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Blogosphere Trends + Using Infographics

Information graphics, or infographics as they are more often called, are a great way to convey complex information clearly and concisely. Infographics can be anything from annotated maps, timelines, flowcharts, graphs, Venn diagrams, size comparisons, charts, or data presented with snazzy typography to a gorgeous amalgamation of several of these techniques. They add visual interest to your blog and are passed around more often than ordinary images or text.

If you have a design background or are fortunate enough to have some artistic skill, you can create your own infographics from scratch. If you’re like most of us, you’ll need a bit of assistance; fortunately, there are plenty of helpful resources online. Here are a few:

  • Visual.ly is like a search engine for infographics, so if you’re looking to use a graphic created by someone else (with permission or by Creative Commons and with attribution, of course), you may well find what you need here among the thousands of beautiful options that have already been created. They’re also working on a tool that will allow bloggers and others to create their own infographics using a plug-and-play system.
  • IBM’s Many Eyes gives you access to libraries of data and the ability to upload your own. It’s straightforward and yields professional looking results.
  • Google Public Data allows you to use publicly available data to create attractive infographics in a variety of forms.
  • Wordle makes it extremely easy to turn text into eye-catching word clouds with customizable fonts, colors, and designs.
  • Stat Planet lets you create interactive maps and data visualizations using simple browser-based tools and built-in data from sources such as the World Health Organization, CIA World Factbook, Wikipedia, and more.
  • If it’s simple, elegant, easy-to-customize charts you’re looking for, Hohli might be your answer.
  • Creately is a good option if you’re working with flow charts or diagrams but does cost $5 per month or $49 per year (USD).

Now let’s take a look at some striking examples of how infographics were used to illustrate and enhance posts about last month’s most-blogged-about stories (according to Regator.com, these were: Hurricane Irene, Steve Jobs, London Riots, Libya, Labor Day, the GOP candidates, earthquake, September 11, Federal Reserve, and Motorola Mobility) and get ten quick tips on choosing or creating infographics for your blog…

Do your research. If you’re creating your own infographic, start with a solid foundation of research. This infographic comparing Hurricane Irene with two other storms is visually simple but is based on solid research.

Cite your sources and be transparent. This infographic on Steve Jobs features an extensive list of sources in the footnotes and in doing so, allows viewers to fact-check and determine the reliability of the sources used.

Promote your blog. It takes a lot of effort to put together an attractive, well-researched infographic, which is why visualizations, like this one about the London Riots, often feature a prominent link or logo near the bottom indicating the creator. If you do make your own infographics, rather than keeping them solely for yourself, use them as an opportunity to spread your blog’s brand by tagging them with your logo and allowing them to be embedded around the web, preferably with an embed code that leads back to your site.

Get interactive. If you have the resources, interactive graphics such as this timeline of Middle East protests is just about the most engaging content you can provide. These, obviously, require a great deal of expertise and skill, but when done right, are a stunning way to provide a large amount of information.

Choose a color scheme. Choose a color palette that is complementary, striking, and able to tie elements together to create a cohesive look. This Labor Day infographic is a great example of color done right.

Give credit where credit is due. Before hosting an infographic on your blog, be sure you have the rights to do so. Check for Creative Commons License information (see the CC logo at the bottom of this infographic on the 2012 GOP candidates) or other licensing information and if an embed code featuring a link back to the source is provided, as it is here, be sure to use it.

Do one thing and do it well. Define your focus and make sure that the information you’re presenting is relevant to your point and not simply pretty to look at. This map of Twitter activity during a recent U.S. earthquake presents only one kind of information but, in doing so, paints a clear picture that can be understood in an instant.

Lead the viewer’s eye. This infographic on travel ten years after September 11, 2001 makes effective use of lines and graphics to pull the viewer’s eye down the page and onto the next piece of information. Pay attention to where you want viewers to look, especially in flow charts, and use design principles to get them there.

Use minimal text. Some text is necessary to convey your point, but the beauty of infographics is that they allow you to minimize text while still conveying extensive information or complex concepts. You want your infographic to look more like the top half of this Federal Reserve visualization than the bottom half, which is attractive but text-heavy.

