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Before we get into the specifics of infographic design, let’s make sure we know what we’re talking about. The terms “data visualizations” and “infographics design” are often thrown around interchangeably. But to us, there’s a definite (although subtle and arguably tiny) difference.
We use the term “data visualization” to talk about the category as whole: any graphic that displays and explains data in a visual way. When we talk about “information graphics,” we’re thinking of data visualizations with a flow to them: maps, signs, charts, anything that presents complex information quickly and clearly.
So it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that “infographic design” is simply “designing infographics.” But that’s a bit simplistic, isn’t it? A bit like saying “graphic designers design graphics.” So let’s delve into what you need to get started with infographic design.
Or, wait. Should you even be doing infographic design yourself? Isn’t something only a professional should do? Don’t you need design experience to create an infographic?
Well, in the recent past, the answer would have been, of course. Today, with the number of online tools available to anyone with an interest in infographic design, the interested layperson can jump into it fairly easily.
That said, it’s not unlike the world of photography. Just because you have a camera app on your smartphone doesn’t mean your photos will end up in a museum. So don’t think that you can slap anything together and call it infographic design.
But there are certainly a lot of tools and programs that can help someone with an interest, a bit of an eye, and a desire to communicate data in a way that someone else will understand.
We’re going to assume that you have some design experience, perhaps have even designed websites and brochures, and that you’re looking for tips to creating an effective infographic design. If we’re wrong, and you have no visual or design sense at all, remember that you can always hire a professional.
Let’s start by thinking about the most important aspects of the infographic design process:
1. Flow. We’re not talking about a chart of numbers. There should be some thinking behind the way your data is presented so that the viewer is walked through a story.
2. Colors. Infographics first need to catch the eye before they can be read.
3. Data. Infographics need precise data and good analysis. That’s why there’s a code of ethics about infographics.
4. Sources. Infographics aren’t pretty pictures that spice up a brochure. They present information, and that information needs to be sourced.
5. Words. Don’t forget that infographic design is a mix of writing and graphic design. Make your case concisely and clearly.