I love reading a good book or in depth report—when I have the time. However, on most days, I just want the facts in short, understandable bites, and without a lot of jargon. The saying that less is more is often true when it comes to explaining complex ideas or ones with lots of statistics and data.

People are busy and our digital world dumps a ton of information at their virtual doorstep every day (sometimes every hour!). So how are we dealing with this onslaught? By increasingly turning to visuals for a way to quickly decipher if we want to even learn more about a subject, and then for the information itself.

One of the best ways to provide the visual cue and the valuable information is with infographics. By now, you’ve seen these wonderful communication gems—they’re everywhere, for good reason!

Consider an infographic I created to explain the history of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Sure, I could have written an article, but how many people would want to slog through 40 years of historical data, government enactments, and amendments?

Instead of overwhelming people, the Evolution of ERISA starts with a brief intro paragraph and then switches over to an easy-to-follow timeline. Color, graphic icons, a dotted line, and bulleted text all work together to create readable chunks. If someone wants to skip a date, fine; they can jump down to the next entry, or bounce around as much as they want.

In a previous AdvisorTweet, I discussed the growing importance of visual imagery, and not surprisingly, this trend continues. Today, visuals show up in emails, social media posts, eNewsletters, websites, and online brochures and handouts.

Infographics are especially helpful in the financial services industry. Why? Let’s face it; our world can be a little dry at times! Moreover, we often need to communicate involved concepts, but we want to do so without turning off clients and prospects.

For a complex or lengthy subject, I suggest hiring a marketing firm or graphic designer to create your infographic. However, for less cumbersome subjects, you can actually create your own graphics using one of several great online tools.

My current favorite is Canva. The company offers a standard 800 pixels X 2000 pixels infographic template (in the Create a design heading, just click on More to find infographic under Blogging & Books). Even the free service Canva version offers 19 infographic templates (you can purchase other templates for $1 apiece). Find one that comes close to what you have in mind, and then enter your content. You can even change the colors and fonts to match your company style guide.

I also like Piktochart, and the free version of this online app also comes with 12 infographic templates. Rather than referring to pixel sizes, this app uses paper size (which you can easily adjust if necessary).

There are other, more involved online apps, such as Ceros, but this one does not offer a free version, and it’s probably best used by someone with a little graphic design background. This app is also big on interactive visuals, which are cool, but probably not as applicable to the average financial services advisor or firm.

The bottom line: try to start infusing your content with some infographics to help people better understand your world and your products. Skip the jargon and the fluff, and get straight to the point with easy-to-read text that’s broken up with helpful charts and icons. In no time, you’ll be an infographic expert!

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