In an ideal world we’d all have large budgets that allow us to hire talented designers and researchers in order to make up exiting infographics to help market our business. But this isn’t an ideal world and as such, often we find ourselves in a position where we’ve had a great idea for an image that’s almost guaranteed to get 100s of social shares, but we’ve run out of the budget for graphics for the year.
So how about making our own? There’s now plenty of tools online to be found that can help us and with some good research to come up with facts and figures that rock, and with a little bit of an eye for design, there’s no reason why you can’t make up nice images for your brand.
Do your Research
Firstly, when you begin planning your infographic think about the subject matter and how this relates to your brand. Try to find some research that really resonates with your audience. Industry reports and surveys are an excellent source for infographics as they tend to give numbers that work well with infographics. White papers too can be highly useful for getting snippets of information that you can use and represent graphically.
It’s worth spending some time on the research phase and getting much more information than you need. You should also use this time to carry out a little research on some of the best infographics produced by the big companies. You’ll see that at the bottom of the image, there’s often a lot of links in very small type. This references the material that’s been used to make the infographic – there’s usually a fair amount of it.
There are quite a lot of infographic DIY tools available and many of them do charge. For example, Piktochart is a popular tool and you can create free infographics using the free templates but it charges $29 per month for a subscription if you want more options to ‘Go Pro’. That’s not a huge amount of money though and it’s definitely worth it if you’re going to making images regularly.
It’s easy to use too, with a drag and drop WYSIWYG interface and the ability to upload your own images. You can choose shapes and icons from the menu on the left and save your image either to your computer or on the site. For making up basic infographics, the free version is enough, but for more advanced images that are a little different from others out there, then do Go Pro.
A similar resource is easel.ly, which is free to use in its basic form or you can sign up for a pro account from just $18 per month. The pro version gives you more fonts and images and you can remove ads.
The layout of the editor is so simple it would actually be suitable for a child to use. You can choose to insert objects, text, shapes and images and change the theme. This is suitable for complete design beginners as it’s extremely straightforward to make up an image. However, it’s far from the only one on the market, there are a huge number of apps that work in a similar way.
Take Dipity for example. This site offers something a little different in that it presents images in a timeline. This is great if you’re looking to take your infographic a little outside of the norm and present it differently. The interface for creating your timeline is not quite as simple as easel.ly’s, but it’s not terribly difficult to use either. When I used the resource, I did find that the social sign up and login buttons don’t seem to work properly though as it wouldn’t let me login so you’ll have to sign up ‘manually’.
To start a project, you simply give it a name and description and upload a thumbnail image. Then you can start to add ‘Events’ either manually or by choosing ‘Search’ which imports data from your social media timelines in order to build your timeline on the site.
However, I found the social integration to be all round buggy on the site, which is a shame as it’s such a good idea. There’s only certain social sites that you can add to the timeline from as well, in ‘Search’ there’s Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Google News, which seem like an odd bundle of choices, whilst in the photos option that points to Flickr and Picasso. Whilst the social features may not be the best though, you can create a timeline by uploading manually and creating descriptions and tags.
Dipity isn’t really so much a resource for creating infographics that you can share extensively, but it’s a fun and useful one for presenting lots of information on a timeline. You can integrate with any of the free blogging platforms and set it so that it automatically imports your blog updates and places them on your timeline. You can download your timeline if you’re a premium user – prices range from $4.95 pm to $99.95 pm – and you can perform batch uploads.
Solid Research is Vital
Is it worth it? It’s a novel and interesting way of presenting information which can be shared with the Dipity community, so yes, if you have the time and inclination to play around with it.
You can of course use commercial graphic design tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator if you’re confident with these. It does take a little playing around with layouts etc. to get things right though. Or you can use GIMP, which is similar to Photoshop but is open source so doesn’t come with the extremely hefty price tag.
Creating your own infographic isn’t particularly simple but there are tools that can help. My advice would be to start simple and to back up the graphics with some solid research so that you can present interesting and engaging information. Infographics do especially well on Google+ too, so if you’re active on the site and using it for marketing, then do make up at least one.