written by
Carsten Pleiser

6 design elements that make a successful infographic

Marketing Design 5 min read

Infographics are everywhere these days. Like PowerPoint presentations, they can serve to accent the core content of a piece of writing and can help someone understand key concepts by boiling them down into small, easy to digest chunks.

Infographics can also be used to convey information and hook an individual into learning more. They can represent an entry point for those looking to learn more about a specific topic, giving them the information in a concise manner that leaves them looking to learn more. This makes an infographic a great marketing tool as well as a vessel for education.

infographic design elements

What makes a good infographic?

It can be simple to throw together an infographic that contains the right information. It’s a little tougher to put together something that looks great and offers real value to the viewer. You need to balance aesthetics with clarity and readability, which is sometimes a little easier said than done.

A good infographic needs to be carefully created, taking into account design, copy (the writing that helps to drive home the key points), and data. Rather than copy and pasting in some relevant statistics, your infographic design elements should tell a story and everything you include needs to serve that story in some way.

6 infographic design elements that make it successful

Ask yourself; would you remember an infographic that was plain text on a white background? Would you retain the information from an infographic with a busy layout and lots of pretty pictures? Of course not, but rather than focus on what you shouldn’t do, let’s look at what you should pay attention to among infographic design elements.

Colours

Bright colours are a sure-fire way to grab someone’s attention; however, they can also overwhelm a reader. The last thing someone needs while trying to disseminate information is a headache caused by that garish neon orange text on a bright yellow background.

As a rule of thumb, infographics should stick to a maximum of three colours that are attractive, but not overbearing. Use colour as a tool to highlight key points and to neatly accent design features such as text boxes.

Fonts

Your font choice could make or break your infographic. As much as we may laugh at poor old Comic Sans, there’s a reason it’s been such a commonly used font since it was first introduced. It’s clear, it’s simple, it’s readable. There are no fancy features, just letters as you would expect someone to write them on paper, and that’s exactly what you need for an infographic.

The perfect font should be readable in both large and small print, and that includes numeric characters. That means simple fonts like Arial or Helvetica that are clear but still maintain an authoritative and respectable tone. Keywords and sentences can be bolded to emphasize, but you should never use different fonts in an attempt to show emphasis. Cramming in multiple fonts can make your infographic look unprofessional and leave you with more of a community fair vibe rather than a source of truth.

Layout

It’s not always possible to present a structured list that can naturally guide the reader through your infographic. Sometimes, the story of your infographic is a little more complex and requires careful design to ensure the reader follows the intended flow.

You should make sure that the layout guides you through the information in a way that feels natural and conveys the information in a structured way that helps to drive home your key points.

Graphics and images

An infographic shouldn’t be a wall of text that the reader could see elsewhere. If someone wanted to read a book, they would read a book. Someone looking at an infographic is trying to gain valuable information within a short amount of time. This is where graphics and images come into play.

Graphics and images are fantastic tools to help visualize the core concepts you’re trying to convey. That’s not to say you should cram as many images on your infographic as possible. Each image needs to be high quality and, most importantly, relevant. Every graphic and every image should clearly link to your message, rather than putting a lovely photograph of a flower to make the infographic look pretty.

Gestalt Principles

For those unaware of the Gestalt Principles, they are principles of human perception that describe how humans group similar elements, recognize patterns and simply complex images. There are many overlapping principles, but the six most common principles designers refer to are:

  • Similarity: Similar elements are visually grouped together regardless of their proximity to each other. For example, a chessboard uses white and black squares, but your mind will focus on all of the black squares or all of the white squares and group them by colour, rather than position.
  • Continuity: The human eye will follow the simplest path when viewing lines, regardless of how they were drawn.
  • Closure: Put simply, closure in design is when you’re given a partial image and it’s up to your brain to fill in the blanks.
  • Proximity: Proximity in a design sense can separate elements, without the need for hard borders.
  • Figure/Ground: The figure/ground principle is an extremely useful tool to convey what you need to without over-complicating design. Commonly, it uses negative space to give the view a secondary image upon further inspection.
  • Symmetry and order: This principle refers to how the brain perceives ambiguous shapes in a simple and quickly understandable manner.

Designers often use these principles to organize web content to make it both aesthetically pleasing and simple to understand, which is exactly what you want an infographic to be.

Content

Of course, as great as your infographic design elements might be, it needs great content to make it successful. You need to make sure that everything you include in your infographic is relevant and concise.

If you’re struggling to make your infographics pop, why not get some help from the experts? The Design Buffs can give your infographics the impact they need.

Infographics
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