Everyone is building infographics, why not me? I actually asked myself this question the other day, and my initial answer was, "Because I have absolutely no graphic design ability at all."
Well, honestly that answer kind of pissed me off. I'm a smart girl, I can figure this out without paying a fortune, right?
Who Cares About Your Infographic?
Now, no infographic post is complete without the requisite section where we talk about the "Who Cares?" factor. Here are my suggestions for building your first infographic:
- Is your Idea going to be too long? Pare down the content – keep it simple.
- Too verbose? Limit the words, nobody reads them.
- If you can't read the whole thing, neither will they. Don’t be boring.
- Are you answering a question that's actually been asked by someone, somewhere?
- Did you consider your audience and their potential uses and desires as you came up with your idea?
Create your ideas and content with these questions in mind. Without good content, you might as well just stop now. Once you know what you want to put in the graphic, you can start figuring out how to build it.
The Search for an Infographic Solution
My search began for a web-based program that can help me. My criteria were the following:
- Free or nearly free
- No annual commitments
- Web based
- Easy to use, drag and drop, and no Photoshop required
I found a few that fit the criteria, and tried them out. My goal was to make an infographic for a home economics blog. Ultimately I wanted to build something that might go a bit viral on Pinterest. Not necessarily an infographic in the strictest sense, you're going to want to do something different I'm sure. The point is – the solutions below will work for you, no matter what your content. There's something out there to help you.
After doing some queries, I found that you can build a simple infographic with Google Docs. This is more conducive to a statistical infographic, and wouldn’t work for my purposes, but if you wanted to show how many women “Star Trek” fans are out there compared to male fans, and which demographic prefers “Deep Space Nine” to “Next Generation”, this might work for you.
Easel.ly is a pretty neat program that allows you to create an infographic from a blank slate or with their templates. Easy to use and graphically striking, this program is pretty simple to work.
Easel.ly is in beta, and registration is free. Because they're in beta, I'd expect this to eventually go paid, but for now you can create Infographics to your heart's content.
I had issues with registration, and couldn’t get back in once I registered. This is probably just a beta hiccup, but it did prompt me to move on and keep searching.
My next stop was Infogr.am (do any of these sites live on a .com?). Great interface, easy registration with Facebook, and features about five free templates, Infogr.am is pretty easy to use.
Infogr.am is limited to statistical infographics right now. That's great for anyone who wants to build an infographic based on numbers, but that wasn’t my goal for this exercise. Keep this one in mind for your next “Star Trek” demographic infographic.
Finally, I hit the jackpot. I was actually quite discouraged in my search and hopped over to Facebook for a break, and saw a Facebook ad for Piktochart.com.
Immediately I was impressed with Piktochart because they didn’t have a cutesy top-level domain (i.e. .com, .net) in their name. Then I started roaming around the site and found that with a free account I had a nice variety of templates to choose from, their pricing was reasonable at $14.99 a month if I wanted to upgrade.
I ended up upgrading, because I wanted to insert six images in my infographic, and their image upload limit was five with a free account. I guess I could have cut it down to five images, but my even number OCD and a PayPal balance burning a hole in my virtual wallet won me over.
I built a simple and effective infographic in about an hour, with an easy to use drag and drop interface that didn’t require me to Photoshop anything. I resized a few images with Pixlr.com which wasn’t entirely necessary because I could have resized right in the Piktochart program.
I was able to move all elements around, add graphics, text, design elements and overlay and adjust backgrounds with the free account. Honestly, I built the whole thing with the free account, and only upgraded to add that last image.
I had the option to save the graphic as a .png file or as raw data. I have no idea what to do with the raw data, but I imagine you could upload it into Photoshop or something and make it prettier.
Bottom line: Piktochart was easy, fun, and didn’t take hours.
If you have a great idea, and some money to invest in a custom infographic, I recommend contacting someone who excels at creating, building and marketing infographics. Check out Avalaunch Media or BlueGlass for more information.
So I've added the graphic to my blog, we'll see how it does. I made it easy to share with a plugin that creates embed code at the bottom of my post, and shared it across some platforms.
Ultimately minimal the time and dollar investment made this an exercise well worthwhile, even if it doesn’t go viral. Try these for yourself, and see if the return is worth it in your niche.
Remember to answer the questions at the top of this post before starting, because nobody likes an irrelevant and boring infographic.