Common Mistakes in Creating Infographics

We’ve all been exposed to infographics since childhood. We learned how to read all types of graphs, pie charts, etc. and they were certainly useful in courses like math, social studies, and science.

We were able to visually see what percentage of a given country’s population was engaged in farming; we were able to see what percentage of the American population falls below the federally-designated poverty line; we know how many students drop out of high school.

Infographics are such an important part of our lives, because we now know that 65% of the population is comprised of visual learners. These learners prefer to see pictures, charts, graphs and figures rather than to read a lot of text.

It only stands to reason, then, that if we want to impart important and really relevant information to a targeted marketing audience, we will use more than just text. We will include infographics, or visual representations of information, which that specific audience will easily understand and in which it will have an interest. The problem is that so many content marketers become so hung up on the data they have gathered, they forget the other aspects of infographic design and a delivery. Here, then, are the most common mistakes that creators of infographics make.

Focusing on the Data Rather than the Audience

It’s exciting to have lots of data, and the impulse is always to design infographics to show all of that data. This, however, is exactly the opposite approach from the correct one. Infographics are “dead on arrival” if they do not address either your specific goal and/or your audience. If you are an adept content marketer, you have already identified your target audience, and you have already identified the “pain” and the desires of that audience. If your data is not directly related to those things, then you have no business creating an infographic on that data. Here is a prime example:

A non-profit organization, the Anti-Malaria Foundation, had, as its goal, additional donations so that it could continue to fund fighting this disease in Africa. The infographic it created consisted of nothing but data on its successes – how many doctors and clinics it has established; how many people it has saved, etc. The infographic was great looking and it contained important information. However, how was it really relevant to an audience from whom the organization wanted to get more money? It did not tell a “story” of continued need, but, if anything, told potential donors that it was being hugely successful just as it is.

Contrast that with the following infographic from the Gates Foundation, another organization that is appealing to the same audience for anti-malarial funding. It created an infographic from data of the World Health Organization, looking at the number of deaths by cause. It is pretty startling to see the number of deaths caused by mosquitoes! And the audience of potential givers will be startled by that figure as well. Thus, the “story” becomes the central theme, not the data. More people die from malaria in Africa than from any other cause. This infographic is easy to read, makes the point, and influences people to understand that malaria is a serious illness that requires more funding for prevention and cure.

The Deadliest Animal in the World

An Infographic that is too Content-Full

If your infographic is too “crowded” because you have tried to capture too much data in one place, then you need to start over. Again, think of your audience. What is the “story” they need to hear? If all of your data is absolutely essential, then you need more than one infographic. When infographics are crowded with content and figures, people won’t actually study them. Having too many data points in a single infographic overwhelms a viewer, so be careful. A good rule of thumb is to have 6 data points per graphic.

If, for example, you are “La Leche League,” you target audience is pregnant women who are trying to decide whether to breast feed or bottle feed. You want to promote breastfeeding for a number of reasons, and you might have huge amounts of data to share with your audience. You might have data showing the percentage of mothers who breast and bottle fed for the past ten years; you might have data on the percentage of working mothers who continue to breastfeed after going back to work. But what is your audience really looking for? They want to see the benefits of breastfeeding over bottle feeding. So, where are your stats on better immunities, etc.? Those are the things your infographic should address. Get rid of everything else – it’s meaningless to these soon-to-be moms!

Not Studying Infographics of Others That are Good and Bad

Do a lot of research, looking at other infographics. What catches your eye as good? Which ones have formats that are not pleasing to the eye? Which ones have good headlines and sub-headings? What colors are striking together, and which are not? You don’t want to be a thief, of course, but you can certainly borrow the great ideas that others have had and used in compelling and striking infographics. Use what has already been “invented” to your advantage.

Bad Copywriting

Your headline must provide a promise that there is something important to see in your infographic. Again, as always, think of your audience. What is its abiding concern? That is what you target in the headline.

Being too verbose is a big “no-no.” Remember, an infographic is a picture, not text.

If you are using facts and figures, make sure they are correct. Sometimes, it is a good idea to check a couple of sources just to be certain. Recently, one article on student loan debt indicated that the average loan debt after a bachelor’s degree was $30,000. Another article pinned it at $36,000. Finding the best source for this information will be important if you are to remain credible.

Remember, the simple is almost always better. Consider this infographic from introducing a post on tips for beginning bloggers. It clearly shows the important aspects of what a newbie has to learn, there is very little text, and the point has been sell made to a newcomer.

The Brain of a Blogger

Bad Use of Color

Looking at the image above, you can see that the designer has selected muted tones of basic colors. Other infographics may do well with startling colors. While it is certainly a matter of choice, choosing color combinations that are not too disparate to a normal palette are a good idea. Again, you do not have to be an artist yourself. Just look at a wide variety of infographics and choose color combinations that you find pleasing.

Lack of Responsive Design

If he infographic does not show up well on all devices, that’s a big problem, especially if appealing to an audience that is under the age of, let’s say, 65. As amazing as it may sound, many infographic designers fail to test their creations on all stationary and mobile devices.

Not Branding

Every infographic that is created as a part of content marketing is obviously not going to be a sales pitch – these are tools to compel and engage audiences not to promote. However, it is really bad marketing not to get a logo or site address in at the bottom of the visual. No one will take offense, and it will not be considered promotion.

Not sharing and Promoting Your Infographic

Just live your text content, your infographics must be shared everywhere possible. Use your networks of friends, colleagues, business associates – anyone you know, and as them all to share all of your content that contains great infographics. Share them on your own social media pages, and you should have a personal and a business page on every media site – it gives you double the coverage. And do not be shy about asking your viewers to share an infographic. Make it easy by the use of social plug-ins.


There is no magic bullet for creating great infographics, but there are four basic rules you should follow:

  1. Get good ideas first. Do not create an infographic as an after-thought because you think you need to include one in your content. Yes, your idea for an infographic should come from your content, but don’t force it. If you cannot come up with a good idea, use images to reflect what is in your content – there are free ones everywhere.
  2. Create a Good Design. We are not all artistic and we are not all wonderfully creative. That’s why there are graphic designers who make a great living – they have the design ideas. If your infographics are not going viral and no one is commenting on how cool they are, accept the fact that this is not a function you should be assuming on your own. Spend the money to get good designs – it will come back in the form of sharing and spreading and ultimately customers/followers.
  3. Write Well. Your infographic will be more visual than text. However, the text is a critical piece, and it must be precise, clear and compelling. This is especially true of your title. If you cannot come up with a catchy title, don’t publish the infographic until you do. The most important data and the greatest design will be wasted if no one is compelled to view it because your title does not engage them instantly. And don’t dare have spelling or punctuation errors – they are such a “turn-off.”
  4. Remember, above all, your audience. You know who they are, you know where they go, and you know their desires, needs, and pains. Speak to these things in your infographics, as much as you do in your written content. No one will view something they care little about, no matter how important it may be to you.

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  1. Amazing article. Many people ignore other aspects of design just becuase they want to add good content in their infographics. Even infographics filled with juicy content do not get noticed because of some poor design mistakes. A person should have some basic knowledge of design before he creates an infographic.

    You covered all the points very clearly.


  2. Thank you for comment, I am happy to know you find it usefull.

  3. Thanks Nicole for sharing this informative post. Please share more posts like this one so we could get more benefits by reading your articles.

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