Sometimes I miss “green screens” from the good old days when computer commands were written in words and numbers. You see, I am icon impaired. Every time Google “simplifies” one of its products, it takes me weeks to re-figure out how to file an email in my gmail account. I struggle with discerning the hidden meaning of emojis more complex than a simple happy or sad face. And I break out in a cold sweat when my husband hands me his iPhone and asks me to GPS directions for him while he is driving.

PBS Benchmark Infographic

Yes, I love words. That said, I recognize that stories are sometimes best told not just with words, but through skillful and creative combinations of words and images. In those cases, an infographic can be the best way to bring clarity to complex data sets that are so much a part of our lives as marketers and fundraisers.

But just like all short stories, not all infographics are created equal. We’ve ALL seen the bad ones – the mind-numbing numbers and rows of faceless stick figures designed to convey growth in audience size. The oversized Pie Chart (or if you’re really cutting edge, the “Donut”) to show breakdown of mobile versus desktop users. And my favorite – the 3-foot long infographic that tries to do too much and in the process has me clicking out after the 5th image.

What makes a really GREAT infographic– one that engages and entertains the reader while delivering your message in an instant! Here are a few basic tenets that we employ when creating infographics for clients:

  • Know your audience. Who will see your infographic?  Make use of images and context that will be most relevant for that audience. Unless you are talking to an association of Paper Doll lovers, avoid the aforementioned stick figures and other iconography that has become so overused. It takes a little more thought and creativity – but that’s what will make your infographic stand out from the growing stream of images in your target reader’s inbox.
  • Know your story (and summarize it). While you may need to understand your data in all their glory and complexity, your reader will likely get the most benefit from a clear and cogent presentation of the high points and themes.   What are the most important 3-4 pieces of data that tell that story best? Which ideas deserve marquee placement in your story and, most importantly, what do you want the reader to DO after they understand the information you are giving them? This actionable message should be the focus of your infographic.
  • Know your limits. We’ve all seen those online ads for “Build your FREE infographic” software. But if you are looking for your infographic to move your audience to take action or donate funds, you need to invest the time, effort – and money – to do it right. Work with an artist or agency that understands your business and can be a generative partner by telling your story in a truly creative and engaging way.

Click the the example to the right to see it closer, it’s a great example of this approach in action. Charity Dynamics and PBS recently created a simple and fun benchmark graphic that uses universally recognizable icons of public television to contextualize the crucial points from benchmark data for affiliate stations’ digital fundraising programs. With a call to action for stations to ‘get smarter’ by reading the full report and ‘work cooperatively’ with PBS to get new names to grow their email list, the Sesame Street theme was a perfect way to tell the story.

Call to Action: Want to find a perfect way to tell YOUR story? Contact us at info@charitydynamics.com.