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Infographics: Turning Information Into Compelling Stories

Infographics: Turning Information Into Compelling Stories

By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an infographic is worth even more. It conveys complex information broken down into simplified, arresting visual bytes.
 
Small businesses use Infographics as substitutes for pages of data. Their ability to tell a story in pictures keeps the attention of readers. That’s why they’re being used increasingly for marketing purposes, social media and internal presentations.
 
Within the last decade they have become an increasing trend. In fact, from 2010 to 2012, infographic search volumes increased a dramatically 800%. Infographics can be used to easily reinforce your brand, simply because they are so visually appealing and easier to remember.
 
You can pay upwards of $1,000 to have a customized infographic designed. It may be wise to spend some money when the final product must be perfect. But with today’s free (or freemium) design tools, using their pre-set templates and easy data input, anyone can create eye catching Infographics.
 
Here are six online tools to get you started.
 
Piktochart.com
One of the most popular drag and drop Infographics tools. There are several dozen free themes available. You customize by adding text and moving images around.
 
Piktochart owns more than 1000 graphics. Most are higher resolution for crisp results. You can share the finished result via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ with just a click or two. Moreover, your output/exports are now search-engine friendly.
 
Fee-based versions of Piktochart give you access to over 100 professional themes which you can brand yourself. Fees are as low as $14/mth on a yearly plan. There are also nonprofit and education discounts offered.
 
One unique feature is that you can also publish your infographic as HTML (on a magic.piktochart.com URL), or embed the HTML in your own website if you are a Pro user. Normally infographics are output as .jpg, .png or .pdf files.
 
Easel.ly
With this free tool, users have created over 400,000 public visuals. Easel.ly uses visual themes which can be modified using basic drag and drop controls on your canvass.
 
The site’s homepage shows 15 ready-made infographic templates. Choose one and start adding objects, such as figures of people at work and play. Select an appropriate background colour. Insert shapes and text to better get your ideas across. You can also upload your own image files if you have them.
 
ewcPresenter.com
Is simplicity important to you? ewcPresenter is an application that lets you create and publish infographics with content that is interactive – without ever knowing a single line of code.
 
There are 10 templates to get you going. This tool is a media lover’s delight: you can pop in animation, music,video, Eye Candy and widgets to round out your look. The finished file is based on HTML5 so it generates web and mobile friendly content. Packages are available on a monthly basis, as part of the easywebcontent.com suite of products.
 
infogr.am
If you use a lot of data in your presentations, you will benefit from a tool like infogr.am. It has a built-in spreadsheet for easy data editing. You can inster data points manuall or import your XLS, XLSX and CSV file to save time.

 There are more than 30 chart types to illustrate your numbers. They range from bubble charts and tree maps to simple pie charts. You add these as separate elements to your infographic. Or create the entire infographic based on the data you’ve input.

 
When you’re done, save the file to your computer as PNG or PDF. Share with your followers in social networks. Or simply embed it in your blog post or news article. Sensitive data? Set a password or share your infographic with a private link.
 
QuestionPro.com
As market researchers know, survey results are the perfect subject for infographics You can insert data points manually or import your XLS, XLSX and CSV file to save time.
The data comes to life when it is shown visually!

QuestionPro is more than an infographics creator. It’s actually a survey and poll tool that renders results into vibrant infographics. Create surveys & polls in minutes. There’s an extensive editable survey library to make things easier.

 
Part of their offering is real-time reports and data tools. The free version gives you unlimited surveys, with up to 100 responses per poll. Upgrade plans start at $15/mth. For that you also get questionnaire branching and skip logic, theme & branding customization, 24+ question types, data export (Excel, CSV), and more.
 
Be Picture Perfect
Now you have no excuse to avoid the infographics craze. No need for a crash course in design to produce attractive output. Drag and drop technology makes it simple and quick.
 
For everyday use, the five tools described above should give satisfactory results. Upgrade to paid plans when you need to create a more robust infographic. And for those really important occasions, consider hiring a professional designer for the ultimate in unique, fully tailored graphics.