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Infographics are one of the most effective forms of visual communication in existence today. Educators are using them for classroom lectures and research projects. Project managers and business executives are using them to create visual reports. Marketers and journalists are using them to communicate more effectively with their audiences.
Why the surge in popularity in the last decade? Because pictures with text will almost always be more memorable than text alone. In fact, this study concluded that people who follow directions that include illustrations do 323% better than those who follow text-only instructions.
The question is, though: How can you make your infographics work for you and your brand when the Internet is overrun with hundreds of them (some not so effectively designed)?
Let’s take a look at some of the most creative trends in infographic design and show you how you can apply them to your own visual marketing content to make it stand out in a sea of visual noise. We will also take a look at the future of infographics and how you can use that information to improve your infographic content.
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Infographics have been around for a long time, way before the digital era. But, generally, when we talk about infographics, we are referring to those long vertical graphics that are all over Pinterest and featured in blog posts. Ever since the creation of simple online graphic creation tools like Visme and Piktochart, infographics have become quite popular across the online world.
A few years back, social media experts were saying that infographics had hit their peak as online readers started growing weary of seeing infographics all over the Internet. The reality is that everyone was tired of seeing bad infographics, not necessarily infographics in general. It only takes 8 seconds for the average person to lose interest in content they don’t find interesting. Considering that 93% of Pinterest users resort to the platform to research and plan future purchases, hard-to-process infographics will never get a second look.
When infographic fatigue started setting in, brands had to find more innovative ways of creating content that wouldn’t bore their readers. Infographics started including interactive elements like animations, video and GIFs, as well as eye-catching custom visuals such as illustrations and photography. Meanwhile, designers started moving away from the usual templates to create new and innovative designs.
Infographic fatigue still exists, although we should call it “bad infographic overload” instead. Bad infographics are scrolled over quickly without making any impression on the viewer. Well done and innovative infographics are still very relevant and will keep being so for many years to come.
Should you keep creating infographics to use in your content marketing?
Yes, as long as you’re doing it to add unique value to your content and not just for the sake of creating an infographic because it looks nice. Make sure the information is accurate, that the visuals are not off-putting and that they’re easy to understand. Did you know that including a well-designed infographic in your blog post will make it at least 12% more shareable?
To avoid an “infographic fail,” your visual needs to have a certain je ne sais quoi quality to it. As online infographic creators and DIY editors have evolved over the years, so have the possibilities of what can be accomplished.
For example, many infographics have deviated from the general vertical composition to meet the size requirements of certain social media channels. We are seeing more and more square and rectangular infographics, micro infographics, animated and interactive infographics, among others. Meanwhile, some infographics are made to look like websites, while some websites are designed to imitate scrolling infographics.
Here are some of the most notable cool infographic trends we’ve observed in the last year:
Infographics do not always have to be long vertical creations full of information. Sometimes a micro infographic is all you need to present a single piece of information in a visual way. Also, micro infographics are much easier to share on social media in square or rectangular formats. For an even more amazing result, add animation effects and save the infographic as a video or GIF.
As infographics have gotten more and more interactive, they’ve gradually entered into the realm of web design. As a result, we’re starting to see web and app development tools being used to create infographics. (Read more on the relationship between user interface design (UID), user experience design (UXD) and infographics here.
Of the following examples, there are two variations: infographics meant to be enjoyed in full website format and websites created to look like infographics. In some cases, you can’t even tell the difference!
It’s a good idea to experiment with this format if your business has important information that needs to be explained visually (and you also have the extra time and resources to invest in the development of a website-like infographic). This type of visual content usually has interactive buttons and hyperlinks to other pages or parts of the infographic to create a better user experience.
These are infographics meant to be enjoyed in a scrolling web format:
These are websites that were created to resemble infographics:
The social media channel of preference for sharing infographics has always been Pinterest because of its vertical qualities. Lately, though, more and more infographics are making their way to Instagram and from there to Facebook and Twitter. This trend is very new and we think it will take off in 2018. Since this trend involves only the size of the infographic, all other trends can be applied to it. For example, 3D design and animations can be used to create quite innovative square infographics.
