Consider the Density and Appearance of Your Infographics

Density refers to how many charts are in your infographic as a whole. To a great degree, design principles will govern how many you pack in and don’t forget your all-important white space! But ultimately, you determine how data-dense your graphic is.

The rules on density follow the rules on complexity: If your audience is the general public, keep the density a bit lower than it would be if you were creating something for an audience of specialists.

An infographic that looks like a wall of data can be alienating rather than inviting. An audience of specialists, on the other hand, can be more willing to engage with a very dense graphic if it covers their area of expertise.

The appearance, or look, of your infographic, from the layout to the style of your drawings to the colors, should also be tailored to your audience. Consider a rocket infographic that appeals to rocket scientists versus one for children. You would expect a clear contrast in how each version looks.

The graphic for scientists might feature cutaway photos or drawings detailing the rocket’s engines. It would probably feature a relatively large amount of text, written at a college reading level. By comparison, the art for the children’s graphic would be simple, perhaps even cartoonish, with only the major parts of the rocket labeled. You’d want to keep the text extremely simple.

Obviously, most infographics don’t face such a stark choice between audiences, but the point is that you need to think of what’s going to attract — and please — your reader’s eye.

To use another example, a chart showing the performance of the U.S. stock market that’s running on an irreverent news site isn’t going to look the same as it would if it were running in a venerable financial journal. The whole visual feel of the two charts should be different even though they contain the exact same information.

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