If you follow a lot of marketing Pinterest boards like I do, or if you read a lot of marketing blogs, you probably see a handful of infographics on a daily basis. But how many of those pieces actually make a lasting impression on you?
Probably not very many.
The truth is, creating an infographic isn’t that hard, but creating a great infographic IS. The art of taking data and telling an interesting story with it requires finesse, both from a content and a design perspective. Throwing interactive functionality into the equation complicates matters even further.
I’m here to tell you three things:
- Don’t panic.
- Fantastic infographics do exist out there in the wild.
- Interactivity can help you achieve infographic greatness.
In this article, I’d like to walk through 4 key steps that I’ve followed when creating interactive data visualizations in the past. I hope these recommendations will help you create your own sweet interactive infographics!
1. Start with Some Solid Data
Based on the name alone, you know that infographics are composed of at least two elements: info and graphics. The natural place to start when developing an interactive infographic is with the data or research you want to share.
There are a few key types of information you can draw on for an infographic:
- Proprietary data from surveys, product usage, customer profiles, internal activity, or something else.
- Third party data from other company’s surveys, reports, or presentations.
- Shared partner data from a company you have an established agreement with.
- Industry data from research firms or industry organizations.
An important note: Any data or information you use should be cited and linked to from your final infographic. If you’re using data from a partner or internal source, make sure to get the proper permissions before making any stats public.
2. Identify What Story You Want to Tell with the Stats
Okay, so you’ve pulled together a great collection of stats and soundbites. Now it’s time to figure out what story you want to tell with them. Will it be a success story? A cautionary tale? A romance? An educational piece? Until you decide on a narrative wrapper for your data, all you’ve got are numbers and facts. And numbers and facts don’t make very compelling reading, at least not for the average prospect or customer.
Once you have a concept for your infographic, it’s time to review your data and organize it into a story arc. Each stat should be presented in a logical flow with supporting context that helps connect each point. Often, it helps to break up your infographic into sections of related ideas. This will help your designer come up with the best framework for your content, and help readers scan for the bits they’re interested in.
3. Choose a Visual Theme
The picture you’ve decided to paint with your data needs an equally powerful visual theme to bring it home. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a visual theme:
- Branding: Does this piece need to reflect the brand style of your business? If you’re using data from a partner, does it need to pull in their branding as well?
- Audience: Your visual style should reflect the personality of your intended audience. For example, an infographic on corporate energy consumption would have a very different look and feel than an infographic on energy consumption for residential consumers.
- Distribution: Where are you planning to post this infographic? If you’re only putting it on your website or blog, it may make sense to incorporate graphic elements from your design. If it’s going multiple places, you may want a more neutral visual style.
4. Add Depth to Your Content
Static infographics are by nature one dimensional. You guide your readers through a quick journey from top to bottom, and you’re done. With an interactive infographic, however, you have the ability to make your content multidimensional. This allows you to tell a much richer, more nuanced story using your source data and facts.
Some of the types of content I’ve used to add depth to interactive infographic include:
- Real-World Examples: To drive home your stats, it helps to include real-world examples of the types of customers, results, or situations you’re talking about.
- Analogies: With abstract or complex stats, it can often help to use an analogy to help the viewer conceptualize what the data actually means. Pick something that your audience can relate to effortlessly.
- Quotes and Commentary: Data can be powerful on its own, but it’s even more powerful when an industry expert provides their perspective on it as well. Whether you use a quote from the researcher who ran a study, an audio snippet from one of your executive team members with their take on a trend, or a video clip of a thought leader talking about a topic related to your stats, this additional content can lend credibility to your message and help bring it to life.
Examples of Interactive Infographics
Now that we’ve discussed a few best practices for creating interactive infographics, below are some of our favorites.
Mashable & Emirates: Bay Area Architecture & Design
Mashable created the Bay Area Architecture & Design interactive infographic to help publicize Emirate’s nonstop flights from San Francisco to Dubai. The infographic incorporates data about some of San Francisco’s most famous architectural achievements and the fascinating stories behind them. Rather than force their entire narrative onto the main layer and detract from the illustrations, Mashable utilizes interactive buttons that allow viewers to drill deeper into the experience for additional information. This ensures the design and data look clean while still giving viewers a rich narrative.
eFront: Investor Cloud
Developed to promote their investor cloud, eFront’s interactive infographic uses playful illustrations and animations to take viewers on a “journey through the EIC process.” Balancing metrics with fun visuals and an easy-to-follow narrative makes eFront’s piece refreshing when compared to traditional financial marketing assets. eFront’s human narrative and fun visuals create a more engaging experience for viewers, while still providing them with the information needed to understand the investor cloud.
Red Bull: Air Race
Red Bull created this interactive infographic to promote their air race at the Texas Motor Speedway. The piece uses fun animations to visualize data in a way that’s both unique and engaging, while still providing viewers with interesting stats surrounding their planes and pilots. Red Bull also developed a narrative that uses relatable metaphors to make their data more approachable. By combining stunning visuals, interesting data, and a relatable narrative, this infographic is a great example of what merging science and art looks like.
The Bottom Line
Creating an interactive infographic isn’t all that different than developing a static print infographic. The additional complexity (and creativity!) arises in building out a more complex, multi-dimensional story around your data. Using images, videos, layered text, and audio snippets, you can deliver a robust, 360 degree experience that truly brings your content to life.