Infographics: 5 Tips for Product Marketers

06/10/2010

An Infographic or Information Graphic is a visual representation of complex data or knowledge.  Infographics have been popular with journalists for years but increasingly product marketers are using them to communicate complex ideas or data in an engaging manner that also doesn’t take up a lot of space.  Infographics are extremely popular online and great ones are often shared, even between people who don’t necessarily have an interest in the topic.  Here are 5 things marketers and product marketers should think about when creating Infographics:

1/  Clearly define what you want to communicate – The goal of any great infographic is to tell a story.  Numbers are just numbers, a great infographic can tell a story with the numbers in a way a simple graph can’t.  Make sure you start with that goal in mind.

2/  Pick a type that matches your topic/data – There are a lot of different types of Infographics out there including timelines, maps, process diagrams, statistical, and more (the oldie but a goodie Periodic Table of Visualization Methods will give you an idea of just how many options you have).  Here’s an example that blends a timeline with data and (cheeky) graphics:

bankruptcy infographic Infographics: 5 Tips for Product Marketers

3/  Keep it simple (and reasonably small) – By definition you are trying to make the complex simple through the use of a graphic.  Beware of trying to do too much with a single picture.  For example, Lokesh Dhakar developed this infographic to help people understand what the differences were between espresso coffee drinks:

espresso drinks Infographics: 5 Tips for Product Marketers

Espresso Infographic

The result is clean and easy to understand.  Contrast that with the often cited Web Trend Map, which although interesting to look at, in my opinion is way too complex to really be useful:

web trend map Infographics: 5 Tips for Product Marketers

4/  Color and Typography matter a lot – Make sure that the colors and the typeface are appropriate for what you are trying to say and work with your branding.  Here’s an example of an infographic with Starbucks and McDonald’s that makes use of their respective corporate colors:

Starbucks McDonalds Infographics: 5 Tips for Product Marketers

Infographics Marketing Starbucks McDonalds

5/  Have a call to action -  If you’ve done your job right you’ve educated folks and gotten them engaged, now what?  Make sure you include links to where they can learn more or if they are ready to take action, tell them how they can do so.

Further Reading:

There are a crop of blogs focused on the Infographic in all its forms including:

Also Edward Tufte has written the book on this stuff (several in fact).

The Infographics flickr pool is also full of inspiration.

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