How to design infographics – the ultimate guide to infographic virality
Every single day, I look at dozens and dozens of infographics.
Because almost every day of the week, I'm using other people's infographics as eye candy in my (and my client's) blogs for engagement and SEO reasons.
If given the choice between starting off with a headline or infographic, I'd take the graphic every single time…
… Infographics are visually appealing. My visitor's eyeballs naturally scan down the graphic and spill into the rest of the content on my post.
And the best part is when I make a few HTML adjustments to each infographic I "borrow", search engines send me a lifetime of traffic (even though it's not my infographic).
Big problem: most infographics aren't designed the right way
It's truly a minor miracle that most infographics "go viral." Because 99 out of 100 infographics I see aren't optimized for "virality."
The most common issue is size. Most are either sized WAY too big or too small.
Even worse, the color palettes distract and don't match (I know, I know ladies… we cavemen have a hard time figuring out what colors go together).
But the worst part is the type size is often too small to read.
So I decided to put together all of my infographic design tips and publish them here.
Introducing the ultimate infographic design guide
Put these infographic design tips into action and watch it go viral:
Set infographics EXACTLY 587 pixels wide
I've looked high and low to track down an infographic width standard.
I couldn't find one.
So I looked at 200 of the most popular blogs I follow and measured their average widths.
The result: I found most could comfortably handle 550 pixels wide. Anything wider would overlap their side-bar area.
But here's the catch. If I design a skinnier infographic and submit it to some of the most popular infographic submission sites, they're automatically resized to 587 pixels wide. Take a look:
So for example, if my infographic is just 400 pixels wide, it's going to look fuzzy and hard to read once it's enlarged 47%. Not good. Not good at all.
That's why I ALWAYS use a 587 pixel-wide template – ALWAYS.
I'm always conscious of sizing my graphics the same height and width. This is especially true if I focus my stats on just a few main points.
I do this because the search engines seem to reward this size with higher SERP rank.
Keeping it square also helps me stay LASER focused on just a few main points. And when I analyze the most popular infographics, they almost always seem to focus on one or two data points…
… Kind of like those infographics we've seen for decades gracing the bottom, left-hand corner space of the USA Today. They started publishing these infographics (known as "Snapshots") 27 years ago. Close to 30,000 have been published since… like this:
If I was forced into creating a super long infographic, I'd cap the height to 1,500 pixels – and any size longer than 4,000 pixels risks choking some blog and graphic's software.
Focus on the preview square
Some infographic submission sites offer a smaller preview of the actual-sized graphic. This is sort of like an infographic's "elevator pitch"… it's important to impress quickly as there are merely nanoseconds and a glance to impress a blogger and have them click on the preview graphic to see the full-size version.
Usually, it's a square "preview crop" of the top, center area of the submission. (Infographic submission sites like Visual.ly lets me choose the position of this area). Unfortunately, this preview pane isn't exactly big. In fact, it's quite small – as tiny as 200 pixels square:
I keep this as a priority in my mind when designing infographics. I arrange my headline and some "stat candy" to show up near each other. This way, the preview gives a hint of what I'm revealing as well as a few statistics to "reel 'em in" and get 'em to open my actual-sized infographic.
Tease a call to action (CTA)
A call to action (aka CTA) is usually a type-in URL that leads the viewer to my blog or website.
Most infographics get virally distributed because their stuffed with compelling stats and graphics. BUT, these same infographics fail to lead the visitor to an action (i.e. visit a website). Because the call to action is either buried in small type (or missing altogether).
I invest a lot of time working on stating why the visitor should go to my blog ASAP. For example, in my infographic above, I let it be known that I've got an updated list of over 250 of the most expensive keywords in Google AdWords… just go visit my blog URL to see it – like this:
Set two CTAs
Being the testing junkie that I am, I set up two slightly different URLs… one at the top of my infographic and one at the bottom…
… I just checked my tracking stats. What's interesting is the top URL gets more than 75% of the clicks.
Yet the VAST majority of infographics I see have the call-to-action URL at the bottom. Having just one URL at the bottom means many infographic owners are missing out on a lot of clicks…
… That's why I always include the URL to my site at the top AND at the bottom of each infographic I create. This way, I get the click no matter where it's positioned.
Add a QR code - it's a cinch to do.
QR codes (those funky square barcodes popping up all over the place) visually attracts visitor eyeballs into the infographic.
Infographics with QR codes look more professional (so I'm told). But even more important, when my visitor scans this code with their smartphone, they're instantly whisked to any website URL embedded in the QR code.
Why in the world would someone take a picture of a QR code on an infographic? Some are just curious. Others find it more convenient than typing in my URL.
There are TONS of QR code generators. Almost all of them are free to use. I keep finding better and better ones… click here to see my favorite free QR code generator as of this very moment.
Host infographics on a remote server
I have my infographics hosted on infographic submission sites. I get the benefit of hitching a ride on a free, beefy server that's optimized for large graphics – all without much in the way of risk. Yes, the service could go out of business, but that's okay because I submit my infographics to backup submission sites.
Hosting an infographic on my own site is a surefire way to get a nasty surcharge from the hosting company… especially when my infographic goes viral (which it often does).
If I was stubborn and insisted on hosting my own infographic, I'd contact my hosting company's tech support and ask for the best way to go about it… they might offer options that are less costly (like cloud image hosting).
Use short URLs
I find it's crucial to keep the number of characters in my website URL as low as possible.
Unlike a webpage, an infographic requires the visitor to type in the URL. And if one letter is mistyped, the page is not found. That would be a FAIL.
While it's tempting to use a URL shortener like bit.ly, I instead create my own website shortener. Many times a URL shortening service has either gone out of business or deleted one of my shortened links (because they didn't agree with the "controversial" content of my webpage).
Here's as example from just this morning:
… Instead, I make my own short URL codes right on my site using PHP. It takes less than 60 seconds to pull off. And it doesn't required advanced programming to pull it off:
Step #1: Log into the website via FTP…
Step #2: Create a redirect folder. For example, I'll go with "marketing-geek"…
Step #3: Create a file named index.php and populate it with simple PHP code (see below):
Finally, save the file, upload it within the new folder and bam – that's how to get a cool redirect – it looks like this:
(See how it redirects to one of the most popular posts on my blog?)
Set 100% perfect color
Let's be honest guys, we can't match. That's why they invented Garanimals (remember them).
Our female counterparts are much better at matching, but most infographics are designed by dudes.
The good news is I got my web designer to create this cool, online HTML color wheel… just select a color in the drop-down box and the perfect related color displays:
Like this post? If so, I've got more tutorials like this and I can send 'em by email. I share up to 5 search engine marketing secrets a day (even weekends and holidays) via email. Just add your email address to the box (found in the top, right-hand corner of this webpage)…