Fun with Infographics

By Elizabeth Hummel, posted on April 30, 2019

Trade show season is upon us and that turns our thoughts to a perennial favorite in event visuals:  the infographic. While trade shows aren’t the sole home of this data-rich visual cue, the artful infographic has had quite a rebirth in the age of digital publishing. But keep in mind that designing infographics for events requires a greater discipline and adherence to purpose than in some other mediums.

It Starts with Good Design

In a digital publication, information can be pored over and complex layers of meta data clicked through at leisure, but trade show, event and transit design have the additional restriction of time. There are but a fleeting few seconds to attract, direct and inform a prospective customer. Of course, this is not the sole responsibility of the infographic; there is also a triad of other design requirements that make for an effective graphic layout: a good design will be aesthetically pleasing, it will fit the scale of the space and consider the method of presentation.

You must first start with design. “But, wait!” you say. “We started talking about how to make visuals communicate and now you tell me its most important to make sure they are pretty?”  Well, yes.

Attract, Direct, Inform

The first job of a communication graphic is to attract and, quite simply, a graphic that uses melodramatic stock images or endless tones of the same color will not draw the eye and is less attractive. Our design staff is trained to use color, shape and form to make the graphics project and attract the viewer.

Once we have the viewer’s attention we must direct it to the most important areas of our graphic. Our copywriters and designers have seen other teams inadvertently hiding their companies’ main message – dropping a descriptive tagline or forgetting to add a call-to-action – all because once the design is done and the big, meaty infographic is placed, there suddenly doesn’t seem to be enough room for all the elements. The scale of the design slips. The solution: hands off the directive content. You need it to introduce the meat of the content, so you can inform the viewer.

Why Bells and Whistles Don’t Work

At an event, you have to use the initial attract and direct steps to create a speed bump to slow people and get them to the mental state where they can absorb new data. A good infographic will use appropriate scale and colors to allow its data hierarchy to be obvious, even if the viewer is on the run. Ironically, making the graphic initially obvious is the best way to slow a prospect down further so they take time to study.  An infographic will have layers of visually coded information that can be read and understood by scanning and studying.

“But, wait!” I hear you say again. “We use the infographics from our web site, so I don’t have to redesign them. Plus, they move and twinkle and are animated – I don’t need to worry about people missing them!”  This is where the discipline comes in:  a twinkling, moving, animated graphic may attract a passerby, but doesn’t consider the directive aspect necessary to actually convey the information. The human mind will flit away from it and from the deeper information you are trying to communicate. Directive content, that is, the vital content you are trying to convey, will not be consistently displayed as the image is changing. The lesson? Work closely with your graphic designer and copy writer to make sure that you are addressing all three legs of the stool – attract, direct and inform.

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