As marketers and writers, we’re always looking for better ways to engage and interact with our target audiences. We want to show people we’re the best at what we do, convert them into customers or subscribers, help drive a change in the industry and so much more.
But in today’s fast-paced world, if your content doesn’t intrigue your audience in seconds or keep their attention for more than a few minutes, you’ve lost them. And not only will that have an impact on how they view your product and your brand, but if people aren’t spending enough time on your site, that can signal the wrong message to Google as well resulting in a poor impact on your SEO and rankings.
That means to create useful content, you have to understand what attracts people, how they consume content and how they retain information.
Over the years, it has become clear that infographics are one of the best forms of content for engaging audiences online. It’s no secret, which is why we see infographics on almost any and every topic imaginable.
But not all infographics are created equal. A poor quality infographic will get treated like background noise compared to a well-crafted infographic.
So how can I design the best infographics?…
You may wonder.
As a copywriter, I’ve worked with writers and designers to design numerous infographics. Eventually, we developed an approach that helped us design awesome infographics like this one:
What’s the secret?
Our infographic outlines focus on content, emphasizing quality research, tight content and clear design guides. These are the ingredients to an engaging infographic.
Now, when you approach your own infographic, you’ll either come up with something brand new or use existing content. I’ll show you how to create a clear infographic outline in both instances.
Brand new content
To create a captivating infographic, you have to start with a great idea, do some research and point out valuable insights. You can do all of that in 4 steps.
The infographic outline in 4 steps:
- Choose a relevant topic
- Collect your data
- Provide context
- Include design notes
1. Choose a relevant topic
If you want people to care about your infographic, you’ll need to think of something special. When deciding on a topic, consider your audience and come up with an insight, a solution or an answer to a question for them.
Recently, I came across an infographic on typography by the Visual Communication Guy (VCG). The infographic lists 18 rules to follow when using text in your designs. The infographic shares insights that are highly relevant to VCG’s audience visiting the page for design inspiration and insights.
Working on this post, I decided to answer a question of my own.
What do my colleagues watch on Netflix?
It might not be the most riveting topic, but it does make demonstrating the process easier. Then, with a topic in mind, I have to gather data.
2. Collect your data
Once you’ve settled on a topic or question, decide on a way to collect data. There are plenty of approaches you could take, including:
- Google search hacks
- Surveys or polls
- Your own research
- Academic resources
I decided to send out a survey to everyone at my office. After a few days, I got my survey results back. I exported my data into a spreadsheet and got this:
I wasn’t interested in other data points, so I listed my questions and sorted my answers. For the qualitative questions I had asked, I listed the responses from most to least common. Once I was done, I had organized each question like this:
These data points make up the body of your outline. But on their own, it won’t be enough to engage your readers. You need to explain to your readers what you’re presenting to them.
3. Provide context
Most people would stop to view a cool-looking infographic. But if they can’t grasp what’s happening within the first few seconds, they’ll move right on to your competitors.
For example, I came across this infographic on Gizmodo. At first, it looked cool but I soon realized I couldn’t understand what the size of each circle signified or what the values actually represented. Take a look:
For my own infographic outline, I still had to explain what my readers were seeing. I needed clear titles, headers, subheaders and key takeaways to each of my data points. Once I added all that, I was left with this:
This is all the content my infographic requires. My key takeaways are concise to keep them infographic-friendly. If I incorporated large, in-depth paragraphs into my outline, I would have ended up with a cluttered and disorganized infographic.
So as you add content and expand on important points in your outline, remember to be concise.
Once all your content ideas are organized, your last step is adding design notes.
4. Include design notes
Design notes are the best way to guide a designer’s approach and provide links to all the required materials for the infographic. For example, my typical design notes often look like this:
- Design reference: [example infographic link 1 & example infographic link 2]
- Include corporate logo: [link]
- Formatting: long, single-pager with portrait orientation. Optimize for mobile viewing.
I use notes to inform the designer of what I need in terms of formatting or branding. I like to insert my notes into the header or footer of documents so that they never get confused when looking at the infographic content.
For my infographic outline, I made a few specific notes. I linked to an infographic that I liked in order to provide a bit of inspiration. I indicated my desired page layout and the fact that a logo needs to be included. With these notes any designer can look at them and understand what’s expected:
Even if I’m the designer, leaving myself these notes in the outline is important. For the days when I’m working on a dozen different things at once, I can refer to this outline and make sure I’m not forgetting anything crucial.
If you’re repurposing existing content to create a unique infographic, you’ll follow a slightly different process.
Repurposing existing content
When you have great content, repurposing it to drive engagement makes sense. After all, you’ve done the research and the content has performed well in the past. Repackaging your content as an infographic is an easy and straightforward process.
The infographic outline in 3 steps:
- Determine topic and key takeaways
- Determine title, headers, subheaders, and facts
- Include design notes
1. Determine topic and key takeaways
When you repurpose existing content, you can decide to use the entire piece of content or a section. For example, if you have an existing article about design tips, you might just focus on one particular tip in your infographic, the three most important tips, or some other combination of content.
Let’s pretend to repurpose this particular blog post. Here’s how it looks at the moment:
As it is, I have too much content for an infographic. First I’ll need to decide how I want to frame my infographic. To keep things simple, I’ll focus on how to create an infographic outline with existing content. That means I’ll only focus on the entire second half of this post.
My key takeaways are the individual steps to writing an infographic outline using existing content. My supporting points for each key takeaway should be one or two sentences explaining each step. That information will make up the bulk of my outline. Then I’ll need to clarify what my outline is about.
2. Determine title, header, subheaders, and facts
Currently, I have all my content but haven’t provided context. I’ll need a very direct title, a short introduction, informative headers and subheaders that tell my reader what I’m exploring in my infographic and why.
With all these details in place, I have an outline that looks like this:
The headers inform the readers what the infographic is about and help them grasp it quickly. The brief introduction explains the purpose behind the infographic. Each key takeaway is straight to the point.
3. Include design notes
Whether you’re creating an outline for brand new content or existing content, the role of notes in your outline stays the same.
As I mentioned before, if you’re the designer then the notes keep you organized. For another designer, the notes are clear instructions. Here’s another snapshot for your reference:
As infographics continue to get more popular and creative (like animated infographics!), they’ll play a larger part in our content marketing strategies. Having a reliable approach to designing original and informative infographics can be invaluable.
When it comes to designing engaging infographics that transmits complex knowledge to your audience in a clear and concise way, infographic outlines have, and continue to be a solid approach for me. As you start using infographic outlines as a process of creating your own visuals, you’ll, in turn, see what makes them so helpful!
Do you have a unique approach to designing infographics? Please share with us in the comments!