The main reason why I wrote this article is that I HATE infographics! I hate infographics as they are presented nowadays online. And I really don’t see any point why the infographics make such a big buzz around the Internet. Who really looks at them? Or are they just easy to pin ? This type of “data visualisation” is confusing me so much and I treat it like a “visual noise”. I leave those pages, and even the website straight away, despite the website being very influential in the niche that I am interested in.
Hey designer! What you have been thinking about when you created this “piece of art”? About me (the Internet user) or about the Guggenheim Museum? So you took a chance to express your unrealized design capabilities here in the data representation field? It reminded me of some designer chair, that looked so nice and modern, but incredibly uncomfortable to sit on, just right for a show room of some local modern furniture shop, but not for my living room, of course not, because I want to sit on it, at least!
Hey internet marketer!
Hey Internet marketer! I guess that you use these infographics for me – the loyal subscriber and future costumer, to keep me as long as possible on your website and finally buy something from your affiliates. So, why do I feel like I want to escape as quickly as possible from your online premises when I bumped into your infographic? Yes ok, we know that it is the best tool for content marketing to spread your word around the Internet and boost your online presence, authority and reputation, to earn backlinks and drive traffic to your site. But I bloody hate them!
A thousand words
Probably you are going to disagree with me: “But…but what is it about ‘Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words’ (props to Arthur Brisbane, editor of the New York Evening Journal)?” Don’t make me wrong because here is another reason why I want to put a light on this issue: I am a big fan of numbers, the data and charts. The right infographic can break a language, education and cultural barriers (the signs for a public loo for instance). So, that is right, but what type of images are worth a thousands words?
What the pros are saying
Edward R. Tufte in his book “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” gave two principles of graph design: “Erase non-data ink, within reason” and “Erase redundant data-ink, within reason”(data-ink in our case are pixels). Stephen Few, Principal of the consultancy Perceptual Edge in his Visual Business Intelligence Newsletter “Sometimes We Must Raise Our Voices” emphasised that while the data-ink should never be increased beyond the minimum that’s required, we should not hesitate to increase it to improve the user’s ability to read and understand what the story is about. “Like musicians, we must find the right volume to optimize the audience’s listening experience and the right dynamics of soft and loud to touch their hearts and minds in the ways we intend”. However many graph designers understand it too literally.
Take a look at this animated gif created by folks from DarkHorse Analytics for a few seconds. I don’t need to put any explanation here. The data says it all.
“Rather than dressing our data up we should be stripping it down”, thanks to DarkHorse Analytics
Who else hates Infographics
Here is an amazing article “Why We Hate Infographics (And Why You Should)” by Cyrille Vincey . His job was to create and tell data stories for clients, so I assume, he knows what he is writing about. His team believe in simple charts, like bars, lines, pie charts, or maps as a story telling instrument. They have some shameless plug for you to download, of course if you want to.
Should I do a conclusion?
If you don’t trust your eyes, you should trust the pros, if you don’t trust the pros, then go to Wikipedia… “Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.”
It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add,
but when there is nothing more to remove.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.