Wireframe Planning: Clarify the "Big Idea" of Your Infographic - dummies

Wireframe Planning: Clarify the “Big Idea” of Your Infographic

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

When wireframing your infographic, you’ll need to clarify your “big idea.” Your infographic no doubt will have a variety of subtopics, sections, and types of information. But in all those various elements, there should always be one nugget of information or one conclusion that’s more important than everything else.

If a reader had to tell a friend what your infographic was about, have you given that reader the tools to do so?

That single big idea doesn’t always have to be groundbreaking; in many cases, you won’t be revealing brand-new information. But that doesn’t mean the core of the infographic can’t still be new and surprising to people.

Say you have information on how much time the average person spends watching TV. By itself, that’s probably information your reader doesn’t have, so it is new even if it’s not particularly interesting.

What if you were able to compare that information with another piece of data, though? For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts an American Time Use Survey, which shows that Americans spend 18 minutes per day reading, and 2.7 hours watching TV. Now a picture is revealed about the relative value people place on various activities.

As an infographic designer, you can connect the dots in ways that illuminate the numbers while tickling the readers’ sense of humor and curiosity. By doing the math, you see that people watch TV for nine times as many minutes as they read. So, perhaps you could play around with one drawing of a book and nine drawings of TVs.

The point is that having data isn’t enough: You need to provide context and analysis of that data. That will allow you to present that one big idea that resonates with readers long after they finish your infographic.

In your wireframe, now it’s time to consider which type of graphic element — pie charts, bar charts, among others — provides the best support for your main idea.

For instance, if you have groups of numbers totaling 100 percent, using a pie chart may seem like the logical choice. But other ways of representing 100 may be more visually interesting and just as accurate.

Say, for example, your percentages are 25%, 25%, 40%, and 10%. Using 100 people-shaped icons, as shown in this figure, you could shade them appropriately and create a more memorable but still totally accurate chart.


The following figure is another creative way of showing the same data.


A pie chart seems as easy as … well, pie. It can be a fine way to show a very drastic difference between a large percentage and a small percentage.

But for more complex surveys, a pie chart may be too simplistic. For example, if a survey breaks out results in ten different percentages, the text required to label each piece of the pie may clutter your infographic and make it hard to read.