Whether it’s an explanatory on solar panels or the farm-to-cup process for making your favorite coffee, infographics compress a world of information into a simple, digestible format. But designing an infographic that successfully communicates a lot of information in a simple visual format requires more than a quick idea and template. Fortunately, there is one design element that all the best infographics have in common, and it can help you create a professional infographic that conveys your point of view and looks good doing it. Icons are the secret tool that designers use to move the gaze from one point to another so that all that information reaches you in the correct order. Icons form the secret language of infographics, and once you learn to speak it, yours will be more effective and (hopefully) widely shared by your audience.
Why do you need infographic icons?
Infographics can be a great source of information when presenting a complex topic to an unfamiliar audience. People love to share them because they can communicate a wealth of information in an elegant and easy-to-digest format. However, it’s easy to create an infographic that is overwhelming or just fails. Icons streamline the infographic creation process and ensure that you effectively communicate the information you need to share. Infographic icons give structure to your infographic and can be used to highlight key information. They can also efficiently explain what happens at important moments in the process without relying on words. You have a limited amount of space in an infographic, and icons help you say more with fewer words.
6 reasons to use icons in an infographic
1. They help your audience focus.
A good infographic is a feast for the eyes, and your readers might have trouble focusing on just one part at a time. Icons provide a much-needed sense of structure to your infographic information and create a guided experience for the viewer. The good placement of the icons makes navigating your infographic a more intuitive experience for your audience. In the extract of a Infographic Journal infographic Covering the entire history of the coin from 9000 BC to the present, the author uses icons to mark key events and add interest to what could easily have been a boring timeline. Small (but important) arrow icons along the timeline also keep the reader moving in the right direction.
2. They make the words you use count more.
Do you want your text to stand out in your infographic? Try pairing it with an icon. It’s easy for your words to get lost in the images in your infographic. Icons can draw attention to specific words or graphics, and help the viewer come up with clearer and more memorable conclusions. They can also tell the reader what to expect from each section, allowing them to focus on the topics that interest them first. In this excerpt from an infographic from Futurism.comComplex concepts (which might have required a lot of text to explain) are accompanied by custom icons that help reinforce the headings of each section with fewer words. You may not immediately know what “ingestible robots” means, but when you see the image of the robot emerging from a pill capsule, you will understand it better immediately.
3. They facilitate the understanding of the data.
Graphics displaying complex information can be difficult for many people to understand at first, but a simple icon can help your audience understand the data you present and why they care. For complex graphics, multiple icons can break down individual sections and allow the audience to get more value from them, increasing the likelihood that they will share them with their networks. You can also use icons to represent quantities on a graph instead of raw numbers to make them easier for your audience to understand. In this screenshot taken from a infographic from USC Marshall School of Business, the icons are used to convey data instead of a more traditional chart:
4. They can help you say more with less.
Icons are an ideal medium for telling a simple story that touches on the main topic of your infographic. This can form a unifying message that allows your target audience to connect with the information presented. The data in your infographic tells a story and the icons can show it to your audience right away. From cave paintings to fire exit signs, icons can be used to create powerful and engaging stories in the simplest of forms. You can get an idea of how icons can effectively communicate complex pieces of information in the exception of a USC Rossier infographic on the science of classroom design. Describing each of these classroom formats would have been cumbersome and required a lot of text, but with icons, a lot of information can be condensed into a simple image.
5. Take advantage of shared meanings.
The great thing about icons is that they often mean the same thing in all the contexts in which they are used. This allows you to introduce meaning into your infographic without having to explain it to your audience directly (and take up valuable space in your design). Ultimately, this makes your infographic more accessible and easier for your audience to understand. In the infographic excerpt of Daily infographic The designer then makes excellent use of two instantly recognizable symbols, money and people, to explain the evolution of crowdfunding.
6. They contribute to the personality and voice of your brand.
The icons you choose can add personality to your infographic and are a great opportunity to showcase your brand. What do cute, fun, or hand-drawn icons say about your brand or the information you’re providing? What about the sleek and polished ones? The aesthetic you choose for your icons is as important as any other data you choose to include in our infographic. In the following example of Awesome, a company that specializes in printing and design, it makes sense that the creator would choose to use a clean and consistent icon aesthetic that fits perfectly with their branding. website.
The best free (and almost free) resources for infographic icons
There is a wide variety of free and near free fonts for icons and infographic elements online. Here we list some of them for your next project.
Looking for free vector icons created by a wide variety of designers? Flaticon is a great place to start your search. With 3,641,000 (and growing) free vector icons available on the site, this site is a solid choice if you have a specific design in mind and a limited budget.
If you are looking for a more careful selection of options, Icons8 offers free icons designed entirely by a single team. This is a great option if you plan to create a series of infographics and want a consistent look between all of them, regardless of theme.
Noun Project believes that icons help create an important global language, and its unique (and extensive) collection includes more specific options; we’re talking about everything from icons representing abstract concepts of artificial intelligence to Beyoncé, which you probably won’t find anywhere else. In the net.
If you’ve ever searched the web for free fonts, you’ve probably come across DaFont, but did you know they have a solid selection of icons, too? If you prefer to use icons in custom font format rather than downloading them as images, DaFont is a good free option.
Most of the Iconshock library is free to use for non-commercial purposes. If your infographic is for business use, you’ll pay a one-time fee for most of the icons here, which is a cheap option if you’re still testing infographics as a marketing strategy.
Iconfinder offers a good balance of extensive options with a selection of experts, which is a bonus if you aren’t interested in sifting through hundreds of pages to find icons that suit your ideal aesthetic. Most of the icons featured here are available for free for personal use, while pricing plans are available if you plan to use any of the icons commercially.
Behance is a platform where designers around the world can showcase and sell their design work and connect with potential clients, but many generous designers also offer some design perks for free. If you’re willing to spend some time searching, there are certainly some hidden gems on Behance worth looking for.
Icons shape your infographic.
Icons are vital tools that can add meaning and structure to your infographic while allowing for greater economy of words in your overall design. They can help orient the viewer to the information and provide clues that indicate the flow of the infographic. Even if your viewer is unfamiliar with the information in your infographic, icons with widely recognized meaning can help improve their understanding of it. Ultimately, the icons you choose for your infographic and the way you use them can improve their overall usefulness to your viewer.