Here at White Book Agency, we like pretty things. Pretty places, pretty spaces, pretty designs, pretty things. So naturally, we like infographics because they tend to make information…pretty. Just like one should be “more than just a pretty face”, infographics serve up research, analysis, statistics and more. We like to describe them as concise, informative bits of pretty and we like them so much that we dedicated a Pinterest board to infographics. In addition to their visual appeal, infographics are cool because they quickly cut through the clutter with quick snapshots of information. We live in a extra busy world and being able to see and learn interesting tidbits quickly is always a plus, and is always a great way to open the door to further exploration of a subject/topic.
Below is a guest post from Christopher Wallace, VP of sales and marketing for Amsterdam Printing and fellow fan of the pretty, we mean, infographic.
What’s Your Point?: Designing Infographics for the 10 Second Attention Span
In the five minutes since I sat down to write this post, I got an email asking me to listen to my cousin’s band, and a Facebook alert that I’d been tagged in a photo. I clicked through to the band’s MySpace page and gave a few songs a ten second preview, simultaneously flipping through the Facebook picture album of a wedding I attended last month, giving each shot only the time it took to click to the next one.
Somewhere in the midst of it, I was reminded of a piece of stand-up by comedian Lewis Black I heard last week, where he fumes about scenarios like this, screaming, “No wonder we have Attention Deficit Disorder!”
He’s right. For most of us, our work hours are a constant battle between distractions and the task at hand. A byproduct of that has been the decline of email marketing as an effective tool, since we’re constantly in a quest to quickly hit ‘delete’ and tame our always-bulging inboxes.
Enter the infographic — of course, pie charts and bar graphs are nothing new, but in a world where we’re trained to skim instead of read, a picture is worth its weight in gold.
A good infographic needs to cater to the modern web surfer’s abbreviated attention span. Your goal here is to create something that within ten seconds will have not only conveyed its message, but inspired the viewer to share the image on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
“In the first phase of a design project, I ask clients to define what their key message is,” says Randy Krum, the founder of InfoNewt.com, an infographics design firm. “If someone looks at this infographic for literally less than ten seconds, without reading into it, will they walk away with the key message the company wanted them to convey?”
Although this post won’t presume to teach you the years of training that talented graphic designers possess, it’s important for everyone involved in an infographic’s creation, from the boss to the writer, to understand what makes a good visual.
Keep It Simple
First, click here to look at this data set, collected by Hotels.com about what men and women want out of romance.
Second, check out this handy infographic created by InfoNewt to convey that information (click image for larger view).
Which one holds your attention longer? Most importantly, thanks to a clean three-color scheme and clear, uncluttered layering, we know exactly what we’re looking at.
Make it Timeless
The Hotels.com survey may have been conducted in 2012, but the information about what the other sex wants on Valentine’s Day is infinitely relevant. By turning percentage values into a visual, and offering us graphics to accompany other stats, we’re hooked in a matter of moments. Best of all, when we post to Facebook or ‘Pin it’ on Pinterest, it will spread and find new life next February.
Share It, with a Homing Device
An infographic’s best asset is its spread-ability. Don’t you think your friends would have appreciated this type of information as they planned their own Valentine’s dates last week? Of course, once the infographic leaves the Hotels.com site, it takes on a life of its own. Notice the link at the bottom of the graphic? Wherever it travels, it knows how to get its users back home.
Be Useful First, Sell Second
I’m a huge fan of this infographic by CertaPro Painters in Louisville, Kentucky. In a matter of seconds, I’m given ideas and justification for the colors I should paint each room in my house. It’s a detailed graphic, allowing me to dig in at my leisure, or I can just ‘Pin it,’ bookmark it, or drop it on my desktop and revisit it later when I’m ready to paint.
I don’t live in Louisville, but this graphic still has relevance to me. It’s something I would immediately think to send to a friend who just bought a house and is deciding on a color scheme. Of course, if that friend lives in Louisville, they’re now more likely to choose CertaPro Painters for their supplies and services.
Had the infographic bombarded me with CertaPro right at the top, I’d have likely disregarded it as useless marketing that was irrelevant to me.
Even if your company is a one-person show or doesn’t have a graphic designer, you can still use infographics to make your point. Sites like Many Eyes, Hohli and StatSilk offer simple tools to create charts and figures. Especially in the case of numbers, don’t just throw a bunch of statistics into an email and expect anyone to decipher it. Infographics make comprehension quick and easy, ensuring that you get your point across instead of being ignored. Use that to your advantage, and your company’s message will spread naturally.
~Christopher Wallace is vice president of sales and marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of personalized pens, promotional pens, and other personalized items such as imprinted apparel and mugs and customized calendars.