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$#$#ing Infographics

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Friday December 2, 2011 )

I swear, if I stumble across another infographic today, I’ll be cleaning barf off my notebook screen.

Infographics, a visual way of presenting information, have been around for a long, long, time. Something has happened in the last 6 months or so that has seen the number of them explode – it’s almost like they are breeding; perhaps plotting to take over the world.

Many are certainly being used in ways that are just a waste of bandwidth and an insult to the intelligence of the viewer.

I’ve been hoping the infographic plague would be a short-lived trend, but it doesn’t appear to be. I believe it to be an evil conspiracy among underemployed graphic designers.

What the hell is so wrong about using plain good old text – an introductions, bullet points with stats and a conclusion? In my opinion it sure beats having to deal with being assaulted by different fonts, sizes and images all over the place demanding my attention.

Kurt Cobain was onto something when he sang those famous words:

“Here we are now, entertain us”.

Have we all become afflicted with ADHD? Does everything need to scream at us to grab our attention or interest, and to be so brief that the information really means nothing? Many infographics I’ve seen quote stats and percentages – and no references. For all I know, the data was pulled out of the graphic designer’s butt.

I concede I have seen some wonderful infographics, but the majority have been .. crap; to the point that a link I may have clicked on before I’m now hesitant to if the accompanying blurb contains the word “infographic”.

Before you are convinced by some hip and cool graphic designer that what you need are infographics, just bear in mind that along with grizzly old farts like me around, search engines cannot read text on images – so along with your graphic designer, you’ll also need a CSS whiz to get around that issue

You’ll also need to consult an infographic development expert to make it worth your while; don’t be fooled into thinking that just because someone is good with Photoshop, that makes them qualified.

Sure, some infographics do get attention and generate a bunch of traffic, but for every one that does, there must be hundreds that don’t judging by what I’ve seen.

A well thought out and presented article beats an infographic hands down in most scenarios in my opinion – I feel like I’ve gained value for my click and time. I wonder if many other folks feel the same.

Good information does not need to look “cool” or make a fashion or artistic statement to attract attention.


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