How to Make a Beautiful Infographic

Recently, I gave a webinar on Telling Your Impact Story (check it out).  I love a good (organizational) story, especially one with juicy data and pictures.  @@Stories get more interesting when we add pictures, and infographics are a great way to turn your data into a beautiful picture.@@  In the last few years infographics have become game changers in the way that complex information is shared.  And sharing is key.  Infographic blog posts attract 448% more sharing actions than traditional posts. (Read more about that from BitRebels.) It's because we are hardwired to remember visual content.  Extensive research demonstrates that after 3 days, only about 10% information presented by text is remembered, compared to 65% of information presented with a visual + text. (It's called the Picture Superiority Effect.) You are savvy and probably know infographics are hot, but if you aren’t a designer, creating a beautiful visual may seem out of reach.  I’m here to tell you (and show you), how to make a beautiful infographic in 20 minutes—with a simple (read: no design experience required), FREE, tool called Canva.  The free version is fantastic, and will work for anyone.  But hey, if you are a non-profit, you can get an even better FREE version, Canva for Work.  (The rest of us can get this version, we just have to pay a bit.) Use this link for details.

Even though you can’t wait to get busy making your own infographic, pause for just a moment to get clear about what you want to get out of it.  In my case, I had some data from my webinar that I want to make a little more sexy.  @@That's right, graphic data = sexy data.@@  For my infographic, I wanted to make the case that personal stories aren’t helping organizations explain their impact.   You might want to make a controversial point too, or highlight a section from a recent report, or something else.  The point is, for your first infographic, pick a simple goal with basic data.  Let's dive in.

1. Ask a question.

Once I had a goal in mind, I needed to pick a basic structure to keep my text and data focused.  Since the goal here is to make a quick infographic, let's stick to a classic set up--The Question: Asked and Answered.  So simple.  Ask a question.  Give an answer, and use some data to prove it.  My question is--

What type of story makes an impact?

Your question could be:

What do X and Y have in common?

What happens when you buy our product?

Why does X matter?

Now, with a purpose and a question, head over to Canva. (Quick tip: Canva will work in most browsers, but it is fastest in Chrome.)

2. Use a template.

Canva is fantastic because their awesome designers put together a collection of free infographic templates.  That's right, the non-designer's secret to beautiful infographics--templates!  You can find Infographic Templates under the Blogging and Ebooks section.  You'll probably even find the template that I used, and that's cool.  No one is handing out bonus points for originality. (But if you have more than 20 minutes and want get creative, Canva has endless options for you too.)  Templates are great for the beginner because they already incorporate essential design elements like contrast and hierarchy.  Pick a template that is appealing, and if you want to finish in less than 20 minutes, pick one with colors and fonts that you already like.

3. Start with stock images for icons and charts (and then customize).

Browse Canva’s extensive library of free icons, images, and graphs to pair with your text.  (One big caveat here—you won't be able to deal with complex data.  If you have complex data to work with check out Piktochart.)  The colors and text in most of Canva's stock images can be changed.  So even though there are limited options, if you are working with basic data, you'll be able to find images and graphs that fit.

Once you’ve got your infographic blocked out with text and graphics, you can customize the colors and fonts to fit your style, or don’t.  Remember, there is no extra credit right now.  If the stock design works, just use it.

4. End your infographic with a call to action.

Your infographic is a story, so be sure to give it a solid ending—make your call to action clear.  If you secretly hope that people will do something after viewing your amazing and beautiful infographic, tell them about it.  And always include your website as the final note on your infographic.  For my infographic, I not-so-secretly want people to come check out my website when they are done viewing my infographic, so I tell them exactly that.

That’s it.  Your infographic is ready to share with the world.  And so is mine.

Make your next infographic ready for the world.  Grab the Flawless Infographics Checklist.

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