Infographics: am I wrong to think the DIY jobs suck?

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Does this really tell you how to use the flip camera more clearly and quickly than some simple written instructions with far fewer illustrations?

When infographics were first introduced they were heralded as the next best thing since sliced spam. I didn’t warm to them and still haven’t. Am I being weird? Does anyone else agree?

Here’s Wikipedia’s take:

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. The process of creating infographics can be referred to as data visualization, information design, or information architecture.

Infographics to represent simple concepts like the weather forecast over the next few days have, as Wikipedia goes on to say, been around for a long time. But when we’re talking somewhat more complex concepts I don’t think they work as well, humans’ visual systems seeing patterns and trends or not.

For a start, some infographics come in shapes that don’t fit comfortably into your average desktop / laptop / tablet / smartphone screen formats. To read (and you have to read the words otherwise the pictures don’t make sense) you need to scroll up and down quite a bit before you get the overall picture.

Many infographics are trailed in the social media and beyond with images so narrow there’s no way you can read any of the information, visual or verbal, unless you click on the image once or more and eventually get to a size you can work with.

Biggest problem: it’s the toy-toys again

When infographics first gained wide popularity two or three years ago there was a rush of DIY kits on the market that provided you with infographic templates on a variety of different topics. All you had to do was personalize the information a little bit and voilà, instant blog post!

Trouble with that was yet again, putting the toy-toy cart before the content horse. In their rush to show off their exciting new format, newbie and even so-called “expert” bloggers totally forgot about what should actually be saying to their readers/customers and also, the importance of sharing information clearly and simply.

Creating your own infographic became a case of shoving nuggets of information in a pretty random order to match the cute pictures and icons, and to hell with what readers could take out of it if they even did manage to figure out what the underlying message was.

Quality infographics: built from scratch, by real experts

The infographic fans still rave about these vertical comic strips and of course, good ones that are properly designed and built from scratch are very effective.

But the DIY merchants who still try to express themselves with a format that can so easily become visually schizophrenic, are just asking for a mish-mashed message. And most likely they get either a mish-mashed response, or none at all.

What do you think? Are you in favour of infographics or not? Please share your views…

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family…

photo credit: The Daring Librarian via photopin cc

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  1. […] other day I came across this nice, square infographic and felt I absolutely had to share it with you. I have no idea who the original author/producer is […]

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