Previously we discussed things to consider while planning your infographic and ways to display your data. Now we are ready to think about how the content and data will impact the layout of the infographic.

I’ve put together five key questions that will save you time and act as a checklist if you are talking about the project with colleagues, clients or vendors.

What kind of theme or tone is right?

Is the tone fun and goofy or businesslike but personable? Pirates vs. Ninjas or fake medieval houses? Does each section of the infographic take us deeper into the earth or closer to the stars? Knowing the hook of your story and the tone that will resonate well with your audience is key.  Here are three more bonus questions to consider:

  • Do you already have a grid system or layout and assets you use in other materials?
  • Is there an established way of presenting this type of information?
  • Would “disrupting that help you?

Does your goal/key takeaway influence the layout?

The flow of the layout should strongly support the goal or key takeaway. In part four of this series we will look at different layout options. When you think about where this information would have the most impact, that will help you determine the best layout for your message. For example, if you are using phrases like “continuous or cycle” then a layout that shows a beginning and end following a path or going clockwise might best support your point.

If someone could only see the upper 1/3rd of your infographic, would it engage them?

Whether they are long, vertical infographics or slide style, a strong title and careful use of the top 1/3rd of the layout area maximizes the impact of the piece. If you drew a rough title and a few shapes on a whiteboard or paper to explain your idea to someone but then covered over the lower 2/3rds, would they be intrigued and want to know more?

What type of story is it?

Back when we were talking about planning an infographic and later when we explored different ways to show data, we were shaping the story. Often there is more than one layout that would work fine, but we want to really grab people in a sea of infographics. An investment in comparing the different approaches to telling the story can be what puts our graphic on cubicle walls and causes it to be shared virally on social media.

Types of story approaches include:

  • Edutainment with a bunch of graphics
  • A cycle or journey
  • An ecosystem
  • A dashboard of stats and data points
  • A focused illustration supporting a key statement

If you want to explore mocking up more than one and A/B testing them, that could lead to some interesting insights.

How will it be distributed?

The copy is written, the data is collected and the story is refined. While content creation and iteration can be a big eater of project time, and even larger one that opens up all kinds of scope keep is not thinking ahead about distribution.

Here are three things to consider before you move to the layout stage:

  • If you need it for media & PR, size and layout is critical.
  • Does it need to be shipped/mailed?
  • Given away at a show or event?

If you don’t know the answer to them, now is the time to find out. This will tighten up project requirements, clarify stakeholder expectations and open up additional opportunities to distribute your message while reusing assets.

Bonus question: Have you talked to a printer or researched sizes for online media?

Hooray a bonus question! If you even remotely think the finished infographic might be printed, talking to a printer gives you a great source of advice on folding and finishing, sizes, papers and finishes, and cost saving opportunities. Many printers also do fulfillment, where they will print, fold/finish and then ship to where you need to. Many of them also provide variable data, special metallic or surface finishes such as flocking, and interesting shipping package containers.  You should also go ahead and be thinking about how you will be sharing the infographic online. Sizes vary between social media platforms, advertising systems, and share sites like Slide-share. If you know what you are making has to look awesome on Slide-share but the finished piece is the wrong size, that is going to cause more headaches after all the hard work is done.

I hope you enjoyed these questions. What do you struggle with when choosing a layout?