ipad glasses visual contentVisual content is so popular today with photos, slideshows, videos, animated GIFs, and even data visualizations taking center stage on many websites and blogs. However, there is a huge difference between good visual content and bad visual content. It’s not unusual to see an infographic that is designed really well travel across the internet virally even if the actual data and content within the infographic is lacking. On the other hand, an infographic filled with great data that is impossible to read and interpret won’t get the exposure that the data deserves.

Fortunately, there are five basic rules that you can use as you create your visual content to ensure it is presented in the most effective way. Follow these rules, and your visual content has a far greater chance of being consumed and shared.

Rule #1: Prioritize and invest in great design.

Visual content should look great. It’s visual! If it’s not visually-appealing, you’ve missed the point and lost an opportunity. Invest in a great design and the quality, readability, and shareability of your visual content will increase significantly.

Rule #2: Don’t communicate too much information or data.

Visual content should be laser-focused on a single core message. For example, just because you have a lot of data doesn’t mean you need to include all of it in your infographic. Less is more when it comes to visual content.

Rule #3: Eliminate as much text as possible.

Text allows you to put context to your visuals but too much text is distracting and actually weakens the impact of your visuals. Delete as much text as you possibly can and your visual content will instantly improve.

Rule #4: Remove clutter.

Just as you can try to communicate too much information or provide too much text in visual content, you can also get caught up in over-designing it or adding too many bells and whistles. This applies to the content within the visual as well as the content around it. For example, publishing a graphic on a web page that is overwhelmingly cluttered with other content will actually cause the graphic to be ignored. If people can’t quickly understand the message of visual content, they’ll click away. Let your visual content take center stage and do it’s job.

Rule #5: Go big.

Visual content must be published at a size that is easy to read, not only on desktop computers but also on tablets and smartphones. More people consume more content on mobile devices every day. Therefore, you should design and publish your visual content for a mobile audience so the most people can actually see the images and text within it.

Image: Sebastien Wiertz