Infographics have long been the darling of the content marketing and social media world- just Google 'Pinterest infographics' for an endless deluge.
And while there are plenty of examples of great infographics, there's also a lot of really bad infographic design that leaves us going "huh?" Over the last decade, infographics have gone from being useful data visualization tools to a lazy marketer's shortcut for sharing content without any real meaning.
In a world already struggling with information overload, infographics are supposed to cut through the clutter, not make things worse! Despite what some may say, infographics aren't dead - yet. But if your business wants to truly maximize their value, you need to get serious about design, content and message.
Why Infographics Still Matter
On a daily basis, the average American is bombarded with five times more information than he saw fifteen years ago, according to this fantastic infographic from NeoMam Studios. We consume 34 gigabytes of information (100,500 words) on an average day outside the office - imagine how much you process when you through work emails into the mix!
Today's information overload leaves us with even less time to make an impact. Studies show we have less than 10 seconds to clearly communicate a proposition if we want to gain a few minutes attention. More than half of all users who view a web page spend less than 15 seconds looking at it. When it comes to information consumption, download speeds are not the problem; it's our brains. Our brains process visual information much faster than text.
On average, it takes 50 seconds to read 200-250 words but only 1/10 of a second to process a visual scene. Great visuals convey maximum information in as little time as possible. Here's how to make sure your infographics fall in the "great" category rather than the bad or downright forgettable.
- Craft a story around your data. Approach infographic creation the same way you would approach writing a white paper: you need a clear statement of purpose, supporting facts, and a conclusion. Check and double-check your sources: confirm the veracity of all information you plan to publish. Next, present this information in such a way that it follows a clear narrative. What are the major points you want to make with your infographic? Narrow your focus down to two or three key points and supporting data.
- Invest in quality. Many of the problems with today's infographics could be resolved if folks were willing to invest in quality design that adheres to basic design principles. However, thanks to the plethora of freelance designer websites, infographics are easy to get for just $5 a pop (or even free!).Unfortunately, the old adage "you get what you pay for" is especially true here. Skimping on design means you end up with an over-cluttered "graphic" that fails to convey any useful information. Great graphic design doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg; you just need to be smart about where you source your designers.
I like crowdsourcing sites such as Designhill and 99designs, which allows users to hold design contests and compare submissions before making a selection. You don't have to hire an expensive design firm to produce your infographics, but you should work with a professional rather than trying to make them in house.
- Content first, SEO second. Infographics are the quintessential example of shareable, likeable evergreen content. They're great for giving your brand traction and earning links inside and outside your industry. But if you're using infographics as the default for boosting SEO and driving web traffic, you're doing it wrong. Infographics are one tool in your content toolkit, not a panacea for sluggish site traffic. Be sure infographics are part of a diversified content marketing strategy. For example, infographics are also great
Bottom line: You don't have to remove infographics from your SEO toolkit, but you do need to use them responsibly. Investing in quality design may cost a bit more upfront, but you'll get more mileage from it in the long run. For example, you can also pull small bite-sized data bits from a popular infographic and share this over social media, further driving valuable clicks and engagement. Just be sure you've got a clear narrative and quality visuals in place first.