Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Improve the Effectiveness of your Infographics

 We are surrounded by data everywhere we go – at work, at our banks, grocery stores, our tablets, etc. We have access to a lot more such information on the internet as well. However, not everyone has the aptitude or the time to sift through all this data to find relevant information. And more often than not, data can be intimidating to those who haven’t been exposed to it. Data analysts around the world must recognize the audience’s need for data insights which are intelligible, visually appealing and succinct. As an M.S. candidate at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program, we are learning how to use infographics to our advantage, to help us communicate our insights and recommend the right actions to our clients.

In an article on 
tips on designing effective Infographics on Naldz Graphics, author Marvi Ocampo talks about the importance of designing effective Infographics which help communicate the information in a simple yet effective manner. An infographic should be focused and simple and must accurately represent the facts from the data. Storytelling through visually appealing elements like a good design and bright colors are essential for capturing the audience’s attention in a manner that can be retained by them. As is the case with any visual medium, it is important to let the picture do the talking. The most impactful Infographics are the ones that use minimal text, and just the right amount of numbers to present relevant information in a crisp manner. 
Source: http://visual.ly/infographic-infographics-0
Longhorn Leads recently posted an article on 7 common problems with Infographics which highlights some of the key mistakes marketers make while presenting their insights. One of the problems discussed in this article is that most Infographics are not updated with changing data. Having out of date information floating around with your or your company’s name on it is a sure shot way to lose business and credibility as a data analyst. Nowadays, everything is presented through an infographic, whether it is pertinent or not. As intelligent marketers, we must be able to identify data that is relevant, i.e separate the wheat from the chaff and then present those insights in a manner that is comprehensible to your audience.

From my review of these two articles and my other research work at Northwestern, here are my three recommendations to make your infographics stand out in the crowd:

1.      Audience-friendly Infographics: Remember, not everyone looking at these Infographics is a data analyst. Using simple language, crisp data, and letting the visuals do most of the talking is more likely to capture your audience’s attention as compared to a data heavy and highly technical graphic. 
2.      Smartphone/tablet friendly formats: Marketers are constantly on the go and more often than not, access information on their tablets or smartphones. Making Infographics that are succinct and informational while keeping the size small is key to its effectiveness in today’s fast paced world of marketing. 
3.      Simplify data for your creative team: Do not leave data interpretation to your graphics team. It is important to simplify the data for the creative team, so that you leave no room for alternate explanations of the information.
In conclusion, Visualization of data is a key aspect of analytics and it must be handled smartly. They make an impact when they present us with fresh original information. Repurposing existing data and presenting it differently may impress first timers but it may lead to a loss of credibility within the industry. Providing fresh and perceptive insights will help you position yourself (or your company) a credible source of information.  Infographics are a powerful means to help relevant data reach a wider audience. Use them smartly!

Shreya Rai is a student pursuing a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications at Medill, Northwestern University. With three years of experience in media communications & PR for international luxury and lifestyle brands, she is excited to approach marketing from a customer centric and data driven perspective. Follow her on Twitter at @shreyarai



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