HBR released an article “What Makes the Best Infographics so Convincing?” by Andrea Ovans. It makes a very good read and does identify some important points.
1. Have good background content
The article quotes Gareth Cook saying that the most compelling infographics mine relationships among overlooked variables to tell you something unexpected and get you thinking. In order words, you’ve got to have a good story before you can work out some good illustration of the story.
2. Cut away the clutter.
Learning from the negative, Cook comments that the least effect info graphics overwhelm us with data and confuse us. He lists the example of nutrition labels (well.. i don’t know whether you consider them as infographics). The much improved example comes from Better Food Label, which has redesigned nutrition labels and has cut the clutter into 3 main dimensions – nutrition, foodness and welfare, and then uses a colour scheme to give the consumer and instant visual grading. I particularly like the “foodness” dimension (how much of the food resembles its original form) consider how everyone is concerned about avoiding processed food and eating clean nowadays.
A redesigned and more relevant food label?
3. Don’t forget the whimsy.
Infographics are to communicate and to persuade – humor opens people up and makes them more willing to hear messages. It’s like trying to get a conversation up – stand up comedians are best at that. Have fun communicating!
4. Be honest.
Allow the viewers to have the sense that they’re free to move around and find their own relationships. The article mentions that when viewers are allowed that freedom, they’ll have the confidence that you really are giving them the whole story.