For every wonderful, interesting, and surprising infographic which is rewarded with overwhelming virality there are a zillion which are frankly awful and don’t even get passed around by the designer’s own cousin. Avoid these top Don’ts like the plague and you’ll be on the way to creating great infographics that people will actually understand and enthusiastically share. But then again, some infographic designers will actually use these top 7 Don’ts as their manifesto of everything that’s a Do when it comes to creating their layouts, as they’re beyond all hope.

  1. Be sales-focused. If all you’re doing in your infographic is to pitch your own products and services, you’ll be rewarded with a wide social media yawn. An infographic is social media in a nutshell, you have to inform and entertain and then just hope that the punters will actually buy something. The best infographics provide information in an aesthetically interesting manner that is related to your topic as they never pitch snake oil!
  2. Create Lost-clones. We all remember Lost as the series which required a guidebook, a PhD, and a lid of acid to follow… and even then nobody really could figure out the ending. You’d be surprised how many infographic designers pattern their work after Lost and end up Losing their audience. Keeping your infographic simple and focused on one key image or concept is going to allow your viewer to actually understand what you’re trying to get across!
  3. Make a billboard. Some infographics can’t easily be viewed on 30 inch professional computer monitors so what chance does the 4 inch smartphone screen have? Keep your infographic as narrow as possible to avoid horizontal scrolling on the smaller screens and don’t turn it into a telephone pole: If your infographic is pushing the 7,000 pixel mark you’re way off base and it’s time to prune it down to a more reasonable size.
  4. Use Comic Sans. …or just about any other fancy font like an Old English or Engraver’s typestyle which is impossible to read. Learn to love Helvetica and its offshoots as sans serif fonts rule when it comes to providing a clean, clear, readable look in your infographic. Even though you’re in the sans serif world you still have to edit yourself and if you find that you’re exceeding two styles per infographic, it’s time to cut back.
  5. Cram 20 lbs. into a 5 lb. bag. Two simple words should mark your infographic design philosophy: White Space. There are some infographic designers out there who believe that filling every single pixel of their canvas with labels, arrows, and other crammed graphic elements make for a great infographic, while instead the whole thing ends up looking like a flowchart from Hades. Air out your layouts and provide your viewer with a mere handful of clear, large, and easily distinguished focus points.
  6. Write an encyclopedia. The viewers of infographics aren’t looking for a doctoral thesis, they just want the key aspects of your topic brought to their attention in a quick, easy, single-glance manner. Sacrifice the tiny details for broad strokes and if you simply can’t help yourself but to feel you have to inform the universe, link them to your site where you can bore… er… educate them to your heart’s content.
  7. Be patently offensive. What a great idea… a white person in blackface, a Rabbi eating a pork chop, or a Muslim holding a stick of dynamite! Those are the kinds of great ideas which will get you permanently ostracized and massively flamed by a few hundred million people, so you’re better off to be extremely sensitive to racial, gender, age, and body size issues, as well as just about everything else that is remotely controversial. Keep in mind that in Thailand making an even slightly disparaging comment about the Royal Family is a criminal act, so tread lightly no matter where your infographic is going to be viewed.

    Now grab a chalk and start writing on the blackboard like Bart Simpson: I will never commit these Don’ts, I will never commit these Don’ts…