Infographics are one of content marketers' favorite forms of visual content.
After all, you can pack a lot of information into one attractive, easy to digest, incredibly shareable graphic. The only problem is, content marketers don’t always make the best infographics.
Many small businesses don’t have an in-house graphic designer, meaning that content creators either have to look for freelancers, or make visual content themselves. With
With visual content dominating text content by 66 percent, businesses can’t afford to miss out on opportunities to present information visually.
Related Article: How to Generate More Valuable Leads With Interactive Infographics
I’m not a designer by trade, but I am a content marketer. This means that sometimes when our graphic designers are swamped, I have to put on the designer hat. To do this, I've had to learn the very basics of design--and practice them. You don’t have to be a designer by trade to make functional and attractive infographics, but you do have to be mindful of some essential design principles.
The quick and dirty design rule: avoid clutter in your infographic at all costs. Clutter makes for a confusing, visually unappealing infographic. You can avoid clutter by following these 5 essential principles of infographic design.
1. Use Negative Space in Your Layouts
Negative space is the empty space surrounding defining objects. Negative space offers pause between objects, making them easier to read and understand.
Many novice designers are prone to getting carried away by cramming too many icons, images and text into one graphic. It’s important to afford your text and visuals enough space to breathe. You may have to cut out some of your content or visual adornments if things look too cluttered, but the payoff will be worth it. Your infographic will look organized and professional if you use only essential text and a clean, sparse layout.
2. Use Contrasting Colors
Contrasting colors appear on opposite sides of the color wheel: warm colors like red, orange and yellow versus cold colors like blue and purple. There are two big reasons why your infographic should use contrasting colors.
First, using colors that are too similar will make it difficult to distinguish objects from each other. For example, using purple text on a blue background will make the text difficult to read. Using orange text on a blue background, however, will be easy to read. Similarly, using a light shade of text on a white background will be difficult to read as will using dark text on a black background.
Second, contrasting colors are eye-catching and visually interesting. They will make your infographic stand out from the page. That being said, it’s generally a good idea to limit your design to 2 - 4 contrasting colors per section--using too many can look cluttered and can distract from the information.
3. Don’t Overuse Texts and Fonts
Just as you might be tempted to use too many different colors, it can be easy to get carried away with playful texts and fonts. As a general rule, use a maximum of 2 - 3 different font styles. You could, for example, use one font for titles, one for subtitles and one for body text--as long as they are a similar enough style that they don’t clash.
What is most important is that your infographic design is consistent. Using too many fonts will confuse information while consistent font styles will make it easier to understand--clear titles, clear labels, and clear body text.
4. Use Icons Sparingly
Icons can communicate information in a fun, quickly comprehensible little pictogram.
Returning to the importance of leaving negative space around objects, the main thing to keep in mind where infographics are concerned is to not use too many of them and to keep the icons that you do use, relevant to the text.
Easily recognizable icons can be used as space-savers to replace text like company or product names, such as social media sites. Icons can also be used as thematic adornments that enhance the text, like putting a Christmas tree icon beside a title in a holiday-themed infographic.
What you don’t want is for icons to crowd or distract from the text. Icons should complement text, not overpower it.
5. Mind the Page Parameters
It’s good practice to leave at least a 20-pixel margin around the content in your infographic (one pixel on a standard design grid). Infographics where the text and images press right up against the edges tend to have a cluttered and unfinished look.
You may have to extend the dimensions of your infographic if the content is bursting at the seams. If you do lengthen your infographic, it’s generally better to extend the height, rather than the width, as most web pages scroll up and down. If you are restricted to specific image dimensions, you may have to cut out some content.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
If your first infographic doesn’t look as good as you want it to, don’t be discouraged. Even if you follow these basic principles, it can take time for you to develop an eye for design. Starting off by using an infographic template can be an effective way of training yourself to organize information visually. Once you have mastered simple designs, you can tackle more creative design concepts.
When in doubt, always have someone else look over your infographic. Even if they’re not designers, they will be able to tell you if your infographic is easy to understand or not. After all, the core purpose of an infographic is to make information easy to understand and visually interesting to read. Make sure the information is organized and uncluttered, then go from there.
Here is an infographic you can use as quick reference.