This week we covered content strategy. More specifically, visualization, creativity and creating engaging content on the social web. We took a closer look at info graphics and were asked to brainstorm what constitutes an effective one. The consensus amongst groups was that the best info graphics:
- Summarize large amounts of data or displayed statistics
- Present information clearly and concisely
- Capture the readers’ or audiences’ attention, and provide visual breaks when reading through heavy text
- Packaged lengthy and sometimes dry material in a visually appealing and easy to understand manner
- Show a natural flow or progression of information, using elements and principles of design like movement and colour
- Effectively use humour and/or symbolism
- Show growth over time
As an extension of the class discussion, we were asked to find and analyze three info graphics that illustrated the different elements of a content strategy.
What is a content strategy?
In Kristina Halvorson’s and Melissa Rach’s book, “Content Strategy for the Web”, content strategy is summarized as, “what guides your plans for the curation, delivery and governance of content”.
The content strategy quad
Taken from the site Brain Traffic, the text utilizes the following diagram to illustrate the critical components that make up a content strategy.
Let’s take a look at some other examples that illustrate these components.
This info graphic immediately caught my eye, and not just because I was hungry. Creaor Mark Smiciklas does an amazing job at illustrating the crucial components of a content strategy. This graphic conveys that when any one of these components is missing, the audience is going to be left unsatisfied.
Advantages or strengths:
- Uses humour and symbolism that most of us can relate to
- Minimal wording is needed to get the message across.
- Creative use of symbols and effective use of colour
- Easy to understand what the info-graphic is trying to convey at a glance.
Disadvantages or weaknesses:
- Appeals to a North American audience, but would the same image be iconic across cultures?
- It’s arguable whether this info graphic strikes the right balance between the amount of information presented and the amount of symbols used.
- The graphics seem to overpower the information that is being presented.
This second example from Patricia Redsicker, shows helpful hints on how to create meaningful content. It is arguably the weakest of the three.
Advantages and strengths
- The subject matter is clear with a distinct title.
- Tells a story through the use of a reoccurring character.
- The eye is guided effectively through the use of numbered lists.
- Key words are emphasized by highlighting and bold text.
- Harmony is achieved through the use of an analogous colour scheme.
Disadvantages and weaknesses
- There is not a whole lot of supporting information here. Where are the facts and figures?
- Did this information really justify an info graphic, or would it have been just as effective as text?
Whereas, example one utilized mainly symbols and example two mainly text, this last info graphic, from Fathom Business Events strikes just the right balance between text and graphics.
The graphic uses the whimsical theme of campfires and storytelling to illustrate how compelling stories can be a powerful tool for influencing your target audience.
Advantages and Strengths
- A clear theme has been developed with the use of iconic imagery one would associate with camp fires and storytelling.
- There is a limited use of colours and a consistent colour theme.
- There is a clear flow to the information. The eye is guided left to right and from the top downwards.
- There is quite a bit of information here. What may have taken up pages or a chapter, is well summarized using one graphic.
- Key clusters of information are grouped together.
- A natural grouping of information is established through the use of headings.
- Images are not pointless and every illustration/symbol serves a specific purpose.
- Strikes the right balance of text and imagery.
Disadvantages and weaknesses
- Text is quite small and font may be hard for some to read.
- Some images are also quite small – you really have to zoom in to make out what they are.
- The colours may be hard to reproduce in black and white.
With the rise in popularity or solely visual social media applications like Pinterest and Instagram, there is clearly a demand for more visual content on the social web. With info graphics increasingly being used and becoming easier to produce, PR professionals need think about incorporating them into our content strategy.