Infographics are a lot more than pictures and words. A good infographic delivers a strong message, intentionally crafted and communicated in everything from the copy and story to the format and design. Unfortunately, a lot of people claim to “do” infographics, but only an expert infographic design company really does them well.

If you’re looking for the right partner to help you create content, it’s important to work with someone who has the demonstrated knowledge and experience to produce truly great infographics.

How to Vet Your Infographic Design Company

As you start your search for an infographic design company, we thought we’d give you a few useful questions to ask to help you determine whether or not they can deliver what you need.

1) Are they data literate?

Infographics are great because they give you the chance to visualize information, and using infographics to tell strong data stories is especially advantageous. But to successfully tell those stories, you need an infographic design company that is fully data literate. That doesn’t just mean they know how to design charts; it means they know the ins and outs of data: where to get credible sources, how to dig into data, how to craft a narrative, etc.

2) Do they follow data visualization best practices?

Charts and graphs are easy to churn out, but artful data visualization is a whole other ballgame. Effective data visualization design requires more than simple charts and graphs. It’s about following best practices and intimately understanding both the data and how to best present it for maximum impact.

Does your infographic design company know how many slices should be in a pie chart? The most intuitive way to order data? The proper space between two bars in a bar chart? These are the nitty gritty details that will greatly improve the way people view your data.

3) Does their portfolio demonstrate variety?

You want an infographic design company to create cohesive work that follows your brand guidelines, but you want them to demonstrate creativity. Infographics are more versatile than ever, both in format (static or animated) and design style (line art, photography, etc.). It’s up to the experts to determine the best style for your story. But if your potential partner seems to have developed a homogeneous look (sometimes dubbed a “signature style”), it’s unlikely your stuff will stand out.

4) Do they have an established process?

Depending on your story, publishing cycle, or volume, you may be churning out infographics pretty quickly. The only way to do that successfully is with a solid production process. Any infographic design company you work with should have a well-oiled process and a pro team on hand to account for your needs (whether that’s stage-by-stage review or multiple edit rounds). If “anything goes,” you’re probably looking at a few missed deadlines and a lot of frustration.

5) Can they tell a strong story?

Story is the basis of a truly strong infographic—no matter how much data you have. If their portfolio is littered with infographics that are pure fluff, obnoxiously long, overly dense, or cluttered, then story may not be their forté.

6) Do they demonstrate their knowledge?

An infographic design company that really knows their stuff should share their expertise in some capacity. They might have a blog, contribute to an industry publication, or feature award-winning designs in their portfolio. At the very least, they should be able (and excited) to share their infographic philosophy, run down their best tips and tricks, call out their biggest pet peeves, and give you a sense of what trends are over and what trends they’re excited about in the infographic world.

7) Do they only do infographics?

You might think you want an infographic, but you might actually need something different. Again, infographics are all about delivering a compelling story of value. A good infographic design company knows what type of format will best serve your story, whether it’s an infographic, interactive infographic, or a video. They should be able to guide you, challenge you, and give you the content solution that works for your goal. They should also be able to help you produce that type of content.

8) How do they measure results?

No infographic design company should take on a project unless they know what the goal is and how they are going to measure success. (You shouldn’t embark on one unless you know these either.) They should be able to explain the metrics they use to track success and offer you tips on what you might do to improve success.

9) What’s one of their favorite pieces?

In addition to knowledge, skill, and expertise, you want to gauge how passionate your potential partner is. Asking them about one of their most successful projects should give you a sense of their creative process, problem-solving skills, client approach, and, most importantly, their level of investment in the work.

10) Do they have tips to help you get more mileage from your work?

An infographic’s value isn’t necessarily done once you hit publish. When you spend a lot of time on energy on something, you want to get the most from it. A good infographic design company should offer tips on how to reuse, repurpose, and remix your infographic to give it more legs.

Educate Yourself While You’re Searching

A good infographic design company is a creative partner, not a gun for hire. That means you should be an active collaborator, no matter what you’re working on. One of the best ways you can be a better partner is to educate yourself, come to the table with ideas, and learn how to improve your own infographic process.