Infographics have been around for a while now, and I’m afraid they are here to stay.
You might have gathered I’m not a fan.
Here’s why infographics drive me crazy:
1. The lazy marketer’s argument: The text isn’t really text.
You have text in an infographic, but it’s in an image file, so it gives you no SEO benefit. Creating an infographic means that, as a marketer, I need to write snappy, interesting copy— but it won’t be picked up by search engines. What a waste.
Also, if I like a line of text in an infographic you created, I can’t copy and quote it on my blog or Twitter (with attribution, of course). I have to write it out laboriously, and usually, I won’t make the effort. Hey, I’m lazy. (I could share the whole thing, but sometimes I don’t want to do that.)
2. The pedant’s argument: The graphics don’t always make sense.
In many infographics (though not the best ones), the graphics are forced into visual representations in a way that isn’t strictly logical or accurate. If it doesn’t make sense as a graph, don’t force it. Venn diagrams and pie charts aren’t just circles, you know.
3. The Web 2.0 argument: It’s a throwback to the old school.
I thought we had moved away from PDFs. They just don’t make as much sense in most contexts, because Web pages and blog posts are easier to share and have much more features built in.
4. The control freak’s argument: There are no standard sizes or shapes.
PDFs at least are useful if you want to print them out and read (if you still do that). Infographics on the other hand…
You have to click on most to enlarge them enough to be able to read. There are no page breaks, which makes them a pain to print.
5. The user’s argument: They are difficult to read.
OK, I already said that. I admit not all of them are difficult to read, but so often when I’m trying to read one, I find myself leaning closer to the screen, squinting, and clicking to make it bigger. Sorry, unless it’s telling me how to write three blog posts in an hour without drinking coffee, I’m going to close the window.
6. The mobile user’s argument: They don’t work on mobile devices.
Try making sense of an infographic on your phone. Not fun. With so many people viewing your site on their phones, why would you make it so difficult for them?
7. The snob’s argument: They are ugly.
I know, that’s like pointing to one blinking, Flash-laden website and saying websites give me a headache. But really, there’s something about infographics that seems to bring out script fonts and garish colors.
8. The incompetent marketer’s argument: They’re hard.
Yeah, so maybe that’s the thing. I suck at design. If I had to create an infographic, I’d need a brilliant designer and a few days off. So, I’m jealous of all you amazingly creative people, (the very few) who can actually make a funny, informative infographic.
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In the meantime, if I have to combine images and text, I’ll use a slidedeck.
If you must
create infographics, do me a favor and make sure
of the following, will you?
1. The info you want to present makes sense displayed in visual form. You’re not just taking a string of numbers and thinking of interesting shapes to fit them into.
2. You are a good graphic designer, or know one who is yours to command (and be really, really honest about the “good” part). Even if you’re using a template, make sure it’s a nice template.
3. You create it in a user-friendly form, with easy-to-read text (large, readable fonts), and a color that contrasts sharply with the background. (If I can get away with being even more demanding, dark text on a light background, please.)
Then send me a link so I can torture myself envying your creative skills.
A version of this story originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog.