Researchers say that people’s attention span is a pitiful eight seconds — supposedly less than that of a goldfish. (Do you wonder, as I do, how researchers measure a goldfish’s attention span?) So it’s not surprising that marketers are looking for fast ways to grab eyeballs.Short attention span goldfish

Increasingly, infographics are the answer. As IABC members pointed out during a recent Twitter chat, visual communications like infographics:

  • Help readers understand and remember
  • Get your message out faster
  • Help tell a story
  • Overcome information overload
  • Help capture attention
  • Break up content
  • Explain complicated situations or ideas and put them in context
  • Make content more engaging
  • Are easy to share.

One site that offers a way to create infographics is, which says:

“Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. Infographics makes it easier to grab your viewer before the next distraction does.”

Having worked on a number of infographics recently and researched best practices, I’ve found these steps to creating an effective infographic:

1.  Figure out the point you want to make and start there.
You might want to break down a complicated process, show trends, tell a story, show a timeline or compare two things or situations. Figure out the content, and then how to best showcase it.

2.  Find the story.
Don’t just run loads of statistics. Highlight trends or call out what they mean. Social Media Today’s Great Big List of Infographic Ideas has suggestions for ways to both brainstorm and showcase content.

3.  Don’t make readers work too hard (you know they won’t).
Lead readers through your infographic with different colours, shapes, sizes, fonts and sections.

4.  Decide what you want to be: Useful or entertaining or both.
Is it a guide, a checklist, a workflow or just a “did you know?” All are fine. An example of entertaining and useful is HubSpot’s amusing decision tree that also encourages using alternatives to an exclamation mark.

5.  Don’t crowd in so many details that the infographic scrolls on forever.
It’s supposed to be a quick snapshot; remember the eight seconds? If you have that much detail, break it into several pieces.

6.  Similarly, don’t put so much white space that it spreads the information too far apart.
Too much space and you lose the story, and the infographic will scroll on and on.

7.  If you cite statistics, include the source websites at the bottom for credibility.
Don’t just pull numbers out of the air; credit the source.

Plenty of sites offer help to create your own infographic – for example,, Canva, PowerPoint – but think about how much time it’s going to take you to create something, and whether it will give a professional impression. If you aren’t sure, talk to a graphic designer.

Have you used infographics? Have you found them effective? What other tips would you suggest? Please share in the comments.

Image: Goldfish by Phiseksit and

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Fun facts about Christmas trees (infographic)