It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it -- which is the reason infographics have become increasingly popular over the years.

Infographics can present information in an interesting, easy-to-understand way. That’s why Bill Greeves, CIO of Wake County, N.C., opted to create one (below, click image to enlarge) to promote the county’s new website last October, adding it to the usual press release.

“When we were getting ready to roll out our new website, I knew we needed to do something a little bit unusual in order to get some publicity for it,” Greeves said.

The goal of the infographic, which was included as part of what the county called a “comprehensive online media kit,” was to both inform the public about the new website while also giving journalists information they could easily latch onto and help promote the website.

One of the great things about an infographic, Greeves said, is that it allows people who might otherwise be turned off by numerical data to become engaged in what the county wanted to present to the public.

“If we did it right," he you should be able to look at it with no previous knowledge of the topic and be able to understand what the point is and go about your day,” he said.

The infographic was successful in that the county got the local media coverage that helped inform people about the county’s new website. In fact, a blog post by Greeves that outlines how to go about making a successful infographic was picked up by the General Services Administration and reposted on HowTo.gov.

Wake County also made an infographic about its email system for internal use.

Following an internal survey about the email system, Greeves said he wanted to present the results to employees, but a 20-page report on what they found wasn’t something he thought people would be interested in. Instead, the county came up with an infographic that caught people’s attention and saved everyone the time of reading a report.

Greeves said he worked with his Web administrator, who also has graphic design skills, to create the infographics. Over a couple weeks, they probably spent about eight hours putting them together.

Create Your Own Infographic

The first step to presenting any kind of information is knowing your audience, Greeves said. For the Wake County website infographic shown above, Greeves started by identifying goals and key pieces of information. He wanted to both announce information to the public and help the media promote the website, so there is information about new website features that local citizens would be interested in, and statistics that the media would be able to use to work into a news story.

Greeves says the five important steps for a government agency interested in making its first infographic, which are on his blog, are:

  1. Define the points of content you want to cover. Think of the big questions people would have about your topic, and answer several of them.
  2. Use a professional designer. This is not a DIY project unless you really have strong graphic skills.
  3. Make it fun. Strike a balance between content and graphics.
  4. Test the infographic. Show your work to people and get feedback, and then make adjustments accordingly.
  5. Share, share, share. When you release it, market the heck out of it through your other channels.
Colin Wood Colin Wood  |  Staff Writer

Colin has been writing for Government Technology since 2010. He lives in Seattle with his wife and their dog. He can be reached at cwood@govtech.com and on Google+.