Square infographics are great for providing quick explanations and facilitating fast social media sharing. Companies and startups can really benefit from this infographic trend since it’s so much easier to share!
Above are some of our favorite square infographics on the web right now. If you follow the hashtag #infographic on Instagram, you will see some pretty amazing examples, and every day there are more.
Some cool infographics you find online nowadays can include all types of animation effects. The animation can be a focal point or it can be a complement to the design. The best tactic for animating an infographic is to know when to use it.
Just ask yourself: Will the animation facilitate the transfer of information or will it distract readers?
The scrolling infographics we showed you above are full of animations and in-and-out effects of elements that move as you scroll. But these are not the only kinds of animations you can add to an infographic. You can animate charts and text.
When an infographic includes animations, it needs to be saved in a format that will show the animation to the viewer. These include .html5 which can be viewed on any browser, .gif which can be viewed on any device and .mp4 which is video format. It really depends on the kind of animation you applied to the infographic to know what kind of file format you need.
Above is an example of an animated infographic saved in .gif format.
Interactive infographics are those that users can interact with. This can be accomplished with clicks, hovers or even data input. The main idea is that according to what the user does on the infographic, the information will modify itself.
These infographics can have any shape: square, rectangular or long and vertical. The one thing they have in common is that they need to be in .html5 format for them to work. This style of infographic cannot be shared on social media (yet). Their special clickability features are best experienced in a browser.
Here are some examples:
Online infographic makers took a leap forward when they incorporated the possibility of embedding video and GIFs. With just an iframe code snippet, any video or GIF can be included inside an infographic.
These interactive infographics need to be either embedded on a site or email, downloaded as an .html5 or .gif file format. If downloaded as a .jpeg or .png file, the videos and GIFs are displayed as still photos. Therefore, infographics that include video or GIFs cannot be posted on Pinterest.
These might sounds like setbacks, but they really aren’t. These cool infographics might not go viral on social media but they will surely give your content a leg up over the competition. They can also be used as presentations in a conference or as innovative digital CVs.
The possibilities of infographic design have grown to such heights that an infographic can even be considered an example of multimedia design. For example, you can use online infographic makers such as Visme to embed all types of interactive and animated content into your visuals, including video, audio, GIFs and real-time content.
For example, there are infographics that have background music and audio explanations of different sections. Clicks can have sound effects and activate narrations. Animations can be used to show real-time activity on a social media channel or a counter of online sales in an e-commerce site.
As infographics get more and more digital, the integration of third-party content is becoming more prevalent. What exactly is third-party content? Well, videos and GIFs are third-party content, but so are forms, maps and real-time social media feeds from Twitter and Facebook. By embedding third-party content, your infographics can reach a whole new level. The information displayed can have so many different channels of expression.
Here is one example:
Another fun trend we have seen is the use of illustrated characters. Instead of displaying data on its own, characters are used as narrators or presenters inside the infographic. Another way of using illustrated characters is to use them as part of the imagery of the visual. Instead of relying on charts, arrow and flowcharts, characters can give an infographic that extra bit of personality and familiarity.
Another trend we have observed is the use of 3D illustrations. Infographics that use 3D elements are called isometric infographics and have a really different feel. Three-dimensional illustrations are often used to create one complete scene inside an isometric infographic, blurring the lines of the classic sections we are used to. This style of infographic will continue to rise in popularity in 2018, but only time will tell if it becomes timeless.
The hand-drawn style isn’t just a trend in infographic design—we are seeing it in all aspects of design. Since the hand lettering and script font boom, we have seen more and more hand-drawn style designs in all aspects of content marketing. When used in infographics, this style gives the information a really special feel to it. When used correctly, a hand-drawn style can get your cool infographics seen and recognized faster in the vast ocean of Internet visuals.
Including photography inside infographics is not a new thing at all, but the way it is being used can be really impressive. A lot of cool infographics have used a mix of hand-drawn-style design and photography to create some very creative visuals.
