Gone are the days of boring pie charts and bar graphs. Infographics are bringing a new level of creativity to the visual data game. And luckily, you don’t need to be a designer to make a good one. Plenty of sites, such as visual.ly, infogr.am, and easel.ly let you use their free templates and tools to make eye-catching infographics. If you do want to create your own, however, you’ll need to keep some basic tips in mind to make it the best it can be. Below is one of our favorite new infographics, as well as a list of pointers for creating an awesome infographic and advice for beginners who aren’t sure know where to start.

Source: Selling Social: How Companies Are Connecting with Social Media

Designing Your Infographic

Have a Plan

This tip isn’t design-focused, but it will have a huge influence on your design. Before you even reach that part of the process, you should sit down and think about what you want the infographic to say. Once you’ve nailed that down, outline your main points, and then move on to the visual aspects.

Simple Design

You don’t want your infographic to overwhelm. Keep the design simple, with no more than four colors, an easily readable font, and short text descriptions. Many infographics break these rules by cramming in too much text information and too many pictures. These bad examples miss the whole point of infographics—to present information that you can clearly and quickly understand. The infographic also shouldn’t be too long. KISSMetrics suggests a limit of 8,000 pixels and 1.5 MB.

Don’t Use Too Much White Space

In one of the most meta blog posts ever, HubSpot uses infographics explaining how to make infographics. They give us this useful tip: Do not use too much white space. Doing so may interrupt the flow of the infographic. Strike a balance between filling the space and leaving it empty so that your infographic packs the most effective punch.

Choose the Right Colors

Color is another important thing to think about. You want to make sure it’s easy on the eyes. As Amy Balliett of Smashing Magazine says, that rules out a black infographic with neon colors. If you’re wondering how many colors to use, HubSpot suggests a cap of four, but you can certainly make effective infographics with fewer.  If you work so long on your infographic that you can’t judge how effective it is, have another person look at it and see if they find it visually appealing.

Choose a Good Font

Don’t let the presentation of the content get in the way of the content itself. There’s a reason why today’s default font on Microsoft Word is the clean and professional Calibri, instead of the nice-looking but hard-to-read Lucinda Calligraphy. If your message is hard to decipher because of the font, the chances that readers will take the time to read the entire infographic are very small.

Use Quality Images

The visual magic of your infographic depends on quality images. Don’t make a point with a pixelated image, unless you’re for some reason making an infographic about pixelated images.

Getting Started

“This is all well and good for people who know what they want their infographic to say,” you may be saying. “But what if I have no idea?” One place to start is to provide information that contextualizes your product. For example, you could create an infographic explaining how your product is used, who uses it, and where. Or one explaining the industry trends driving the market. Or one that explains the pros and cons of different services.

But the infographic doesn’t even have to be about the industry; you can add a splash to your “Our Team” pages and make an infographic about your company, touting statistics such as “75% of our office prefers Krispy Kreme donuts” or other interesting facts. A lighthearted infographic like this might be a good place to start. Making an experimental first attempt will let you get familiar with the process of making an infographic and put you in a good place to tackle your next one.

Once you’ve created an infographic that you want the world to see, you’ll have to let the world know that your infographic exists. Share the infographic on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, of course, but be sure to include visual-based sites such as Pinterest. If your fans share your infographic, you may find yourself with some new followers wanting your expertise.

Infographics are an excellent way to present information, but in order for them to be effective, you have to know what works and what doesn’t. Keep your design simple, use it to educate and inform, and share it on your social media platforms. When your infographic is created and shared strategically, it can grab attention from the right people and cement your image as an industry thought leader.