It is our job as digital communicators to present information to our audiences in ways that engage, inform, and—most importantly—make sense. But that’s not always easy. We can ensure we communicate clearly by writing in plain language and using usability best practices. Sometimes we need more than that, however. One powerful approach is infographics.
You’ve probably seen many infographics and never knew they had a name. For us, infographics are a way to promote the idea of sharing information, a tenet of the Digital Government Strategy. For example, we developed an infographic for BeTobaccoFree.gov last fall to explain what happens to your body when you quit smoking. Since it was posted, it has been liked, shared, pinned, and tagged on social media sites more than 100 times—a good number for HHS.
How Do You Make an Infographic?
First, you begin with an idea. Think about what you want to communicate. Add some factual data to back up your message. Then incorporate design, working with a designer will help you brainstorm ways to communicate your content visually. Mash it all together, and you get an infographic. Sometimes they tell a story. Sometimes they are charts and diagrams that illustrate a point. Sometimes they encourage someone to take an action.
Key points for making infographics:
- Tell a Story: The best infographics communicate a clear story by pairing creativity with insightful images. With a marriage of data and graphics, everyone lives happily ever after. Take the version here for example, when considering one’s life after quitting smoking. It offers very clear benefits throughout the path of quiting, from the first few minutes to decades later.
- Keep it Clear: You want to create an infographic so you can quickly explain complex data or share your message. Don’t get it twisted. Focus on your story, and keep to the main points. Don’t add anything extra that doesn’t support your story—clutter only weakens your overall message.
- Be Unique: Search for the phrase “infographic” in Google Images. You’ll see how many infographics are out there and how easy it is to get lost in the mix. Make sure that your final infographic is a unique representation of the data you want to share. If your final product is just like everyone else’s, why would they share yours?
HHS recently created an HHS Infographics Group/Pool on Flickr that brings together all the infographics from across the Department. Take a look. There’s more than you might think.