What I’ve written below is not intended to be a set of rules for making and using infographics for our work, but rather a reflection of my own experience and my own thoughts on this subject. It’s intended to help others explore and think about what they can do in this sense, to help their clients. It’s also intended to help your own creativity to flow and create some wonderful tools! I feel it would be important to read this first to get a feel for how I work with infographics before you look at examples.
Why use/make infographics for our work?
I’m not sure about you, (I’ve come across many colleagues who don’t use them), but I find doing my work without them, working with a 21st centruy young audience which has grown up on a diet of images, nigh on impossible. It keeps the young people I work with engaged and it fulfils a range of other functions, even when working with adults, and especially while working with those within the SEND group.
What are they?
I feel that sometimes, images tell a client so much more in the time we have available than a lot of text or explaining without infographics does. Generally, I would say infographics are sources of information where:
- images are more prominent than text – otherwise it would be just a text document or an illustrated article.
- they help us cater for different learning styles. A visual client will especially benefit from them and they will hopefully stick in their mind.
- they are, or can be fairly similar to a good PowerPoint slide – You can apply the same rules.
- they attempt to explain more complex content without using words – an image says more than 100 words.
What are they for? Or what functions can they perform?
- Infographics first of all summarise. They make it easy to get to grips with concepts and information. This doesn’t mean that they don’t need explanation, however. In that sense they can be a tool to help explain something. The education system grid I use with clients is not something I hand out, but it’s a tool to help explain, explore and visualise options for the client.
- In that sense, they help with day to day interviewing. Very often these days, we only have limited time with a client and we need to explore with the client in a concise and effective way that functions for the client. The way I work with this is that, over the years, I have kept a list of career options clients most often want to talk about and I have made a flowchart for each one of these, which I make sure I keep up to date. I also use general planning tools such a flowchart that summarises the two main ways of planning to help clients visualise where they fit in, with discussion between us of course.
- They can also help us come to grips with our practice. In the career theory section on this website especially, you can see many infographics I have put together to get my own head around a theory but also to help summarise it for any level 6 candidates I work with. Some of these can also be used with clients as an ‘aide memoire’ for a specific technique, especially for those career professionals who have just started out in their career.
- I have found them crucial in supporting people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). Whenever I work with someone who struggles getting to grips with the education system, for instance, I explore what their specific difficulties are and I adapt one of the tools to fit in with those and offer a copy for them to take home. In that sense, the exploration part is crucial so they don’t take information home they can or will misinterpret.
- Within the group of clients with SEND there are those clients with a visual disability who could benefit from a summary of information in the form of an infographic. Of course, in that case you will need to adapt this to their needs. See below for further information on how I work whith these clients in this sense.
- I also use infographics as a symbolising tool, literally, to help clients with a certain skill, activity or action. An example is the interviewing tool I have developed that can be used to mimic the relative unpredictability of questioning in a job interview for clients who haven’t been to one yet.
What I have found important and what I always take into consideration when thinking about and making something new is:
- Minimise text – Text is often unavoidable but whenever I make something if it includes text, I look at it again, and again, each time summarising more and more.
- Use simple language and a typeface that’s easy to read, especially if it’s something for a client to take away (which in my case rarely happens). Sometimes, company colour schemes may make this more challenging however.
- Write slogans – even if they aren’t bullet points, I apply the same rules: one line maximum if I can get away with it… and I try hard to do so. Again, especially when a client takes away what you have made, it’s important to strike a balance between brevity of the text and clarity of the message. Sometimes I find it impossible to stick to one line.
- Use simple drawings. It doesn’t need to be lifelike. Use icons rather than extensive drawings. Drawings need to symbolise rather than be realistic. This is especially important to take into account in view of the different abilities clients have. In this sense, think especially carefully about those with Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism. There is a chance that if you draw a figure, all they see is a jumble of lines and circles.
- Make sure the layout is logical and clear.
- Make it pleasing to look at if you can. This is very much linked to skills you and I have of course. My drawing skills are distinctly lacking!
I realise the irony of this page about infographics containing a lot of text, so lets have a look at some examples I’ve made…