If there are two things in the digital marketing space that have really exploded of late, they’re the increasing proliferation of data like Facebook metrics and visuals (think Pinterest and Instagram). Savvy individuals and businesses have discovered an effective way to combine the power of this data with the visual appeal of graphics into the hybrid medium of infographics.

In order to leverage this growing trend, think about topics related to your business that would make for good infographics. You could go the DIY route and create an infographic yourself, but beware: crafting an effective infographic is more than just creating an image in Photoshop and tacking a few random statistics on it. The layout, copy, data, size, shape, and even the colors can affect how the graphic is perceived by your target audience.

There are plenty of websites and designers out there who are offering infographic design services. But given that this medium is equal parts art and science, you really need to be careful and particular about who (and how) you hire to make an infographic for your company.

You’ll need more than just a first-rate digital graphic artist. You must also pay equal attention to the “info” part of the infographic equation. From research to design, and from delivery to implementation, here are some key elements to keep in mind to make sure you get the right person for the job.

Preparation Is Key

As with any marketing project, a proper understanding of what you’re doing and why you are doing it is the key to success. Before you go out and look for an infographic designer, you need to figure out exactly what it is that you want the infographic to convey. It also helps if you have the relevant data already compiled.

Annika Sibert, president of design agency Fusion Creative, echos this fact. She says, “It’s one thing for a business to say ‘We need an infographic.’ It’s another thing entirely to ask, ‘What message do we want to convey in our infographic?'” Of her design firm, Annika says, “Most of our clients come prepared, with their data already compiled and good ideas as to what type of visuals they want to accompany that data.”

Of course, there are designers and agencies that will compile an infographic for your company from scratch, whether you have your data or visuals in place or not. But as Annika says, “If a client comes prepared, it definitely expedites the process. It’s probably going to be more cost-effective for the client, too, if we don’t have to do the research.”

How to Make Sure You Get What You Need

So, assuming you have done the prep work and you have a good handle on the data and the type of message you want to express with your infographic, where do you turn to find the right resources for the project? Although it might be tempting to go with crowdsourcing or low-cost freelance sites, Sibert cautions against this type of solution. “We see so many clients who come to us after they’ve been disappointed with the results of these types of sites,” she says. “In a lot of cases, the designers you’re dealing with on these sites are located in a different country, and probably don’t know anything about your business.”

Given the intricacies involved in interpreting complex data and the nuances of presenting it in a simplified, visually compelling way, “you’re going to want to have a designer that you can talk to, and easily communicate with, to make sure that the end result is exactly what you had in mind.” Sibert says that when you’re looking for an individual designer or agency, you should look for one that has some experience in creating the type of infographics you’re interested in.

It helps if the designer has a portfolio of infographics, “something tangible that you can take a look at before you decide to contract someone to do the work.” For example, even though infographics are not the focus of her business, Fusion Creative has a link to its infographic portfolio right on its home page, so “people can decide whether they like the style of our work before they even reach out to us.”

Sibert has recently signed up to a professional network of infographic designers, called Visual.ly. Sibert says this site differs from more common freelance designer sites because there are over 35,000 professional designers with specific, relevant, infographic and data visualization design experience that make up the network. Finally, Sibert encourages people to budget appropriately for the creation of their infographics. “If you budget for professional designers, you’ll get a professional result.”

Have you hired designers to make infographics for your company? Share your experiences in the comments, below.

[Image credits: InventHelp Facebook, Korean Resource Center, Visual.ly (YouTube)]