If there’s one thing I love to do on a computer, it’s to play around with new software. Whenever I download something new, I like to go in and push all the buttons and flip all the switches and mess with every single setting.
As much fun as it is to see how many fonts I can use in my new text editor, I often lose sight of why I downloaded the app in the first place. I get caught up in the new and the shiny, and I don’t ever start actually working towards my goals.
It’s easy to do something similar in Piktochart. We’ve got so many features and tools and adornments (don’t get me started on all those text frames!) that it’s easy to forget why you’ve started designing your infographic in the first place. We know how it is. It happens to us, too.
To help you stay focused on getting from where you are to where you want to be, we’ve put together a quick list of the things you need to do before you land on the Piktochart dashboard. Follow these steps and set yourself up for success before you even start designing your infographic.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Idea
It all starts with an idea. Infographics work best if you have a strong, clear idea of your message before you go any further. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started to design an infographic only to realize 30 minutes later that what I needed to say could’ve been summed up in a tweet or super short Medium post. You need to evaluate your idea for its strengths (and possible weaknesses) before you go any further.
Ask yourself these questions before you move on:
- Who is my audience for this message?
- What types of messages do they typically respond to? Catchy and clever? More cut and dry?
- Is this something that needs to be explained?
- Likewise, is this something that is best explained with words and pictures? Would a different format like a long-form blog post or a quick video be more effective?
If you allow yourself to be critical of your idea and you can evaluate it for its merits, you’ll be more successful in the long term.
Step 2: Do Your Research
It’s not enough to have an idea. No idea is complete without valid and reliable information to support it, and the way to get that information is to do your research. Research is a critical step in learning how to make an infographic.
Including dependable sources of information like articles, case studies, and reference documents adds credibility to you and to your infographic. In addition, if you gather more data, you have more opportunities to create charts and graphs.
Try searching these databases for topics and information related to your idea. You could also use a tool like Google Books or Google Scholar for quotations and citations. If you decide to go a less formal route and cite media outlets like the New York Times, the BBC, or the Associated Press, check the date the story was published to ensure that the information is up-to-date. While you’re at it, check the URL to make sure your story isn’t from a fake news site that’s trying to fool you be being styled like one of the more official outlets.
When doing your research, don’t forget to run a good old-fashioned Google search to see what’s already out there. Check whether there are any published infographics on your topic already and ask yourself: am I bringing anything new to the table? It’s all about finding a unique angle that will make your infographic stand out from the crowd, but mostly importantly, the one that will answer questions that haven’t been fully answered before.
Step 3: Create an Outline
You have a central idea, and you have the research to support it. Now it’s time to separate, order, and organize your information. It’s time to create an outline.
Much like a well-written book or a blog post, a good infographic has a structure and a flow that helps the reader follow along. If you take the time to draft an outline on paper (on using a mind-mapping tool like XMind or MindNode), you’ll spend less time wondering and wandering once you’re in the Piktochart editor.
Start with your main idea, then break it down into parts. You don’t have to get too granular, but you’ll want to highlight at least 2-3 larger portions of your main idea. This will make both drawing your rough draft (our next step) and picking an infographic template easier.
Remember: the goal here is to get you from idea to creation as efficiently as possible. If you can streamline the design process before you start, you’ll have fewer opportunities to get distracted or overwhelmed.
Step 4: Draw a Rough Draft
Now you get to exercise that creative muscle you haven’t had a chance to use since your high school art class. The next step is to draw a rough draft.
I have two reasons why I recommend drawing a rough draft on paper instead of jumping directly into Piktochart. First, sketching on paper allows your brain to take advantage of the translation of ideas to shapes. Sketching has many benefits: it increases your memory; it allows for the flexibility when structuring your thoughts; and it’s great for serendipity, those A-HA! moments when you have a great idea for something to add or change.
Second, translating your outline to paper gives it a more tangible structure. This helps when you get to the last step of our process (spoiler alert!), deciding on a infographic template type. If you know that your information lends itself more to a comparison layout instead of a timeline, that makes selecting from our collection of more than 500 templates less intimidating.
Consider using one piece of paper for each infographic block you’ll be designing or simply use a big sized paper that can fit your entire drawing. Think about what message needs to be conveyed on each of the blocks and which elements you think you’ll need: will it be a photo or an icon? How can I best showcase this statistic?
Step 5: Gather Your Assets
To this point, most of the work you’ve been doing has been focused on words and numbers. But that’s not why you decided to create an infographic, is it? After all, the word “infographic” is more than 70% “graphics”! At this point in the process, you’ll need to gather your assets.
This part of the process is about getting together all of the supplemental “stuff” you’ll want in your infographic: data for your charts and graphs; copy, icons, images, photos and other visuals; and your logo (if you have one) all fall into this category.
The easiest way to gather these resources is to place them all on your Desktop or in another commonly accessed folder (in Google Drive for instance). We’re streamlining here, so the fewer steps it takes to find and use these images, the better off you are. You’ll likely want to upload the visuals and import your chart data into Piktochart after we finish the next step.
In this step, make sure your copy is ready. Think captions, headers and captivating call-to-actions versus long paragraphs of text. Make sure your copy is well-written and proofread. Ask a colleague or a friend who is detail-oriented and run your copy through them. Second pair of eyes is always needed!
Step 6: Pick Your Template Type
You’ve made it to the last step. If you’ve resisted the temptation to start designing up to now, this final stage of the process should be all but done for you already. Now is when you get to pick your template type.
There are eight main categories of infographic layouts and templates. We’ve talked about them before. With the information you’ve gathered through research and the ideas you’ve generated from outlining and drafting, this part should be a no-brainer. Take a look at what you’ve got, pick a template type, and search for it from the new Piktochart dashboard. Choose one that looks good to you and customize it to fit your needs.
I understand the desire to jump right into the awesome and see what you can create. But I promise that if you follow these steps and do the work before you start designing your infographic, the process will be less daunting and more enjoyable.
Here is the cheatsheet again. Feel free to memorize, print or share it!
Do you have a process that you follow before you start designing your infographic? Did I forget anything? Let me know down in the comments!