5 steps to health infographic greatness

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As communicators in health, we are often asked to translate complex information into something that will resonate with patients, media, staff, and/or policy makers.

Depending on the subject, infographics can be a very useful tool to help hospitals and health organizations visualize their content and translate complex information into something digestible for a lay audience.

Here are five steps to health infographic greatness:

Make a plan: As in all communications, diagnose first, prescribe second. If you start off thinking an infographic is the best way to communicate an idea, the likelihood is, you’ll end up with an infographic. Think about what you are trying to achieve; infographics may be a good choice but a webcast, a Twitter Q&A or a Google Hangout may be better. Set objectives and make whatever tool you’re using part of a larger plan. And remember, the strategy to circulate the infographic is just as important than the infographic itself.

Create a story arc: Every infographic should tell a story and have a call to action. What message do you want your audience to come away with? Start with that and work backwards. Write a story outline that begins with the issue and ends by asking viewers to do something: support a cause, visit a website, call a politician. Something.

Fact check: Comprehensive content research for health infographics is almost always required. This may be a combination of interviewing content experts and sourcing information via social media, websites and scientific journals. After an initial round of research and interviews, send a text version of the infographic to your content expert before starting design. This way you ensure the designer’s time is best used for design elements and not text changes. After design, send the infographic back to the content expert to double-check accuracy.

Spend some money: It’s not easy to communicate a message through a mixture of text, images and data. In health we have added challenges of acronyms, industry jargon and complex ideas. Finding the right mix can be difficult. Use your communications skills alongside those of a professional graphic designer to ensure the infographic has a crystal clear message, is visually engaging and created in a size and format that will work for spreading your message online. If you have a great in-house designer, bonus! If not, spend some money to get it done right.

Track and measure: Many hospital health organizations have rigid and sometimes dated web structures. Spend some time in the beginning to figure out the most appropriate place to host the infographic. Should it be hosted in the news section of your website? The intranet? Pinterest? Every organization will be different and determining this early on will help you track the success. Use analytics to determine which of your promotion techniques were most successful and adjust accordingly the next time.

Infographics are one of many tools in a health communicator’s tool kit. The most shared infographics are often tied to an integrated marketing or communications campaign. So, the next time you are launching a communications initiative, consider an infographic to support your goals.

These infographics followed these five tips and are part of a larger campaign called “Change the Labels” which strives to reduce stigma against people living with mental health challenges in Vancouver, Canada.

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