Have you wondered how people create those beautiful graphics you see on the Internet? What makes a graphic professional-looking, and how can you do them yourself?
Graphics and visuals are everywhere on the Internet these days. Instagram and Pinterest are on the rise. Tweets with images get more retweets on Twitter, according to several articles I’ve read.
With the rise of Pinterest and all of the information about the Internet becoming increasingly visual, graphics on your blog are important. If your blog topic is visually heavy, at some point you’ll find you need to create a chart or a graph. A few visual topics that come to mind are fashion, hair and make-up, and cooking. Graphics or step-by-step charts would really enhance those types of blog posts.
Even if your topic isn’t naturally visually heavy, research shows that visuals are still important. I read an article recently about the brain that says vision is your strongest sense. Adding a visual helps people remember 65 percent of your message.
My topic of blog writing and editing advice isn’t naturally as visually heavy as, say, a cooking blog. But I realize the importance of visuals, so I’ve created a branded graphic to go with each of my blog posts. I’ve written a previous post on this topic.
Connecting visually with your readers starts with a good graphic. But what makes a graphic good? A good graphic should have:
- Accuracy: The data should be accurate, complete and up to date. And it should be easy to interpret.
- Clarity: Make sure the reader can understand it and discern what you’re trying to say.
- Simplicity: It should have an uncluttered appearance. Only include the minimum items necessary for understanding the information.
- Attribution: Tell where the data comes from. Put the source at the bottom, along one side, or in the corner.
A good graphic is more than just a simple pie chart or line graph. It needs a few more elements to make it complete. A complete graphic contains seven elements:
- Headline or title: This identifies what information the chart is presenting to your readers.
- Chart: This is the central feature of the graphic. The type of chart should be appropriate for data.
- Labels: Make sure you label the elements of the graphic to make them understandable.
- Explainer box: This is a short paragraph that explains and helps the reader interpret the chart.
- Legend: If you use symbols or colors in the chart, this identifies what each one means. This element may or may not be necessary.
- Source: This tells where the information for the chart comes from.
- Credit: Tell who built the chart. If it’s you, great! If it’s someone else, then you definitely want to give them credit.
Graphics can be used for several purposes. They’re a great way to share numbers, especially complex numbers that need to be simplified for your readers. If you have a lot of numbers in a blog post, break those out into a graphic that shows them visually. Pie charts, bar charts and line graphs can be part of a larger graphic to show the relationships between numbers. Graphics are also a great way to give step-by-step instructions with pictures. Graphics are also great for showing locations or maps, which would help a travel blogger show readers a place.
Graphics aren’t just good for helping your readers remember and interpret your blog message. Graphics also help drive engagement and sharing of your posts. A helpful resource is this article on Social Media Examiner about why you should use images and how they can drive traffic to your website.
What if you’re not a professional graphic designer, and don’t have the money to hire one? You can still create quick, easy, and good graphics. I use Photoshop for mine, but I have an old version of the program that I’ve hung onto for several years. I also learned to use Photoshop in my time as a newspaper designer.
Photoshop is a big, sophisticated and expensive program. But it’s not the only graphics program, so don’t let not having it or not knowing it be a barrier to creating good graphics. Social media expert Kim Garst recently wrote a post about six free tools to create nice graphics.
Some of my favorite infographics are visually appealing, informative and organized. I bookmark them so I can refer back to them later. Here are a couple:
Social Marketing Writing has a nice “Cheat Sheet to Pinterest Limits.”
Sarkemedia.com has one on the “Blogconomy.” My criticism is that it takes three steps to get this one to magnify where you can see it, but once you do, it’s quite informative.
The best graphics are complete with all of the elements and professional-looking, and best of all, they enhance your reader’s understanding of your blog post.
Readers, do you create your own graphics? What do you think makes a good graphic? Let us know in the comments!