate a message visually in a clear manner. So in that sense infographics are the perfect embodiment of graphic design. Maybe one thing that’s pretty different from a magazine or brochure design, let’s say, is how deeply you need to actually understand the content to present it in a right and accurate way.
From the top of my head the most challenging thing with this type of design is to make it visually interesting and different enough, at the same time keeping it coherent and as if everything “belongs”. Something also challenging for me was including all the text that has been given to me. You know clients… if they thought of something – they want it in there.
Fitting everything on a page with size restriction so that it’s readable and not cramped up is pretty tough to pull off. Some solutions would be breaking it up into chunks, substituting parts for visuals / icons… or if you can reduce the text – always do.
The only things that can make [infographics] UNsuccessful is if it’s boring and people are not stopping to explore it, and also if it’s inaccurate or confusing. Everything else is, to some degree, a pass in my book.
Hey, it’s like everything – you gonna suck at first (wink). If you’re already a decent designer and know your tools – you’ll suck less. But if you keep working on them, I promise each try would give you a better result.
Check out more of Anton’s wonderful work here:
I am a graphic designer who lives in Bangkok. That is a fun and lively city. There are plenty delicious street foods and I love it : ) I graduated in Computer Science and I was a web developer since I was in university. The creation of website has a design work part called UI. Since then I have been involved in the design and am interested in this work.
Before I focus[ed] and work[ed] on infographic design I also work on general graphic website design. My first infographic design job started with the assignment I assigned from my client who is my friend. The assignment was short, but there was a lot of information and information that I had to show and combine in a single A4 image. It was difficult for me at that time. (actually it is still difficult 😛 ) It requires a lot of thought more than my graphics skill, but I love it. Finally I accomplished it and started to like the infographic design since then.
Infographic design and general graphic design have both the same and different parts.The same part is you have to use design skills and composition to create your work. The different part is that infographic design
You must remember that information is always important. You must understand all the information first. You must be able to summarize all of the information into small pieces. You must change the information that is difficult to understand to be easily and quickly understood. Use as much of the interpretation skills as the use of design skills
In my opinion, there are many factors [that make an infographic design successful].
[It] must be able to communicate information correctly. A good infographic can display all important information and is easy to understand. [It should] attract the attention of customers or readers. For example, infographic that wants to communicate with children must have bright and colorful images.
Don’t try to put in too much information. If you have a lot of necessary information, separate them into sections. Last and importantly is simplicity. Simplicity is always important.
If you want to design infographics, but you are not a graphic designer, remember that infographic design has two main parts. The first part is data design. Even if you are not a graphic designer, you can design data. That is interpretation and thinking design. Part 2. The conversion of data to images, all you need is a pencil and a sheet of paper to start working on it. Creating infographics is not difficult. Maybe you’ve already done simple infographics in your daily life, such as drawing or writing memos, to-do lists, etc.
You can do it right now, for example, starting with writing a simple graphic based on your daily life within a week, the food you eat, the time you spend exercising each day and so on. Whenever you think of a set of data, try to convert it to images. The rest is design skills that you can learn more by yourself. Don’t underrate your design skills.
Someone once said “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s true, but a good infographic must be clear and accurate so that readers understand only the same meaning.
You can check out more of Phongpat’s wonderful works, right here!
My name is Hannah Young and I live in Seattle, Washington, USA. I’m a senior college student pursing my BA in Graphic Design and Studio Arts. After graduation, I hope to get a job in marketing design. I’m passionate about collaborating with others online in order to grow as a designer. Eventually, I’d love to start my own freelancing company and take design commissions full time.
Over the years, I’ve developed a love for page layouts and infographics. I find it satisfying to design simple illustrations and arrange them with text in a visually pleasing format. Creating infographics differs from other kinds of design because it deeply integrates both text and images. I’ve come across many challenges in this area, especially when it comes to choosing a consistent theme. I’ve found it’s important to choose a font that goes with the infographic’s illustration style, as well as selecting appropriate colors that flow well together.
For most infographics, I’ve found it wise to steer away from complex illustrations and focus on simple, flat designs. A successful infographic creates a coherent, visual experience for the reader. Often, the eye gets tired of reading the same line of text. A viewer is more likely to read an article if it contains interesting visuals to break up the text. If an illustration is hard to understand (such as a complicated chart with too much data), the reader will scratch their heads and skip the article.
My advice to other creatives who are looking to design infographics is not to overcomplicate things. Simplicity makes infographics flow well. The key to a successful infographic is choosing a consistent font, cohesive color scheme, and clear illustrations that fit with the infographic’s desired information.
Check out more of Hannah’s lovely work here:
My name is Andrey. I was born, grew up and live in the stunning city — Saint-Petersburg. I’m 29 years old and I know everything about infographics. I learned about microstocks in 2013, the same year I discovered Adobe Illustrator and have been working with it ever since. I tried out several graphic styles but never got the desired satisfaction from my work. It was the infographics that conquered my heart!
I find inspiration everywhere and anytime, even while I’m stuck in a traffic jam or having dinner in a restaurant. This is why I never leave my home without a sketchbook and a pencil. I keep on learning new styles and techniques; in the past year I started creating isometric illustrations, cartoon characters and motion design. Despite having lots of graphic works in my portfolio, I am convinced that it is just the beginning, and more records are yet to come!
Imagine that we need to visualize the process of electricity generation. We can do this in completely different ways. We can represent this process either in the form of infographic with repeating geometric elements and thematic icons, or in the form of stylized illustrations. Both are infographics in spite of absolutely different appearance. Infographics can be made in any style – 3D, isometric, cartoon. I think this is why it is so attractive. You can use all your creative potential to make beautiful infographics and at the same time if you are great at making illustrations in certain styles, you can create stunning infographics in these particular styles, why not? 🙂
My infographics are now different from what I created 5 or even 3 years ago. Now infographics should be “clean and clear” and contain catchy additional elements that can be easily visually perceived. Thin lines, slight shadows, simple geometric shapes and combinations of these elements are perfectly suited to this purpose.
A viewer must immediately understand the meaning of the infographic he or she is looking at, what the infographic is trying to tell. Also, don’t forget about such fundamental things as composition, color theory, and that empty space is also a design element. Speaking of stock infographics, it’s obvious that a customer can change the colors and arrangement of the elements as he wants, but initially he looks at what you offer, and if he sees that your colors work, he believe that his colors will work too.
Someone [has said] that success is 10 percent talent and 90 percent hard work. Practice your skill every day, monitor trends, look at the work of other illustrators and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Pay attention not only to the appearance of the illustration, but also to its technical side.
And most importantly, don’t stop learning, the trends are constantly changing and you must also be changing in order to keep up with the trends.
Check out more of Andrey’s lovely work here!
Thank You to These Wonderful Designers!
A big thank you to Anna Pinger, Anton Aladzhov, Phongpat, Hannah Young, and Andrew_Kras for sharing their work and insights with us—it’s such a pleasure to watch and listen to how other creators work and approach these design challenges! Thank you!
Please consider checking out more of their wonderful work!
What Do You Think About Infographic Design?
How do you approach creating infographics? What are some of your favorite ways to approach these design challenges? Thanks for joining us on this conversation about infographic design—good luck with your own creations! Happy designing!
Want to learn more about infographics? Check out these free tutorials!