Infographics have become widely used by marketers and learning and development (L&D) practitioners alike, due to consumers’ and learners’ need to consume information as swiftly. Infographics’ use of engaging visuals with as little text as possible provides a concise and easy-to-follow overview on a topic.
Marketers have a myriad of uses for infographics, including brand awareness; process breakdowns; listing items and resources; setting and communicating company goals; mapping out the customer journey; comparing products, plans and services; and encouraging link-sharing (via “guestographics”).
Seeing how marketers use infographics should give an insight into how much use L&D can garner from them. For one, it’s an excellent microlearning tool, due to its ability to provide bite-sized, easily digestible information using more visuals and less text.
Types of Infographics
Training materials come with a lot of text that instructional designers can repurpose into engaging visuals. Luckily, there are enough types of infographics to satisfy a variety of learning needs. There’s an infographic for everything:
When you have a chronological story to tell or want to show how an event evolved over time, you can use timeline infographics to help learners understand how events connect to and influence each other a specific period.
For simplifying and mapping out the steps involved in working on a task or achieving an outcome (e.g., how to operate assembly line machinery, how to create a how-to infographic, etc.), process infographics are a good fit.
Comparison infographics are used to compare common points and contrast between similar data and concepts. Marketers use them to highlight similarities and differences among their products or services or to compare them to their competitors’.
4. “Did You Know?”/Informational
Informational infographics are used to break down new concepts or give an overview on certain topics, helping to increase learners’ awareness. They might rely more on text than other infographics, but attractive color schemes, icons and descriptive headers can enhance the overall experience.
These infographics represent demographic data and usually consist of maps as the main graphic. They visually depict trends across different locations and can help learners relate facts and events to specific places.
Statistical infographics are primarily used for data visualization. They employ graphs, charts, icons, text and sometimes maps to break down statistical figures and present them in an a condensed, easier-to-digest form. For example, you can use a statistical infographic to convey data from a research program.
If you have key points of which you believe your learners will greatly benefit from a summary, put them into a list infographic. They are more compelling and engaging than a text list because of their color schemes, graphics and icons.
Interactive infographics have “moving parts” that learners can interact with and edit. For example, learners can drag items around the infographic, type in text and make other illustrations like checkmarks. Apart from the visual aspect, they have the added benefit of encouraging learners to take time to interact with and consume the content. Q&A infographics and flow charts are great uses for interactive infographics.
Tips for Creating Engaging Infographics
The first step in creating an infographic is knowing whether or not you actually need one for the information you are presenting. Use an infographic if you believe the text can be replaced seamlessly by a graphic, not just for the sake of using an infographic. In addition, don’t use an infographic when a simpler graphic will suffice. The marketing concept of “less is more” is applicable to using an infographic as a learning solution.
For your infographic to achieve its purpose, it must be designed correctly. Be creative with colors that go together. Use simple graphics, and only include valuable information. You don’t want to be stuck with an infographic that is haphazard and too complicated to serve its training purpose. Do not get too carried away with decorating when the goal is to visualize and simplify information.
With that goal in mind, here are six tips to help you create an engaging and effective infographic.
1. Choose the Type That Suits the Content
Use how-to infographics to break down processes, comparison infographics to compare similar topics and interactive infographics for Q&As. Design your infographic in such a way that your learners will know what to expect at first glance. Choose the infographic style that will convey your message, achieve your learning outcome and suit your target audience.
2. Use More Visuals and Less Text
Don’t defeat the purpose of the infographic by flooding it with text. Cut down on text; be concise; and replace it with visuals, such as charts, icons, graphs and animations, as much as possible.
3. Be Innovative and Original With Your Design
A unique and eye-catching graphic is just what you need to pique the curiosity of your learners. Create something that stands out to them by thinking outside the box. Make the flow of the content different than the content you normally create. Be creative with the colors and graphics in the headers, sections and backgrounds to come up with something truly attention-grabbing.
4. Let Your Key Message Stand out
In the bid to make an attractive and shareable infographic, do not drown out your key message by letting it become lost in a sea of graphics and design. Be intentional in using visuals, and be careful not to focus too heavily on decorating. The goal is to simplify text, not complicate it with graphics. Also, make sure to add a lot of white space to prevent a cluttered look.
5. Create a Framework of Your Ideas First
Before bringing other designers on board, it’s important to create a rough draft to organize your ideas and the data. This draft will give them a general idea of what you want and help them focus their efforts without losing the flow or the message.
If you are compelled to take things into your own hands, you don’t need any formal design training or expensive design tools. There are many free or nearly free tools that come stocked with templates for easy infographic designs.
6. Communicate Effectively
As important as the design is, communicating with your learners is even more important. Ensure that your message is conveyed in text that is easy to understand and assimilate. In a bid to cut down on text content, take care not to fall into the trap of using technical jargon and unexplained abbreviations excessively. Your learners don’t need to be stuck with the job of doing internet searches to understand what you are trying to say. Convey your points in familiar and concise language.
Marketers have long used infographics as a visual content marketing tool to connect with their consumers and increase their reach. Infographics have gained traction online because of how easily digestible and shareable they are. Translating this tool, which taps into the cognitive preference for visualization and bite-sized information, to learning is the right move.
As long as your key messages are concise and your designs are eye-catching, you should see a lot of success in learner engagement by including infographics in your training program.