We’ve all seen infographics that conveyed information adequately. Sometimes, though, an infographic goes above and beyond, getting attention as not just a means of presenting information, but as an art form in itself.


We saw one such infographic last month, when rental website ApartmentList created an infographic breaking down your next roommate depending on which Chicago neighborhood you’d like to live in. From the catchphrase of the Wrigleyville-ian (Hey! Bro! Do you have a shotski?) to the paint (or condiment?) splattered T-shirt of the Logan Square resident, this infographic was pretty dead on. And it still manages to convey the average monthly prices for 1 and 2 bedroom apartments in 20 neighborhoods!


We think they did an amazing (and hilarious) job, and that got us thinking. What are the characteristics of a truly superlative infographic?


Screen Shot 2014-06-20 typical Chicago roommates


There were the 5 that stood out to us:


1. Data


Summarizing data is the very basis of an infographic, and as such, should be honored. An infographic light in this department starts off on the wrong foot and has to be much stronger in all other areas in order to succeed.


2. Novelty


Tackling a new subject is also crucial to the success of your infographic. Even if you don’t get to choose what information you need to represent, at least make an effort to present an old subject in a fresh, new way.


3. Artwork


An infographic without good artwork leans more toward chart/flowchart territory, and believe us, those aren’t nearly as fun. They also usually don’t have the same meme potential. So, don’t skimp on the quality artwork, and realize that sometimes this is the most time-consuming aspect of the whole project. Just keep reminding yourself: it is also the one that will set your infographic apart.


4. Humor / Whimsy


Strictly speaking, this isn’t 100% necessary for a successful infographic, but when we polled our office, no one could think of a memorable infographic without this attribute. So, remember to keep some of the fun in this unique medium, whether graphically or textually.


5. Effort


While blog posts tend to be forgiving in terms of the quality of the content, it’s very easy to spot an infographic that was done for the sake of just having one. That’s why our policy is: if you can’t spend the time to make your infographic great, don’t waste your time on a mediocre one. Brainstorming angles, collecting the data, writing the content, and creating the artwork all take time. If you don’t have it, pick a different medium.

That about does it. Next time you see an infographic you really like, run through our list. We bet it will have all 5 of the above characteristics. And, if you’re want to look at some of the other best infographics of 2014, go right ahead, but be careful. Inspiration may ensue.
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