For the past few years, creating infographics has been all the rage. Launching a new product? Create an infographic about it. Want to get press coverage? Create an infographic. Trying to get inbound links? Create an infographic. It's like that analogy: When all you've got is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.
Marketers are churning out infographics left and right to capture people's attention in our increasingly visual and busy world. And there are lots of free resources out there to help you create infographics -- all you need to do is plug in some data and voila, an infographic ... right?
Not quite. With this hammer/nail mentality, it's easy to spend time creating something that's not quite up to snuff. If you're mainly concerned with just having an infographic, you could end up with something that gets lost in the sauce -- not something people will be excited to read and share.
To make sure you're putting your best infographic foot forward, read on. We'll highlight the top mistakes people tend to make with their infographics, and give you tips for steering clear of them yourself -- because if you're going to go for the nail, you might as well know how to use the hammer properly.
So without further ado, let's take a look at the worst types of mistakes we've seen (and even committed ourselves) in infographics.
1) The Title's Wordy
This is probably my biggest pet peeve of them all (which is why it's first on the list). Unlike design, crafting great titles should be in any content creator's wheelhouse. It's something all content creators do, whether they create infographics or not. In a world where everyone has very limited attention for content, a great title could be the difference between your infographic being successful ... or not.
So if your title is wordy or unappealing, spruce it up. Keep it short, punchy, and compelling, yet descriptive of what's inside. Need help? Check out this blog post for tips on writing great titles.
2) There's No Compelling Narrative
Infographics shouldn't just be a jumble of stats and facts with icons and graphs next to them. Like any other piece of content you create, it should tell some sort of story. Even if all you have are 10 stats for your infographic meat, there should be some flow between them that speaks to a larger trend.
Having a compelling narrative means that your infographic should have a beginning, middle, and end -- just like a blog post. The beginning is usually a sentence or two of introduction. The middle is the meat of the story -- it has a few themes with supporting details for each. The end wraps it all up for the reader and usually includes the sources for the infographic. People should be able to skim the infographic and walk away with a clear message.
Want an example of a great infographic with a narrative? Check this one out.
If you're struggling to develop a narrative in your infographic, put together an outline first. Remove and reorganize the bullet points until it makes sense, then translate your outline to the infographic format. If you're using an infographic template, the translation should be fairly easy -- you can just plug the bullet points for each section into the template and then customize the graphics to support the bullet points.
3) The Data's Outdated
Each industry is different -- some move much faster than others. So if you're building an infographic with data from several years ago, chances are it's outdated or maybe even wrong. If you want your infographic to get shared and bring long-term, evergreen traffic to your website, you want to keep the data as current as possible.
Each industry moves at its own pace, so what "dated" means changes depending on the industry you're in. That being said, if you're creating content for that industry, you should have an idea of what's in vogue now and what isn't. If you're unsure, do some Googling to see if there's more current data on it.
4) The Text Is Tiny
One of the hardest things about designing infographics is you have to make them easy-to-read at any size. Even if they're only a few hundred pixels wide, people should be able to read and scan the infographic without enlarging it.
So treat your infographic like you would a PowerPoint presentation -- keep your font sizes large enough that anyone can read the text on your infographic on any device they choose. People will be accessing your infographic on many different screen sizes, and your infographic should be readable on all of them.
5) No One Knows It's Yours
After you spend all that time outlining, writing, editing, designing, and optimizing your infographic, you want to get the credit your company deserves. When people share your infographic on their blog or social network of choice, you want people to know your company created it, even if the sharer didn't mention you.
The easiest way to prevent that is to include your company logo or URL in the infographic. It doesn't prevent people from incorrectly sharing/attributing the infographic, but it will help ensure people know your company created it -- which could bring them one tiny bit closer to visiting your website, converting on a form, and becoming a customer. (Every little bit counts!)
6) It Only Lives on Your Website
Though you want people to recognize you created the infographic, you don't want to discourage people from sharing it with their network. Chances are, your infographic is meant to get you exposure ... so you've got to get people to share your content if you want to accomplish that goal.
So make sure you have the infographic primed to be shared. Add an easy embed code and add tweet/pin buttons next to the infographic. If you're promoting the infographic in a blog post, add some "tweetable takeaways" in the comments, complete with "Click to Tweet" links. Basically, any way you can remind people in a non-spammy way to share the infographic -- do it.
Also, make sure you're distributing the infographic to the right networks. If you have a SlideShare account, for example, upload your infographic there. Since not a lot of people use SlideShare for infographics, you'll have a better chance of getting noticed -- and you'll improve your chances even more if you avoid the rest of these mistakes, too.
Want to make a kick-ass infographic? Make sure you're starting off on the right foot by downloading these five PowerPoint infographic templates.