Wireframe Planning: Conceptualize an Overall Layout for Your Infographic

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Having a theme in mind as you work on the wireframe for your infographic can be helpful, but it’s not mandatory. After you have your information together and have some idea of the types of charts and illustrations you’ll use, you may have several ideas for an overall theme or particular layout.

The topics shown in this table are all broad topics that have obvious, familiar, and well-known visual imagery that people associate with them.

Broad Topics and Their Associated Imagery
Topic Associated imagery
Environment Trees, animals, leaves, water, Earth
Technology Smartphones, laptops, computer chips, circuitry
Education Books, teachers, students, pencils
Economics Currency, coins, dollar signs, green colors
Food Food items, drinks, culinary tools, eating utensils
Sports Balls, players, coaches, fields, arenas
Space Planets, rockets, comets, stars

If your topic doesn’t lend itself immediately to attractive visual images, you may want to run a quick Internet search to see how others have illustrated your topic. Or, rather than trying to brainstorm specific images, you may want to think of your topic in general terms. For example, if you are working on an infographic on the consumer price index, broaden your focus to economics.

Some topics lend themselves to integrating the data into the background imagery, as described in this list:

  • If you have information about forest health, use the background of a forest and create illustrations that play off that. For instance, use leaves and tree trunks to illustrate percentages, or make your bar graphs look like branches.

  • If your infographic is about gasoline consumption around the world, create a street scene that depicts cars painted with the national flags driving down a street. Or, you could make the cars sized proportional to their consumption, so the real gas-guzzlers are larger than the cars from countries that use less gas.

  • A cutaway of a house could give you a fun way to depict spending and budgeting. If the family spent $1,200 on their TV, show the TV displaying that dollar amount on its screen. Maybe they spend $300 a week on groceries; have a family member open the refrigerator door to reveal a milk carton with the dollar amount on the carton.

You may have ideas on a theme well before you begin researching and writing, and the wireframe is a great way to get them down on paper before committing. The risk of planning a theme before you do a bit of research is that the data you reveal may not fit into that plan, and you will have to rethink things if you paint yourself into a corner.

In the end, allow the data to guide the visual, not the other way around.