How to get your mind around infographic design and data visualisation

Infographics are the new trend in graphic design and content marketing. They add spice to the boring and sometimes hard to visualise statistics, converting them into more eye-catching visual resources. They also help to attract readers and consumers, directing them to a specific subject in an interesting way. Infographics are a piece of artwork as they showcase the talents of your graphic designers and the creativity of the agency.

It is a big online experiment

The evolution of devices and networks means that we always have to keep on top of our game, as it is hugely important to adapt. We’ve recently been very interested in the art of designing infographics, which we wanted to relate to our current project in HTML5.

According to Fernanda Viegas from IBM Research: “Half of our brain is hardwired for vision. Vision is the biggest bandwidth that we have in terms of sensory information to the outside world. Visualisation is taking advantage of the fact that we are so programmed to understand the world around us in terms of what we see.”

The Interaction Design Foundation describes the process of data visualisation for human perception:

“Data visualisation is effective because it shifts the balance between perception and cognition to take fuller advantage of the brain’s abilities. Seeing (i.e visual perception), which is handled by the visual cortex located in the rear of the brain, is extremely fast and efficient. We see immediately, with little effort. Thinking (i.e. cognition), which is handled primarily by the cerebral cortex in the front of the brain, is much slower and less efficient. Traditional data sensemaking and presentation methods require conscious thinking for almost all of the work. Data visualisation shifts the balance toward greater use of visual perception, taking advantage of our powerful eyes whenever possible.”

This film produced by Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University; shows how traditional narratives are being communicated with information displays.

The power of visually stimulating information

The success of a good infographic is hidden in two elements:

  1. Data
  2. Design

The first step is to gather data either from your own research, or discovering other reputable sources of information. From our research into infographic design we have noticed that many companies use the same data as many other infographic designers, resulting in a lack of ‘freshness’ and relevancy. Users can become dissatisfied with what they see as a lack of research in the process of creation. We have also noticed many complaints about putting too much emphasis on attractiveness over reliable and useful data.

  • Great infographics assemble data and information in a manner that makes it easy to digest
  • They also allow users to see patterns and relationships that could be lost in a paragraph or simple list

Think twice about how to use and organise data

An infographic has failed to do what it set out to do if the message the data conveys is lost in the way it is presented. Make sure that you do not ‘kill’ the data through bad design.

According to Francesco Franchi, a master of information design:

“We get a lot of infographic pitches. Almost all of them suck. Why? Because while they may well be ‘information plus graphics’, they often lack ‘infographic thinking’. If we don’t have content, we can’t have design. You have to be informative but also entertain the reader”

On the other hand Smashing Magazine highlights the best practises for ‘Do and Don’t of Infographic Design.’

Remember that:


  • Infographics are made to make life much easier for the readers
  • You need to know the purpose of the graphic you want to design
  • Consider your audience and the context of how the data will be viewed
  • Be selective and choose the best data
  • Spend more time on research to get the most relevant and accurate data
  • Remember to add call-to actions as it should force viewers to scroll down to see the whole design
  • Do not rush with publishing, allow yourself some extra time for tweaking
  • Remember to double-check your numbers and proofreading
  • Ask another person not involved in the project for an opinion

There is still a big area to be explored and more work needs to be done on data visualisation. Also remember that there are many other uses for infographics outside of what we have already covered, such as link-building for SEO.

For now, we should observe and learn the most out of these stunning designs which can turn a boring wall of text into an engaging experience capturing the attention of even the laziest reader.

By Kasia Piekut

About markmaking*

mark-making* is an award-winning creative agency specialising in branding, campaigns and communications