Infographics are an incredibly popular way to visualize data and a valuable marketing tool. If you need proof of that statement, check out this infographic on infographics. Infographics garner orders of magnitude more social shares than regular blog posts. When I set out to create an infographic for Feastie Analytics on "How to Make Your Recipe go Viral on Pinterest", I took a look at several online tools including visual.ly, infogr.am, Piktochart, and easel.ly. My conclusion: it's exhausting to figure out which one to use, and then learn it. I tried with a few and wasn't blown away with the user interface (too much to learn) or the results (the chart designs didn't thrill me). They all offer themes to work with, but not many. One offered only about six themes unless I paid a monthly subscription fee. It doesn't make sense to pay a monthly subscription for something I only use occasionally. Plus, having limited themes that dozens of other infographics are based on, and the tool's logo at the bottom could dilute my branding and thus marketing effect. On top of all that, I was afraid that I would get started, invest the time, and then realize I can't finish because an essential feature is missing.
Then I realized I already had the perfect tool for creating an infographic. It has a drag and drop interface that I already know, the ability to add any icons or photos, basic drawing tools and visual effects, alignment tools, and most importantly, chart building tools all built in. It's Keynote. Keynote may not be intended to create the types of infographics that are popular on the web, but when you think about it, a slide presentation is a lot like an infographic. By creating a one slide presentation with custom dimensions, you can easily use it to create great infographics for the web. Here are the steps I used to build mine:
- Set a custom slide size. From the inspector, go to the 'Document' tab and under 'Slide Size', choose 'Custom Size', then enter your dimensions. I made mine 640px wide because that's the width of my blog post template and 4000px long because that's the maximum length allowed by Keynote. Note that if you change the dimensions after adding objects to the slide, Keynote will rearrange your stuff in a failed attempt to be helpful. I recommend using the maximum length allowed. You can always crop any excess out later.
- Design a "theme". Visual style and pieces of flair are what separate an infographic from just a boring old set of charts. Choose an interesting background and some kind of visual element that separates the sections of the infographic. These visual elements should reflect your subject matter. I used a stock photo of a corkboard as my background. Then I created rectangles using the Keynote shape tool and the picture frame effect to look like sheets of paper with shadows. Finally, I used another stock photo of a pushpin to create the illusion that the papers had been pinned to a pinboard. Cut, paste, repeat.
- Fill in your sections. Import various graphics and use the built in Keynote chart tools to your heart's content. Customize the look of your charts with colors and textures that fit in nicely with your theme. A note of warning: the funky dimensions of your slide will confuse Keynote, causing it to create awkwardly sized charts. It helps to have another Keynote presentation open as a scratch space to create your charts and copy them over to your infographic. Another tip: make the type and visuals large so that the infographic is still readable when it's posted on Pinterest. The new width for Pinterest pins is around 240px so you'll want your infographic to work at about 40% of it's original size if you choose the same dimensions that I did. Don't forget to include a section that includes your name or the name of your company and the url of your website.
- Export as an image. From the file menu, choose 'Export', then click on 'Images'. I recommend using a PNG to avoid funky JPEG artifacts.
- Crop it. If you had excess space at the bottom of your you'll need to crop that out using an image editing tool such as GIMP. While you're at it, you may want to create a "title only" image to include above the fold in your blog post.
You're done! Now you have a great infographic to share on your blog and across all social media channels and you didn't have to learn any awkward new tools to create it.