Make your infographic something to explore. This guidance stands in stark contrast to our advice for research reports, which is to make them completely and utterly transparent. But we have our reasons for this apparent dichotomy, as you will soon see.
We want to design infographics that grab the attention of readers who are not otherwise paying close attention to a report. We want to engage them in a different way and then push them to the full report if we can. A typical research report is (or should be) transparent and crystal clear. It should involve the left-brain, critical thinking side of the reader. We want the reader immediately seeing what the sample size is, what questions were asked, how every respondent answered, and the implications of the data.
With an infographic, however, we want to engage the right-brain, inquisitive side of the reader. Instead of critically assessing the material, we want her engaging with it creatively—exploring, wondering, starting to spin out how the data might apply. Forget about the details (they can be found elsewhere). Tell and show the reader why your material is interesting.
How do you accomplish that? Here are three simple techniques to engage readers in a “right-brain” way that will make your infographic something to explore:
- Follow a path. Think of the clichéd image of a car driving along a winding road. Along the way are billboards with information or data points. The progression to follow is clear. But following a winding path instead of moving directly from top to bottom has more feeling of mystery, discovery, and exploration.
- Assemble a puzzle. Lay out data points or blocks of information that require some assembly from the reader’s brain. We never want to confuse the reader, but there are things you can do that will require a half second of mental problem-solving effort. Clever use of maps instead of charts is one great way to do this.
- Apply the data. Ask the reader directly, “Where do you fit?” Segmentation studies are ideal for this because people like to “type” themselves and compare themselves to others. So, offer some decision rules or flow charts to help the reader see how people slot into interesting personas. This will get them engaging with your research in new and creative ways.
This is one of eight tips we will share during our presentation at CRC 2017, October 16-18 in Chicago. In the session we will share our extensive research into infographic techniques and DIY solutions. We’ll also talk about how Fidelity Investments has used infographics as a communication tool for media and for customers in both B2C and B2B markets. It will be highly visual with lots of examples of good infographics and bad (really bad) ones. We hope to see you there!