Create the perfect infographic in 3 steps

Information designer Tiffany Farrant-Gonzalez explains how to turn data into accessible visual narratives for clients.

Data visualisations, charts and infographics are tools to help make data accessible and understandable – like this one, The Human Cost, which takes a look at the price of a human life across history.

It's important to choose a method of presentation that's accurate, clear and informative. So how do you do that? Here are three steps for creating the perfect infographic...

01. Get to know your data

Before you get started thinking about how you want to present your data, you need to get to know it first. Have a play with filter tables, spreadsheet columns and basic chart types to begin answering questions like:

  • How much data do you have to work with?
  • Can the data be categorised in anyway?
  • Can the data be organised chronologically?
  • Are there any outliers?

02. Let the data tell its story...

...Rather than finding data to support a pre-determined message. Putting the blinkers on and and only finding evidence to support your predefined message or narrative is a sure-fire way to completely mislead your audience (even if you have good intentions).

Infographics should be about finding the meaning within a set of data, and not about picking and choosing the data that simply supports your message or claim.

03. Choose the right visual for the job

You shouldn't sacrifice clarity in order to make something look "cool". The challenge is to strike a balance between creating something engaging and creating something helpful.

If a bar chart is the clearest way of presenting your particular dataset, don't be scared to use a bar chart.

Words and illustrations: Tiffany Farrant-Gonzalez
Tiffany currently works as a freelance information designer, turning data into visual narratives for a wide variety of clients.

The full version of this article first appeared inside net magazine issue 272, a Google Analytics special on sale now.