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How to Fix Each of the 7 Mistakes That Ruin a Good Infographic There's no point in making a carelessly designed infographic because it won't resonate with your audience. Make sure you aren't making these seven disastrous mistakes.

By Derek Miller

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


A well-designed infographic is a powerful communication tool that draws the eye through a tight progression of well-curated facts, using illustrations that help the viewer understand the concepts at a glance.

But not all infographics are well-designed. A poorly rendered infographic leaves viewers confused, skeptical or even mistrustful of you as its source. Make sure you're not making any of the following fatal mistakes in your infographic designs.

1. Your infographic does not tell a cohesive story.

A strong infographic needs a reason to exist. You should be able to clearly summarize the purpose of your infographic in a single sentence. Are you trying to influence the reader's opinion, persuade them or inform them?

The entire infographic must be organized around your concept. Think about the way you would organize an essay on the same topic, with an introductory paragraph and then a point-by-point analysis, pulling your reader toward a logical conclusion.

Here's how to fix it.

Always begin by clearly stating your goal, and guard against moving away from that target during the process. When you're making final edits, remove any extraneous information that doesn't serve your goal, and make sure the remaining elements are in the most logical order to support your objective.

2. Your infographic has too many words.

The worst infographics look like short articles printed on a colorful background with illustrations.

Readers enter an infographic expecting a quick shot of visual information. When they see hundreds of words, they will exit the page, and look for a different source.

If you need a lot of words to get your point across, either your graphics aren't working hard enough, or your concept doesn't lend itself to an infographic format.

Here's how to fix it.

Publish all of your words in a blog post format.

Then pull out only the facts and statistics that lend themselves to illustration, and build your infographic around those. Include a link to your article in the introduction of the infographic, so those who want more depth can find it.

3. Your infographic doesn't communicate information.

An infographic depends on images to tell a story. There's no room for cute illustrations that don't convey facts.

If your data point is a comparison of census statistics, showing that the population is booming in your city, a cartoon census man holding a clipboard is a poor choice.

A small group of people next to a vaguely larger group of people isn't much better. Your graphic should visually summarize the comparison in a meaningful way that directly illustrates the numerical data. Readers want to see, at a glance, exactly how much the population has grown.

Here's how to fix it.

Check each element for relevancy, and drop anything that is pure decoration. Assign each graphic the job of conveying a data point with as much accuracy and impact as possible.

4. Your infographic data is questionable.

Questionable data stands out vividly in an infographic format. Your sources must be impeccable, and your facts clearly stated.

Stick with a handful of reputable sources, listed clearly at the bottom of the graphic. Factual errors, dubious sources and grossly misrepresented facts are an unfortunate epidemic among marketers, and savvy readers spot them immediately. When your entire communication depends on statistics and data, you need to present that data responsibly.

Here's how to fix it.

Dig deep for your sources.

If you found information on Wikipedia, or another less-than-stellar resource site, follow its footnotes, or do your own research until you find a reputable source for that information. Then read it carefully to make sure the version you started with wasn't distorted.

5. Your infographic contains errors.

The editing process can result in some strange errors that are easy to miss when you've read the original sources, but they are glaringly obvious to your readers.

A common mistake is to edit a headline like, "Exercise Reduces the Risk of Early Death by Heart Attack or Cancer by X%" to read "Exercise Reduces Your Risk of Death by X%."

Of course, the risk of death is always 100 percent, so the second statement, while common, is nonsensical. Another issue that can arise is a pie chart with sections that add up to more than 100 percent, or charts created on the wrong axises that don't illustrate data correctly.

Related: 9 Reasons Your Infographic Didn't Succeed

Here's how to fix it.

Hire someone with fresh eyes, who wasn't part of the creation process, to proofread your material. Better yet, enlist a couple of critical readers, and give them instructions to pick apart both the text and the images.

6. Your infographic contains meaningless or distorted statistics.

Correlation does not equal causation.

One-hundred percent of people who committed murder ingested water in some form during the week they committed their crime. Does water cause people to commit murder? Of course not.

Graphics can also distort the meaning of data by placing unrelated numbers side by side. You could graph the number of bedbugs found in New York hotels next to the fuel consumption rates of jet airplanes, for instance, and imply that as bedbug populations increased, they affected fuel consumption.

This example is clearly ridiculous, but marketers often use two sets of numbers, which are not connected, to manipulate their readers. If people see through this tactic, your credibility is ruined.

Related: Design to Inspire (Infographic)

Here's how to fix it.

If you're including correlation statistics in your infographic, make sure you can cite a reliable source that supports a connection. Don't graph two data sets on the same axises unless it actually shares a measurement.

7. Your infographic doesn't guide the reader's eye.

A solidly constructed infographic will help the reader find their way through the data from beginning to end without distractions or visual confusion.

If readers can't make sense out of the data at a glance, or if your design feels cluttered or disorganized, they will give up very quickly.

Related: 7 Super Tips for Creating Powerful Infographics

Here's how to fix it.

Keep your background and fonts simple, and prune your information mercilessly to create a simple visual that doesn't confuse the eye. Use the size of your type and graphics to show the relative importance of each piece of information. Use arrows or lines to pull the reader through the information, and allow negative space between elements.

Creating amazing infographics requires a commitment to high-quality data, visual storytelling and careful editing. Correcting these common problems will turn your infographics into robust, persuasive tools.

Derek Miller

Content Marketing and Social Media Strategist

Derek Miller is a content marketing consultant for CopyPress. He has the startup bug and loves working in the fast-paced world of online marketing. In his spare time he is building a website for fantasy sports fans and players to share and find advice.

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