How to design infographics that go viral

Alright, data enthusiasts and visual virtuosos, buckle up! We’re about to dive headfirst into the wild world of viral infographics. We’re talking about designs so catchy, they spread faster than gossip at a high school reunion.

But first, let me spin you a yarn from the infographic trenches. Picture this: It’s 2015, and I’m tasked with creating an infographic about… wait for it… the history of the garden gnome. (Yes, that’s a thing. No, I don’t know why people need to know about the genealogy of pointy-hatted lawn ornaments, but here we are.) I spent days crafting what I thought was the Mona Lisa of gnome infographics. It had everything – timelines, fun facts, even a little gnome family tree.

The result? It went about as viral as a pet rock with a head cold.

Turns out, not everyone shares my passion for vertically challenged ceramic gardeners. Who knew?

So, how do you create infographics that don’t just sit there like a garden gnome, but actually take off and conquer the internet? Well, grab your favorite caffeinated beverage (or a glass of wine, I don’t judge), and let’s dive into the art and science of crafting infographics that go viral faster than you can say “share this post!”

  1. Start with a Bang: Your Topic is Your Rocket Fuel

First things first, let’s talk about choosing a topic. Your infographic topic is like the fuel in a rocket – choose the right one, and you’ll shoot for the stars. Choose the wrong one, and well… you might end up with a garden gnome history lesson that nobody asked for.

Here’s how to choose a topic that’s more addictive than your aunt’s secret cookie recipe:

  • Ride the trend wave: What’s everyone talking about right now? Cryptocurrency? Climate change? The latest celebrity scandal? Hop on that bandwagon, my friend. It’s like surfing, but with data instead of water.
  • Solve a problem: People love solutions. If your infographic can solve a common problem, you’re golden. It’s like being a superhero, but with graphs instead of a cape.
  • Bust a myth: Everyone loves a good “gotcha” moment. Debunk a popular misconception and watch your infographic spread like wildfire. It’s like being the cool teacher who tells kids that everything they learned in history class was wrong.
  • Tell a story: Humans are hardwired for narratives. If you can turn data into a compelling story, you’re halfway to Viral Town, population: you.

I once created an infographic about the “Top 10 Weirdest Things People Have Tried to Claim on Their Taxes.” It included everything from cat food (for a junkyard cat, apparently) to a wedding (as a business expense for a wedding planner). That baby went viral faster than you can say “IRS audit.” Turns out, people love a good laugh, especially when it involves other people’s questionable financial decisions.

  1. Design for the Scroll: The Attention Span Battle

In the age of TikTok and Twitter, attention spans are shorter than a goldfish’s memory. Your infographic needs to grab eyeballs faster than a caffeinated cat chasing a laser pointer.

Here’s how to design for the scroll generation:

  • Start strong: Your top section should be catchier than a pop song chorus. It needs to make people stop scrolling and think “Ooh, what’s this?”
  • Use a clear hierarchy: Guide the eye down the infographic with a logical flow. It’s like creating a waterslide for eyeballs.
  • Break it up: Use sections, dividers, and white space. It’s like giving your reader’s brain little rest stops on a road trip through Data Land.
  • End with a bang: Your conclusion should be punchier than a heavyweight boxer. Leave ’em with something to remember.

I once designed an infographic about coffee consumption around the world. The top section had a giant coffee cup with steam forming the shape of a globe. People stopped scrolling so fast, I’m pretty sure I heard tires screeching. The lesson? Visual puns are worth their weight in viral gold.

  1. Color Me Intrigued: The Psychology of Color

Colors aren’t just pretty – they’re powerful psychological tools. Use them right, and you can influence emotions, draw attention, and make your data pop like fireworks on the 4th of July.

Here’s how to wield the power of the color palette:

  • Know your color psychology: Blue for trust, red for excitement, green for growth. It’s like being a mood ring, but for your whole infographic.
  • Use contrast wisely: Make important info stand out with contrasting colors. It’s like using a highlighter, but less likely to bleed through the paper.
  • Stay on brand: If you’re creating for a specific company, use their colors. It’s like wearing the team jersey – it shows you’re a true fan.
  • Don’t go overboard: A rainbow might be pretty, but too many colors can be overwhelming. It’s like a flavor explosion in your mouth – exciting at first, but then you just want a glass of water.

I once created an infographic about the psychology of color in marketing. I used each color to illustrate its own section. The blue section about trust was shared by more financial institutions than I could count. Coincidence? I think not.

  1. Font-astic Choices: Typography Matters

Typography in infographics is like the secret sauce in your grandma’s famous recipe – it might not be the star of the show, but get it wrong and the whole thing falls flat.

Here’s how to make your fonts work harder than an intern on coffee duty:

  • Stick to 2-3 fonts max: Any more and your infographic starts looking like a ransom note.
  • Use font hierarchy: Your title, subtitles, and body text should be as easy to distinguish as the Kardashians at a tech convention.
  • Make it legible: If your audience needs a magnifying glass to read your text, you’ve already lost them.
  • Get creative (but not too creative): A unique font can add personality, but if it looks like it was written by a drunk spider, maybe reconsider.

