How to Make Your Infographics Useful
Asking the right questions
Asking the right questions
By Raquel Rubio
Organizations face challenges when they want to disseminate their evaluation findings. It is hard to capture someone's attention among the constant flow of information. We all have a limited capacity to process and retain information, so even if you manage to make people stop scrolling down the screen and choose to focus on your information, how do you know that they leave with the right message?
Many people turn to infographics for the answer. Infographics are visual representations of data that highlight your main findings, and they have some really cool superpowers:
They are visually appealing, so they will call the attention of your audience.
They are a great way to summarize your key insights, offering an easy-to-understand overview of a topic.
They improve retention of your information. An image stays in the brain more easily and for a longer period of time than words!
They are fact-focused, so they are a great way to initiate conversations.
They are social-media-friendly, so you can reach out to a bigger audience.
But it can be tricky to know where to start, especially when you are trying to distill a multipage report into a few sentences and drawings. Asking yourself the right questions will help. These are the steps that I follow, along with some extra tips!
Reflect on your main goal. Why do you want to share this information? Is it a way of informing the evaluation participant so that you can close the feedback loop? A call to action? Part of your fundraising strategy? Or a way to increase stakeholder engagement?
Reflect on your message. What do you want to share? What are your main insights? What is keeping your audience up at night (and what will help you finally solve their restlessness with an answer)?
Tip: Remember our limited capacity to process and retain data. Highlight just two or three key ideas or insights to ensure your audience understands the key points.
Reflect on your audience. Who is going to read this? This step is key to inform your design. For example, cartoons could be the perfect fit for young people but may not be the best option for a formal audience.
Tip: Ensure you use inclusive language and translate text if you have a multilingual audience.
Organize your information, and draft the language.
Tip: If you are struggling at this step because you feel you are losing the amazing nuances of your evaluation, link your infographic to other sources of data, such as the full report. You really can have it all. Just not all at once.
Design. Once you have a clear idea of the insights you want to share and how to frame them, you can start the design. If you have a visual brain like mine, you will enjoy this part!
Tip: The trickiest part for me during this step is finding the middle ground between creating something visually appealing that will grab people’s attention and framing it in a way that makes complex information and data easy to digest.
More quick tips
Organize your information in an easy-to-follow structure. You can structure it in the same way you read a document, starting on the top left side, or you can use columns or squares.
Create clear connections between elements to increase understanding and retention of your information.
Use appealing headers instead of just data descriptors.
Use colors and icons as guiding elements, and keep them simple! Remember, the most important part is that your message is clear, not how beautiful your design is!
Be equitable in your design. Try, for example, not to use characters that represent just part of the population.
Leave white space so as not to overcrowd your information.
Finally, you don’t need to be a graphic design expert to create beautiful and useful infographics. There are a lot of web-based programs that can get you started! I would recommend you to try Canva, Picktochart, and Venngage.
Remember, everyone can make infographics! Translating your evaluation findings to accommodate your audience's needs doesn't have to be a tedious process. Just remember to take a moment to digest all the information and clarify your goals, then take a deep breath and wake up your creative side!