How to make sure your education infographics accomplish their purpose.
Infographics are a popular and effective way to convey information to learners in an engaging and memorable way. However, while the most powerful infographics seem simple, designing them in a clear and informative way can be anything but.
Many educators work with graphic designers who are able to draw on their experience to make beautiful infographics. And, if you don’t work with a graphic designer, you can use an infographic maker to help you out. But with the tool in your hands, it’s all too easy to stray into dangerous design territory. So, if you’re not confident in your design skills, follow these tips to keep your infographics clear and effective.
1. Define the objective of your infographic.
What is your infographic about? If you can’t describe it in six words or less, you probably don’t have a clear enough focus for your graphic. A good infographic is designed to represent one thing. That thing might be complex, but it should be easy to describe in a short sentence. If you find yourself trying to illustrate too many concepts in one infographic, split them up.
2. Group related concepts in a logical order.
Plan an outline for your infographic as though you were writing an essay. Writing an outline will help you balance concepts in your graphic so that your ideas flow from one point to the next. Furthermore, you will want to design the layout of your story so that ideas that relate to each other appear together.
3. Cut down on your copy.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so a copy-heavy infographic somewhat defeats its purpose. The whole point of creating one is to visually represent concepts that might otherwise take a lot of words to express. This doesn’t mean your words don’t have value—they do!—but your infographic isn’t the right place. Instead, use that copy in your lesson, and let the visuals do the talking.
4. Make effective use of whitespace.
Don’t crowd elements in your infographic. The closer you place images and text, the more likely these elements are to blur together and make it difficult for learners to easily understand the elements in the infographic. Remember that infographics aren’t a print medium, so you have plenty of space to get your point across. Use it wisely.
5. Create contrast through color, light vs. dark, and texture.
In order for elements in your infographic to be readable, they need to contrast against each other fairly well. You should use color to help differentiate elements, but you also can’t rely on color alone. After all, approximately one in twelve men are colorblind (and one in two hundred women), which means they won’t be able to read your infographic well if you depend on color.
Instead, while you should use color for contrast, also use light and dark, as well as patterns and texture, so that everyone can read your infographic equally well.
6. Use descriptive labels.
Another way to ensure your infographic isn’t completely useless to colorblind learners is to properly label all your elements. It should be easy for learners to quickly scan your infographic to see what images and graphs represent what information. If you have a situation where it’s hard for learners to understand what each graphic represents, then you need to use better labels.
7. Allow for easy comparisons.
Visualizations are the perfect context for many learners to quickly compare and contrast similar information. If you’re using your infographic to illustrate this kind of information, arrange items in a way that makes it easy for learners to quickly compare to items.
8. Consider the size and the context.
Where do your infographics appear? On a web page? In a slide? On a mobile site? Context is important. If your infographic might appear on a mobile website, it’s important that the information be readable at that size. Mobile users can’t easily zoom in on more complex areas, so if your text is too small, it may be difficult for them to read it. And if a file is larger than 1MB, it may be difficult to access for those on a slower Internet connection.
9. Check your facts and cite your sources.
We’d hope that all infographics are fair and accurate in how they present information, but when it comes to education infographics, it’s even more important to be conscientious in how you present facts. Your learners will use these as resources, and as such, they should be able to know where your information comes from. So, be sure to cite where your information comes from, and be extra careful proofreading your graphics to be sure they’re correct.
Effective visualization helps learners retain information.
Infographics are essential for elearning. Without them, courses are simply more… boring. More importantly, infographics fill a need that words cannot. Complex information relies on graphs and charts for a more complete representation. In the absence of a good infographic, many educators would be hard-pressed to convey the same information using only words. And it would be even harder for many learners to make sense of this information without visualization.
While it may take extra time to design a good education infographic, the time is well worth the investment. You can also use infographics outside your course to attract interest and inspire social sharing. Given their versatility, it’s likely the time you invest in creating a good infographic will pay off many times.