Picture this: You want to provide prospective customers with a piece of content that simplifies a complicated subject. You have a specific audience in mind and reams of data to back up what you’re saying. All that’s missing is the right format.

Blog post? Too boring. Whitepaper? Too formal.

Enter: the infographic.

“Infographics are a really compelling way to share data-driven concepts or complex topics and distill them in a really clean, digestible format,” said Brafton Account Director Colleen Saville. “They convey information quickly and simply to an audience. With the internet being saturated with so much content, having a visual that stands out and resonates with your audience gives you a better chance to reach people. There’s still a place for copy, but visuals are only going to become more important.”

Don’t take her word for it – Brafton Design Director Ken Boostrom agrees. One Brafton client generated more than 700 leads from a single infographic. The asset was responsible for 34 percent of website conversions. Another client saw organic traffic increase more than 50 percent year-over-year and received 181 percent more inbound links after incorporating infographics into its strategy.

“Articles with images are viewed more than those without,” said Ken. “That’s just a fact. Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. A picture really is worth a thousand words.”

That said, throwing data and imagery together is no guarantee of success. Neither is googling “how to make an infographic.” To see true return on investment, take our 10 tips for infographic design to heart:

10 tips to create better infographics

1. Define and aim for a target

No matter the content, zeroing in on your target audience is essential. Before you can start debating color palettes, you must ensure your infographic will appeal to established buyer personas. Your audience, and their place in the sales funnel, will impact everything from language to art style.

2. Find a hot topic

Not just any topic will get people talking. Consider what your targeted audience cares about. What are the pain points? What keeps them up at night? Researching keywords and analyzing trending stories in your industry can help you select an infographic topic that resonates.

3. Stay focused

It’s all too easy to bite off more than you can chew with an infographic. Instead of getting bogged down trying to tell a big story, opt for highly focused messaging.

“Stick to one compelling idea and hammer it home,” Ken said.

4. Apply a theme

Settling on a theme for your infographic can create a more cohesive asset. From nautical imagery to outer space designs, consider how different themes may align with your messaging and capture audience attention. And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box!

5. Tone down the text

Too much text is a millstone around your infographic’s neck, weighing down an asset where visuals are meant to be the star.

“It’s the single biggest problem I’ve seen clients run into,” Colleen said. “Infographics are about relying on visuals over words. If something has to be text-heavy, go for a white paper or blog.”

6. Keep it simple

Try not to get bogged down in industry jargon or confusing concepts. Do your best to make the text you use simple and straightforward. Short, punchy sentences and bullet points are your best bet. You can always diver deeper in an accompanying blog post, after all.

7. Work with your creative team

It may seem simple, but too often creative contributors are siloed during the infographic production process. Make sure writers, designers and other team members are working in concert with the same goals in mind.

8. Remember that size matters

You may have tons of information to share and lots of things to illustrate, but infographics are meant to be succinct. Trim the fat to keep your content lean, mean and ready to impress.

“No one’s fingers should get tired from scrolling down to view your graphic,” Ken said. “Make sure the number of data points you use translates to a manageable length.”

9. Look out for legibility

White space is your friend. You may want to cover every inch of your infographic with stunning visuals, but your content needs room to breathe.

Padding around text and images frames both better, allowing the human eye to focus more efficiently and better absorb your messaging. Meaningful should always win out over messy.

10. Don’t just talk about yourself

Promotion should only come after the infographic’s creation.

“Some businesses think an infographic should be used as a sell sheet,” Colleen said. “While that can be done, it’s not what an infographic is for.”

Focus on showing why people should care about your brand, not telling.

Spread the word

If an infographic falls in a forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Once you’ve created your masterpiece, it’s time to show it off to the world. Social media provides an excellent platform for quickly engaging your targeted audience and encouraging people to share it with others. After all, data shows infographics are liked and shared three times more often on social media than other types of content.

Remember to make it easy for others to share your infographic. Ensure a share button is included and highlighted wherever your asset lives. Whether your goal is lead generation, brand awareness, thought leadership or something else entirely, the more eyes checking out your art, the better.

Eric Wendt is a writer and editor at Brafton. He discovered his love of words after realizing he was terrible at math. If he's not updating his Tumblr with poetry he's too embarrassed to share, there's a good chance he's out in search of the perfect pale ale.