It feels like infographics are the new QR codes. Many people creating emails, direct mail appeals or quick one-pagers begin with the idea that they’re “not going to have a lot of copy—make it very graphic…We’re going to use A LOT OF INFOGRAPHICS…”
There’s nothing wrong with deciding to be brief. And choosing to be more graphic than copy heavy is usually a good choice.
The problem here is that infographics are a tool suited for specific communications challenges. Not something you decide you’re using at the outset regardless of the information you’re dealing with.
Here are some quick parameters for deciding when to use infographics in your materials—and when you likely need to go another route:
When to use them:
Scannable, meat and potatoes information (sea of infographics): 6 to 8 chunks of information that need to be included, can stand alone, but aren’t particularly revelatory.
When it suits the medium: Emails, annual reports, websites—think twice on appeal letters and personal messages from leadership, donors, volunteers, etc. Humans don’t speak in infographics. You can include them in your layout, but not as part of the messaging coming from a person.
When you want it to stand out (infographic island): 1 or 2 super compelling bits of information you really want to leap out at the reader—don’t let this kind of content get lost in the “sea” mentioned above.
When not to use them:
When the stat/callout requires qualifiers or background: Infographics are not the place for elaborate description or information that requires context to be understood—if it’s not a quick hit, choose something else.
When the numbers aren’t impressive: Be extra critical here—if the stats, percentages, or growth really isn’t that remarkable resist the urge to highlight it with an infographic.
When the information is a dud: There are many things terribly exciting to internal teams and leadership that are simply not relevant or meaningful to your constituents and donors. Rely on a good editor to make the call.