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Infographics are visual representations of information, knowledge or data. While you may be unfamiliar with the term infographic, chances are that you are familiar with infographics themselves.

Needless to say that they are pretty popular these days.

By the end of 2016, the best infographics were doing some impressive things. Video content was bigger than ever before, and animated GIFS danced through nearly every other article.

That’s because infographics are one of the best ways to take painstakingly simple information and transform it into something interesting you would want to share. And we all learned a long time ago that sharing is caring.

The best infographics are complex and visually pleasing.

Competition is stiff to get noticed and you can overcome this with an infographic.

So what qualities make for an appealing, interesting and successful infographic?

They stand out.

First rule of thumb: ditch the template.

It doesn’t matter how inexpensive or simple they are to use. They end up looking like the same infographic that 2,623 other people used and they’re not going to be engaging.

Visitors also won’t share template driven infographics because they’re just not special enough. And without consumer interaction, what’s the point of an infographic?

They’re simple.

You know when you go through those phases of your life where you’re just trying to do too much? Does that usually work out for you? (The answer is “no” if you’re being honest with yourself.)

Infographics are no different.

The trick to achieving the best infographic is to make it visually appealing, while keeping it simple. If too much is going on, the message gets lost.

And don’t overdo it with the crazy statistics and data.

They show creative ingenuity.

There’s got to be some punch. But it should be more like a friendly pop on the forehead versus a wrenching kick to the gut.

That distinction can be hard to figure out at times and it separates the okay infographic from the best infographic.

This applies just as much to the content and message as it does to the design. The combination of these two elements results in either the success or failure of its effectiveness.

They’re just wordy enough.

As we said above, the point of an infographic is to use a visual medium to capture an audience and get some views. Don’t smother it with words.

Yeah, the sad truth is that most people don’t want to have to read. So if there’s too much text they will make like a goldfish and move on to the next shiny object.

The best infographic will stick with the hard hitting factual data and high impact graphics to pop them on the forehead.

They share well.

Good for them! The best infographics obviously graduated from kindergarten with gold stars.

Businesses will spend thousands of dollars on an infographic without sharing capabilities just to post it to their site and then sit back and expect it to do its magic.

If readers can’t share it, it’s not going anywhere on its own. Because even an animated infographic is ultimately an inanimate object.

The best infographics in 2016 followed all of the above rules, then added their own innovations.

Some of the trends for 2016 were:

1. Flat Design

If flat were as popular in environments as it was in the design world for 2016, Iowa would have been a hot bed of social activity.

Yep, flat design was popular across the board. And the best infographics got right on board too.

Infographics with simple 1-3 color schemes, accompanied by simple white or black fonts and minimal shading were popping up all over the big bad internet. And they still are.

Keep things simple and 2D to really capture that flat design.

Flat designs infused infographics with a sleek and professional look that were particularly popular on marketing and tech sites.

2. Animations

Content in motion was the name of the game and the demand for it increased in 2016. Infographic designers responded with animations.

It didn’t seem to much matter if the animations were a central part of how the information was communicated, or whether they were there to inject some light-heartedness into an otherwise static infographic.

Either way, they brought a little more fun to 2016.

3. Anatomy Layouts

Maybe you remember those old anatomy books that had the body’s basic anatomy, and then plastic overlays of each individual system in the body and how they corresponded to different parts of the anatomy.

Infographics work in almost the same way. They are an effective medium for breaking down information into those smaller pieces.

In fact, in 2016, some of the best infographics made use of the anatomy metaphor for breaking down a product or process into parts.

Infographics titled “The Anatomy of [insert topic here]” popped up all over the place in 2016.

4. Interactive Visualizations

2016 stirred up a need for movement, and with that came infographics with interactive charts and graphs, movable timelines, and scrolling functions.

Infographics are getting more intuitive and many designs allowed the user to single out sets of data points.

As a result, interactive infographics were able to include more data than their static counterparts.

5. One-Hook Data Visualization

Though this term sounds like an arcade fishing game, it actually refers to the experience of infographics following a hierarchical layout with one central or “hook” data visualization at the top, and supporting data and smaller data visualizations underneath.

These popular infographics of 2016 followed the inverted pyramid organization of information more like one would see in journalism. They had the most important piece of information at the top and then let the supporting info trickle down as the reader continues reading.

6. Timeline Layouts

We aren’t talking about Facebook. (Though who’s to say whether FB didn’t have some impact on the timeline layout trend for infographics in 2016?)

There’s no denying that 2016 was a big year in entertainment and politics, as well as other areas.

With all of those changes, folks were interested in seeing the events that led up to them. And even though timeline infographics were often interactive, there were many static timeline infographics that went viral too.

So there you have it. Keep in mind that all of the above information may land you the best infographic in terms of design, but you also need to plan for an effective outreach and marketing campaign.

Once people are regularly viewing your content and other sites are sharing your best infographic, you’ll see a pretty cool return on your investment.

What’s your best infographic idea or topic? Share it with us!

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