Overdosed On Infographics

The use of inforgraphics in blogging and social media has absolutely exploded recently. According to data from Sysomos, there have been 142,669 blog mentions for the term ‘infographic’ from Jan 1 – Oct 18 almost tripling last year’s 54,074 mentions through the same period.  I think it can be traced to three main factors:

Data Overload

There is more information available to us than at any point and graphical portrayals can be an effective way to contextualize the data.

Easy Clicks

Publishers know that most people can’t get enough of these infographics. I’ll admit it. Seeing #infographic in my twitter feed makes me click a lot more than #longread.

Easily Digested

For most people, words>pictures

A simple Google search will find an infographic for anything your head can dream up. Want to make your resume an infographic? Done. Want to know 14 more things about pizza? Done. Curious about canine communication? There’s an infographic for that! There’s even an infographic about infographics:

Infographic About Infographics

via Ivan Cash

All of these visuals can make one’s head explode. There’s nothing wrong with a good infographic but the problem is that most just aren’t done well or are too obscure to be of any importance to justify the time and cost spent to make the visual.

HOW Interactive Design’s Executive Editor Grace Dobush points out seven tips for making responsible infographics:

  1. Collect good data, then get to know it. Synthesize the information—why does it matter? What are you trying to say?
  2. Find the appropriate form. Let the data tell the story.
  3. Consider every detail. Avoid what Tufte calls chartjunk by removing superfluous visual elements.
  4. Make the text earn its keep. If your infographic is being swallowed up by text, does it really need to be an infographic?
  5. Use color wisely. Color adds an extra layer of meaning, which means it isn’t always necessary.
  6. Get interactive. Would the data be more meaningful if the user could actually play with it?
  7. Test and test again. Above all, the infographic must be understood by the audience.
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