We’ve all heard the cliche ‘a picture tells a thousand words’. That’s because it’s true. Humans are visual creatures. In fact, according to this paper published on the American Journal of Ophthalmology, 50% of our neural tissue is, in some way, related to vision. That’s half of our brain.
In the past, quick visual processing was the difference between life and death for our ancestors – they needed to be able to distinguish between predator and prey, assess terrain and decide which berries were safe to eat. Now, in modern times and modern cities, we don’t need to be on the lookout for a raging t-rex, but the ability to process and react to images extraordinarily fast is still hard wired in our brains.
Tapping into this knowledge when designing an infographic is important. It creates an edge over other designers. Infographics are visual pieces of content that need to be grasped and consumed insanely fast. If a reader cannot quickly skim through an infographic to decide if it’s of interest or not, they will lose attention and gravitate towards other, more compelling content.
Therefore, minimizing the amount of text and maximizing visual elements is the only way to go. In fact, a group of MIT neuroscientists found out that our brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. Utilizing images, shapes and icons makes your infographic attention-grabbing and memorable.
I had the pleasure to talk with our fantastic designers and I absorbed some fantastic and super useful insights on this topic, so today we will learn how to get away from too much text and instead go visual.
How To Shift Away From Too Much Text & Go Visual
Designing an image-based content isn’t easy. Many content producers gravitate towards text as their default way of sharing because it’s descriptive and easy to craft. However, as we already mentioned above, images are much more powerful.
The first step is using icons and imagery, as they can help you tell your story with impact and emotion. Going back to our first sentence, images tell a thousand words.Your job is to make sure that your picture speaks the RIGHT thousand words. The visual elements you choose must interact peacefully with the theme, typeface and visual elements of your infographic.
Let’s say you are designing an infographic to promote a homemade horror movie. By using a dark and creepy image as a background,the typeface and colors suddenly creates a feeling of gloom and despair.
Now, let’s switch the background image, and add a few icons.
We added images and icons, but they make no sense. They have no relationship with the theme, color scheme or typeface of the design, so they look ridiculous.
The second step, which I believe is extremely important, is to utilize the header to speak to your story. A great headline allows the reader to quickly grasp what the information is about, while minimizing the body text.
This is the introductory block for an infographic we worked on a few weeks ago for the post How To Transform Text Into Compelling Images That Tell A Story.
By crafting a super descriptive header/subheader combination, we already set ourselves up for success. There is no need to be super descriptive on every point, as the reader already knows the main theme of the infographic.
The final step, which is strictly related to the second one, is to only use body text to elaborate on key points. This explains something that otherwise couldn’t have been relayed with an image or icon. Too much text ruins the advantage of a visual element – be it vector images or photography image.
One quick tip: refrain from repeating what the header has already conveyed.
Embracing Visual Elements: The Top 3 Secrets
Utilizing visual elements is a complex skill to master. However, as a non-designer who sometimes designs, I discovered 3 secrets or tips that help me everyday when designing infographics, images, banners or websites.
No need to become a true expert. If you grasp these concepts, you’ll be 80% there. Let’s see.
White space is the first lady of design. Although often left aside, it’s extremely important. Sufficient and balanced proximity between visual elements provides enough white space to avoid clutter in your design. It prevents the reader from feeling overwhelmed and in general, provides enough space to “breath” between content and absorb the information you want to convey.
Sufficient white space between visual elements allows users to focus on consuming and absorbing each element separately.
Remember narrating through hierarchy? Letting users focus on the right elements guides them through the story you want to tell, and sufficient white space helps you do that perfectly.
There’s nothing more disturbing that an incorrectly aligned design. It’s uncomfortable to watch. Let’s see.
As you can observe, alignment maintains the neatness of your information and content. Without alignment, the design would potentially be messy (or pixel imperfect, which can annoy many people who are perfectionists!), and mess drives people away. Plus, while proper alignment keeps it neat, it also increases readability at the same time, which is one less barrier for readers to consume your content.
To help you out, our infographic design tool has an amazing component: Piktochart’s snap-to-align feature acts as a guide to help users align visual elements in order to keep the layout and design organized. Simply drag a shape or icon through the editor, and observe how it is guided towards the center of the canvas!
While every visual element plays a part in telling a visual story, it’s important to be seamless. Being consistent throughout your visual design helps narrate the story without even a bump.
Out-of-place elements will bring readers out of the experience and impact their focus on consuming your content. We already discovered this in the first part of this post when comparing the two ‘The Dark Train’ movie posters. One achieves it’s goal, the other is ridiculous.
When consistent visuals successfully help you tell stories, texts no longer become the sole storytelling medium. They instead provide extra power to images.
If you are looking for some tips on consistency, our latest post Clean Design Tips: How To Pick Icons And Text And Keep Them Consistent is a great place to start!
Now that you know the basics on how to get away from too much text and go visual, start implementing them in your own infographics. If you want, share them with the Piktochart community in the comments! We’d love to give them a look and offer some feedback!