Damn, We Should Do An Infographic on That; Charts Trying to Be More and Do More?

Pinterest Hypes the Infographic

Ah yes, the SEO value of an Infographic. And the viral potential of having Mashable feature your infographic. Quick, what do you want to see an infographic about? Is there something  you do, some business angle that you could parlay into an infographic? The new marketing manger asks, “Can you make this one go viral, please?”

(Some of the ideas fleshed out in this post were started in this post: The Long and the Short of It – Defining the [infographic] )

Are you tired of the hyped infographic yet? Over at the Daily Infographic (a great resource if you WANT one) things are getting a bit tired. I subscribed on Tuesday after moderating a panel with one of the young curators. And yesterday’s Uber-Chart on the Dollar Bill was about the most superfluous use of an [infographic] I have ever seen. I’d say they jumped the shark on that one. And if that’s the BEST they had in their quiver for Thursday, February 23, 2012, we need to get busy. And actually, the top three on their page right now are awful.

So what’s the buzz about? And why oh why do they make them so damn long? (my continuous rant on the long-long form continues)

Let me show you the good, the bad, and not the ugly.

1. GOOD – where the image enhances the information, makes a memorable comparison or connection

Good Infographic Example - How To Lose Your Hearing
Click to view complete infographic
GOOD BECAUSE:a. The image supports the information; b. The silhouettes are good representations of the sound levels; c. The spiral vortex mirrors the structure of the ear.

2. BAD – where the image does not display any additional information, where a simple chart would’ve been a better choice

Infographic with little or no visual value
Click to view full-size version

BAD BECAUSE: a. The images are generic; b. The icons do not enhance our understanding of the information; c. The visual layout is boring and has nothing to do with “schedule” or “hectic.”

So this second “infographic” is the variety where some marketing manager said, “Make me an infographic.” And probably the next thing he said was, “End of day, you have two hours.”

Good infographics take a lot of time. The practitioners of visual design and data visualization will start with the concept of the numbers and search for a THEME or IMAGE MOTIF that will enhance the story behind the data. A really good infographic builder will also research the google relevance of keywords associated with the data. If you’re going to design an infographic for maximum exposure you need to know what people are searching for. It may not be what you originally think.

And when the idea is formulated, the images are created in sync with the overall theme. The data and the visual become cohesive and instructive.

So, please, by all means, create beautiful infographics. Daily Infographic knows, we need more good ones. And there are certainly going to be more bad ones.

The Take Away: If the art and data blend into something that furthers the information you’ve got an infographic. If they don’t you’ve got clip art with numbers.

UPDATE: The panel on infographics by Social Media Club is now up on Storify with some highlights, and the entire video is available on YouTube:

Here’s a skip of the announcements to the start of the panel:

Infographics Love Them Or Hate Them (Social Media Club Panel on Infographics)


John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
permalink: http://uber.la/2012/02/do-an-infographic/

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