The word of the decade is infographic. My word of the new year is DIY Infographic. These visual summaries display info and data in an eye-popping graphic summary, and media consumers gobble them up.
“A picture is worth a thousand words” no matter what kind of writing we do, but especially in blogging. Online writing and social media demand crisp, interesting images and lots of them.
As far as I can understand, the magical media formula is something like this:
Great content = Concise words + pictures that pop
This combo achieves what I call The ka-Pow! Factor: When great text is ramped up by slick images. Infographics make blog pages sparkle, and they are easy for your readers to share on social media.
Nothing says ka-Pow! like an infographic.
These little babies spice up an article, but they also serve to break up blocks of text into appetising morsels. Today’s readers like their info in snack-sized portions. Infographics are the perfect digital snack–wholesome info-bites wrapped in gooey graphic goodness. Yummo!
Infographic creation used to be the uncontested realm of talented graphic designers, but these days, the web offers a full range of tools to create your own. I’ll review my favourite web tools as I explore them, so stay tuned for future posts. Here’s a short list to start off this series of DIY Infographic web tools. Most offer free versions, with premium products ranging in price from about $12-$29 per month.
Easel.ly (Trial results below. Read on!)
Venngage (My next stop. I have high hopes for this one.)
Infogr.am (I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you their premium plan is currently on sale. 50% off!)
Steep Learning Curve
I discovered that, even with these amazing tools, creating a gorgeous infographic is an art form best left to trained professionals. My first attempt is proof. Learning to make them is fun–if you enjoy poking yourself in the eye with dried thistles or being mocked and thistle-whipped by a drunken pack of rabid monkeys. But maybe you do. Who am I to judge?
Trial #1 – easelly
I used easel.ly for my first foray into the DIY graphics arena. It was a hit or miss affair–mostly miss. The site seemed to lack instructions. As in: they just throw new users into the rabid monkey pit and watch the antics from the grandstand. If they don’t watch newbies, they should. The spectacle must be hilarious, especially when the noob from Spilling Ink (moi) irreversibly shrinks the 3-hour product at the last step.
DIY Infographic 2.0 (displayed at the top in all its glory) is the result of my second attempt at easelly. (15 Essential Apps was my first attempt, and what you see is the result of a complete re-do. Hence, the three-hour ordeal with thistle-wielding monkeys became four.)
Once you work out which rope to pull, creating infographics is not a bad experience. easel.ly offers an iPad app as well, which I used above.
- Pros: Ease of drop-n-drag; iPad app; totally free.
- Cons: Minimal instructions; results look generic.
The cookie-cutter results can be a little disappointing. In fact, if you’re an infographic fan, don’t bother checking out the sites above. It spoils the “magic.” Kind of like when you see how sausage is made, you lose your appetite for it.
I’ll hang in there with these DIY-infographic-creating doo-hickeys. The possibilities are too tantalising. Being able to create customised graphics to support my articles is too enticing a possibility to give up.
And, well, once I got the hang of it, I did enjoy myself. Here’s a great how-to article written by a graphic designer for some inspiration.
Of course, if I were a hot-shot journo or big-name blogger, I could pay a graphic designer to torture herself in my stead. People with big budgets (in other words, not your average blogger) can hire a pro to create fully customised, branded infographics. I was astounded to see price tags for this service ranging around the $1500 mark.
I’m obviously in the wrong field…
Over to You
Have you tried to make your own graphics? How did it go? Share your stories in the comments.