Infographics – have they gone too far?

We’ve probably all see an infographic that displays “interesting” (or not) statistics in a visual way. (For a selection of infographics, check out dataviz, and visual complexity).

An infographic turns numbers into something visually exciting and meaningful.

Recently I came across an article on the VentureBeat website, by Chikodi Chima, which states that infographics have “jumped the shark“.

In it, Chikodi refers to Edward Tuft, (author of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.), who said that successful graphics should do the following:

  • Show the data.
  • Induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production, or something else.
  • Present many numbers in a small space.
  • Make large data sets coherent.
  • Encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data.
  • Reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure.
  • Serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration.
  • Be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set.

It seems that many infographics don’t accomplish these, and are being made just for the sake of making them.

Here’s that link to that article…How infographics jumped the shark.

Give it a read, and let me know if you agree.

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2 thoughts on “Infographics – have they gone too far?

  1. I think you (and they) are correct. At some point the marketeers figured out that when they put [INFOGRAPHIC] into their headlines they got more clickthroughs, and from there to infographics jumping the shark was a remarkably short time indeed… but having said that, maybe there’s just a hype cycle for the things and we’re currently sitting in the trough of disillusionment.

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    • Hi Seth

      Thanks for your comment.

      I hope that you are right. I do recall seeing some really great infographics when they first “appeared on the radar”. These were ones that truly presented dry facts in a captivating way. These really helped you visualise what the numbers actually meant, or time-lines, etc. (e.g. “45 years of Star Trek“. However, recently I’ve started to see infographics that display nothing more than a coloured graph to represent the data. Call me wrong, but that aint an infograhic – that’s just a graph!

      However, here’s hoping that we are, indeed, in the trough of disillusionment, and things will start picking up from here. (And hopefully there are no sharks (or, for that matter, fridges, o be seen.)

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