I once created an infographic about the evolution of alphabet soup. I used actual alphabet soup letters for the title. It was a pain to create, but it got shared more times than I could count. Sometimes, a little extra effort in typography can spell the difference between “meh” and “viral.”

  1. Data Visualization: Make Those Numbers Dance!

Data visualization is where the rubber meets the road in infographic design. It’s your chance to turn boring old numbers into visual masterpieces that even your math-phobic friends will appreciate.

Here’s how to make your data visuals more captivating than a cat video:

  • Choose the right chart: Pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs – each has its place. It’s like choosing the right tool from a toolbox. You wouldn’t use a hammer to screw in a lightbulb, would you?
  • Keep it simple: Your visualization should be easier to understand than your grandma’s TV remote.
  • Use icons and illustrations: A little visual flair can make dry data more digestible. It’s like adding sprinkles to your data donut.
  • Make it interactive (if possible): People love to play. If you can make your data clickable or hoverable, you’re golden.

I once created an infographic about pizza consumption in the U.S. I made the pie chart an actual pizza, with different toppings representing different data points. It got shared more times than I’ve had actual pizzas (and trust me, that’s a lot). The lesson? If you can make people hungry and informed at the same time, you’re on to a winner.

  1. Tell a Story: Once Upon a Data Point

Humans are hardwired for stories. We love them more than bees love flowers, more than cats love knocking things off tables, more than… well, you get the idea. Your infographic should tell a story that’s more captivating than your uncle’s fishing tales.

Here’s how to turn your data into a page-turner:

  • Have a clear narrative arc: Beginning, middle, end. It’s like the three-act structure, but with more pie charts.
  • Use a consistent theme: If you’re using a metaphor, stick with it. Don’t start with a space theme and end up underwater. Unless your infographic is about space submarines. In which case, call me, because that sounds awesome.
  • Include characters: People relate to people. Can you personify your data? It’s like creating a cast for your number drama.
  • End with a call to action: What should people do with this information? Give them a next step, like a choose-your-own-adventure book.

I once created an infographic about the “Life Cycle of a Social Media Post.” I personified a tweet as a character going through different stages of life. It got retweeted more times than I could count. Turns out, even data can have a compelling character arc.

  1. Make it Shareable: The Social Media Secret Sauce

Creating a viral infographic is only half the battle. The other half? Making it easier to share than juicy gossip at a family reunion.

Here’s how to make your infographic more shareable than a plate of cookies:

  • Include sharing buttons: Make it easier to share than a communicable disease (too soon?).
  • Create platform-specific versions: What works on Pinterest might not work on LinkedIn. It’s like dressing for different occasions – you wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to a beach party, would you?
  • Add your branding: Make sure people know where this brilliant infographic came from. It’s like signing your masterpiece.
  • Consider making it embeddable: Let people easily add it to their own sites. It’s like letting your infographic go to other people’s parties.

I once created an infographic about “The Anatomy of a Perfect Tweet.” I made sure to include a “Click to Tweet” button for each key point. That infographic spread faster than rumors in a small town. The lesson? Make sharing as easy as possible, and watch your creation take flight.

  1. Optimize for SEO: Because Even Viral Sensations Need a Little Help

SEO might sound about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it’s the secret weapon in your viral arsenal. It’s like giving your infographic a megaphone in the crowded stadium of the internet.

Here’s how to SEO-ify your infographic:

  • Use descriptive file names: “Infographic_final_final_FINAL_v2.jpg” tells Google nothing. “How_to_train_your_dragon_infographic.jpg” tells Google everything.
  • Include alt text: It’s like giving your images closed captions. Good for accessibility, good for SEO.
  • Write a killer meta description: Think of it as your infographic’s elevator pitch.
  • Promote it: Share it on social media, reach out to influencers, maybe even do a little dance. Every little bit helps.

I once created an infographic about “The Most Searched Halloween Costumes.” By optimizing it for SEO, it started showing up in Google Image searches faster than you can say “sexy pumpkin costume.” (Yes, that’s a thing. No, I don’t know why.)

Wrapping It Up (In a Perfectly Designed Bow)

So there you have it, folks – the secret recipe for creating infographics so viral, they’ll need their own vaccine. Let’s recap:

  1. Choose a topic hotter than a habanero pepper
  2. Design for the scroll-happy masses
  3. Use colors that pack a psychological punch
  4. Pick fonts that are easy on the eyes and the brain
  5. Visualize data like you’re the Picasso of pie charts
  6. Tell a story worthy of a Netflix binge-watch
  7. Make it more shareable than a plate of grandma’s cookies
  8. SEO-ify it like your viral dreams depend on it (because they do)

Remember, creating a viral infographic is part science, part art, and part sacrificing a rubber chicken to the internet gods. (Okay, maybe not that last part, but it couldn’t hurt, right?)

Now go forth and create infographics that’ll make the internet sit up and beg for more! And if you ever find yourself needing to make a viral infographic about garden gnomes… well, give me a call. I’ve got some unfinished business in the land of pointy hats and fishing rods.