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Nayomi Chibana

Written by: Nayomi Chibana

March 2, 2016

Before and After: 6 Infographic Makeovers (and What You Can Learn From Them)

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Bad or inaccurate infographics are known by a specific name: They’re called junk charts. We’ve all seen these circling around the Web, possibly on one of our social media feeds. Just take look at the number of sites dedicated solely to these bad visuals: here, here, here and here.

These ill-conceived and poorly designed infographics commit several cardinal sins of infographic creation, which include any of the following:

  • Including too much information
  • Inaccurate charts
  • Lack of a storyline or narrative
  • A generic appearance
  • No citations or source list
  • Not relevant to your audience
  • Poor headlines that don’t engage or interest readers

To help you avoid these mistakes when you take on the challenge of creating your first infographic, we’ve provided a few examples of truly bad infographics and explained how to redesign them so that they can be published and presented to the world.

1 Organize information in a logical way.

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This badly designed infographic on the evolution of Apple (of all things!) makes a ton of mistakes you want to avoid.

First of all, the excessive use of a bright cyan makes it overwhelming for the reader, not to mention that the use of gradients, both in the header and body, is extremely outdated.

To make things worse, the information is sloppily placed into two columns, which is not helped by the use of unattractive clipart.

To fix this problem, we’ve changed the layout and rearranged elements so that they flow in a more logical manner, as part of a timeline. Second, we replaced the inelegant clipart with cleaner and modern-looking icons. Also, the font was changed to Helvetica Neue, which more accurately reflects the look and feel of the brand.

Next, we separated the text blocks by placing them into cards, as is done above, but in this case, the dates are anchored to the cards so that they don’t seem like they’re floating around.

For your next timeline infographic, try placing dates and icons within cards to achieve a sense of cohesiveness and organization.

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2 Stick to a few fonts and colors.

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One of the most common mistakes non-designers make when creating their first infographic is using too many fonts and colors. Just take a look at the messy infographic above as a case in point.

Not only does it err on the side of good design by using more than five different colors and fonts, it also fails to achieve visual hierarchy; there are so many different elements vying for your attention, it makes it hard for the reader to know where to look first.

To fix this, we’ve reduced the number of fonts to two (Lobster and Arvo) and emphasized important concepts by using differing font weights and styles, rather than resorting to half a dozen fonts.

Also, we highlighted important words in the text by changing their color, without overdoing it and sticking to a max of two or three different hues that are also reflected in the icons used. Finally, we organized the sloppy header by eliminating the unnecessary word cloud.

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3 Use icons instead of bullet points.

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Even the White House is not exempt from creating bad infographics. The one above, for example, makes the mistake of using large paragraphs of text without any visual elements, except for the check marks, which don’t communicate any message on their own.

So we got to work and gave this a quick makeover to give you an idea of how this could be improved. First of all, we separated the text blocks into sections to make the information easier to digest.

Next, we added some icons to effectively summarize concepts and help the reader quickly get a gist of the main points.

Finally, we decided to make the text a little less overwhelming by using variations of a lighter font, in this case, Montserrat Hairline and Montserrat Light.

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4 Grab attention with the header.

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Here is another infographic that makes a ton of amateur mistakes. First of all, there is no clear header as the title and subtitle are mixed together with the actual meat of the topic. There are huge chunks of text that don’t entice readers along with a very bad stock photo of a depressed person, which only serves to depress readers instead of attract their attention.

To fix this, we separated the important header information from the rest of the infographic. In this way, we have a clear title, subtitle and introduction. Next, we eliminated the unappealing stock photo and replaced it with icons to illustrate each point.

To avoid repelling viewers with long paragraphs of text, we shortened these and stuck only to the necessary points. Finally, we selected a couple of more legible fonts, with open forms and a more inviting look. We used Roboto Slab, Open Sans Semibold and Open Sans Light.

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5 Select appropriate fonts and colors.

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This single-chart infographic makes the mistake of reinforcing a common stereotype instead of elucidating an issue and revealing new, unknown information. The mark of a good infographic is its ability to not only unveil the trends hidden beneath piles of numbers and figures, but to put data into context.

To fix this, we eliminated the stereotypical image of the overweight Italian who loves to eat pasta and replaced it with a more relevant icon.

Next, we reorganized the header so as to grab attention with a clear message in the the title and subtitle. As in the example above, this meant separating the main header message from the rest of the graphic. In this way, the reader quickly discerns a visual hierarchy and narrative flow, starting with the title and subtitle and then leading down to the body of the infographic.

Also, we modified the color palette so that it reflects the topic in question. Since Italy tops the list of pasta consumption, we decided to go with the colors of its flag. Finally, we also selected fonts reminiscent of Italian cuisine to reinforce the main message of the graph. In this case, we used Leckerli One, Nexa Rust (both fonts with more personality than the neutral fonts uses above) and Raleway Black.

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6 Replace stock photos with icons.

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This infographic is not only disorganized, it also gives very little information about each nutrient while occupying valuable real estate with tacky stock images.

In our infographic makeover, we decided to organize the information by reordering it into sections. Next, we eliminated the cheap stock photos and instead used colorful and clean icons. Also, we decided to make the infographic a bit more informative by adding a description of each nutrient and where to find it.

Since the topic was food-related, we applied an eye-catching and fun color scheme, which also aids in the reading process since it helps to visually divide each section from the rest.

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What about your infographic? Do you have any bad examples of infographics you want to share? Or do you have any questions on how to improve your own infographics? We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Just drop us a line in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you.

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About the Author

Nayomi Chibana is a journalist and writer for Visme’s Visual Learning Center. Besides researching trends in visual communication and next-generation storytelling, she’s passionate about data-driven content.

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