There is no need to try every single one of these trends with your own content. Pick a couple that fit your brand style and see if you like them and if they get you results. Of the trends we have mentioned, some are focused on digital-style infographics, like the use of animations and third-party content. Others lean more toward the artistic side, as in the case of static infographics.
Your choice of going more digital with your content greatly depends on your brand and product. If your services are geared toward connectivity, the web, responsive design and digital marketing, then digital style trends might be a better option. If you are an artist who designs cookbooks or an educator who prints out material, the more creative and artistic trends might fit your visual content better.
Of course, two different trends can be used together in the same infographic. An animated micro-infographic in .gif format can make a great impact on Twitter and Instagram (when converted to .mp4 format). Like we saw above, hand-drawn designs and photography go really well together, so imagine a video embedded inside the drawing of a television or a handheld device within that same infographic. The possibilities are endless.
When we looked at the trends above, we mentioned how some infographics are viewed as websites and how some websites are inspired by infographics. This trend has come about because the tools that website and app developers use have inspired the way infographics are made and vice versa.
These tools are called User Experience Design (UXD) and User Interface Design (UID). Website and app designers and developers follow UXD and UID rules to build their projects. These two practices are the backbone of how websites and apps function.
Ben Ralph from Beaker & Flint explains UXD best when he says: “User experience design is studying user behavior and understanding user motivations with the goal of designing better digital experiences.” UXD applies to every aspect of how websites and apps react to clicks and actions that users take. It is all about the user’s experience of a digital platform.
User interface design is more about how a website or app looks in accordance to the UXD. It follows the visual graphic aspect of the functionality of the platform.
UXD and UID work together to make sure a website or app not only looks good but also works well. As infographics are more and more digital, understanding how UXD and UID work will help you create better infographics and get better results from your designs.
The first thing to consider when creating an infographic is to think of the people who will be seeing it and interacting with it:
Once you have determined who you are designing for, it’s time to plan the flow of information.
After the UXD aspects have been taken care of, it’s time to build the infographic. This is user interface design.
The first and foremost rule of UID is to stay true to your brand. Take the necessary steps to follow your UXD outline while staying on brand in terms of color, fonts, shapes and visual strategy.
When you have finished building your infographic, consider putting it through testing before launching or publishing. Ask your co-workers to test out the infographic and ask for their opinions about their experience with it. Assess the results and tweak your design.
It should be of no surprise that infographics should also be mobile friendly, especially since people are spending an average of 69% of their media time on their phones. It is very likely that they will see your infographics on their smartphone before seeing it on their laptop. That is why your infographic should perform well on mobile as well as on desktop. It should look good, function well, be easily scrollable, readable and easy to follow on all devices. UID and UXD can help your infographics in this sense as well.
The best way to make infographics look good on both desktop and mobile is to not overload them with interlocking shapes and too many color and fonts. Be mindful of the size in which it will be seen on a small screen. If a viewer needs to zoom in to look at a piece of information, then it is too small. The ideal width for an infographic to fit in a phone screen is 630 pixels, a bit less than the regular 800 pixels of a common infographic.
As we have seen, the future of infographics greatly depends on the users and viewers. More than ever, infographics need to be functional as well as beautiful. They need to go the extra mile and explore possibilities that reach further than just the information being presented.
The future of infographics lies in the digital and interactive realm, where users are taken on a ride that they will enjoy, one that they will remember.
That is why it is safe to say that infographics will be more digitally driven in 2018 and beyond. Multimedia infographics will become more and more common as the year progresses. More infographics will be saved as .html5, .gif and .mp4 formats to maintain animations and embedded third party content. We might even see infographics used in virtual reality, in which users can interact with the information in an entirely new way.
The future of static infographics is a bit more uncertain due to the rise of “bad infographic fatigue.” We believe this style of infographics will see a surge in creativity and innovation with the use of isometric designs and branded illustrations. Even without interactivity, an infographic needs to flow well and make an impact on the user.
How will your infographics compare to the rest in the future? It all depends on the risks you want to take with your designs.
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