Keep it short and simple. This comparison chart of Google and Motorola is short and sweet but tells the story. Use only as much data and information as you need to make your point and no more.

Do you know of other ways to find or create infographics? Please share them in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com, Regator for iPhone and the brand-new Regator Breaking News service for journalists and bloggers. She is also an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

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Comments

  1. Wasim Ismail says:

    Don’t you just love looking at info graphs, posting an post on your blog with info graphs, does excite your readers, and its quick, easy, and doesn’t take much time to go though as a user.

  2. fongios says:

    Another good question u didnt cover: How to monetize those infographics. As it is not text things like google adwords make not a lot of sense. Moreover google search engine will not index very well our blog if its consisting of infographics right?

    • You’re right that text as text is more valuable from an SEO perspective than text as an image, but the advantages of using infographics on your blog occasionally (I’m certainly not suggesting they be used in every post) is that they help you convey a lot of information to your readers in a easy-to-digest format and are, for that reason, good to mix in with other types of posts.

      Plus, if you create them yourself, brand them at the bottom, and allow them to be shared, they can be a great promotional tool for your blog and send you a lot of traffic that way.

      Providing content your readers love and getting more traffic may not DIRECTLY monetize your blog, but they’re steps along the way.

  3. I always wondered how to go about making a quality InfoGraphic — I’ve outsourced it before with Elance and gotten poor results.

    Thanks for the detailed information Kim.
    It’s appreciated
    Dilanka

  4. Witty Prmt says:

    Hello Kimberly

    Yes, I agree with you. Because I write about health topics and fitness, I find that using pictures, graphs and Venn charts very useful in keeping the readers’ attention on the central issue.

    The more complicated topics require a delicate approach that does not shatter the readers’ attention. Infographics and pictures increase the appeal and promotes a reader’s interest as well.

    It was a nice post. I found it very interesting.

    Best regards
    Witty Prmt

  5. Ann says:

    Yes they are great a few newspaper online sites are using them.

  6. Stacey says:

    Good info! I’ve seen infographics around… but hadn’t put a name to them. Now I’m inspired to come up with one for my own blog- thanks :)

  7. Harrison Li says:

    Wow Kimberly thanks for this extremely valuable post, I mean literally, haven’t seen a good post in a long time on ProBlogger!

  8. Himanshu says:

    I like infographics a lot and always wanted to create one. This post is really a cake to me. Thanks a lot.

  9. Atul Malla says:

    I am was quite familiar with infographics at all but after reading this post, I think I totally know it all about it. But one thing is still roaming in my mind. What are the benefits of using it on my blog? Won’t it slow down my blog?

    • Hi Atul. See my reply to fongios above for some benefits of using them. As for speed, infographics are simply images and won’t slow your blog down more than any other image. A plain text page may load faster than a blog with images and ads, but strike a balance between usability and speed by not overloading your blog with large images and slow plug-ins.

  10. When I first came across infographics and how to use it to convey message, I wasn’t really interested to focus on it. But today, I’ve gotten a clear description of how it works and how to utilize the immense features of it. I believe the investment is worth the rewards.

  11. Steve Scott says:

    Kimberly,

    Lots of good information here. I ahve been playing around a lot this week trying to get better at making infographics. Thanks for the ideas/resources.

    -Steve

  12. Tal Siach says:

    Hey Kimberly, great post! Thanks for the visual.ly mention. We encourage all Problogger readers to come browse and create amazing infographics at visual.ly.

  13. This is a wonderful post. I love having this information all in one place. Thanks!

  14. Tiago Veloso says:

    Hi, Kimberly, thanks for sharing this post, lots of useful information.

    I would like to invite you all also to visit Visual Loop, we have today over 14.600 infographics collected from all over the world, and we publish at least 20 new ones everyday.

    Also, the AllTop for Infographics gathers some of the most important sources on this subject, you might wanna explore it.

    Keep up the great work!

    @TSSVeloso / @visualoop