I’m a huge fan of infographics. I’ve used them in social media campaigns to drive up awareness and present information about issues or causes. I like infographics for all of the same reasons you like them:
- They spread easily through social media
- They make information accessible
- They can reach a broader audience
- They can increase interaction for your social media campaign
What I’m not a fan of (and arguably crusading against) are bad infographics.
DailyInfographic.com is littered with what meets my definition of bad infographics. I don’t want to pick on any one infographic (or infographic sponsor), but for the sake of example, we’re going to use the Catfishing Crimes infographic as a contrast to my four rules.
Rule 1: Keep it Above the Scroll
Content that lives above the scroll gets more viewership by casual browsers. In my opinion, a good infographic can convey all of the information you want above the scroll. When your entire infographic is above the scroll there is a much better chance your target audience will get the entire message and not just the first part. Our contrast infographic scrolls for nearly 11 screens on my MacBook Air.
Rule 2: Eye-catching Thumbnails are Crucial
Because our contrast infographic scrolls on and on and on, the thumbnail renders to something absolutely unreadable or eye-catching. Think about your information consumer. If you’ve posted one of these long infographics to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, is it going to show up large enough in someone’s timeline to catch their eye? My guess is probably not. If it doesn’t catch their eye and they scroll on, your investment in the infographic is substantially diminished.
Rule 3: Keep it Simple and Focused
Great messages are those that are simple and memorable. They’ve got a sound-bite and supporting information bundled up nice and concisely. Infographics should be no different. The contrast infographic, has six sections. I understand they have a lot of information they want to convey, but that’s not focused enough to stick with someone who is casually browsing the Internet.
I’ve grappled with this problem, too. Especially when we were using infographics to explain a complex policy or nuanced candidate position. What I’ve done in those instances is to break the information up over several infographics. Doing this helps prevent me from violating rules one and two.
Rule 4: It should Actually be a Graphic
Too many infographics are nothing more than text dressed up with a fancy font, icons, and a background. Our contrast infographic is no exception (and this one really violates my fourth rule). However, the section titled “Numbers and Stats on How Big Online Dating Really Is” is actually a decent infographic on the size of the online dating business.
So are there examples of infographics I like?
Absolutely. As the U.S. Supreme Court took up the two marriage equality cases, a friend sent me the following infographic to get my thoughts on it.
In my book this is a good infographic. First, all of the information is presented above the scroll and when turned into a thumbnail it is still eye catching enough to get me to click through to the full image. The content is specific, focused, and I can quickly comprehend the information the graphic is trying to convey. Finally, it’s actually a visual representation of data.
Jess3 did a series of infographics for C-SPAN during the 2012 election cycle. I think the graphics showing the number of words in each Party’s platform as well as specific word uses are really good infographics because they help a person quickly contrast differences between the Democratic and Republican platforms.
Bottom line: If you are going to invest money or time in creating an infographic, keep the focus on your target audience and how you need to present the information to them in a way that will get them to consume it. Based on my own experience, the best infographics are the ones that live above the scroll, remain eye-catching when viewed as a smaller thumbnail, are focused, and present information in a compelling visual way.
As an aside to this post, I don’t want to leave you with the impression there’s nothing good over at DailyInfographic.com; I’m their almost daily. They do a great job curating interesting infographics from around the Internet and I’m a fan of the write ups they do before each infographic. Every now and then they even post infographics that meet my criteria – like this one on food and wine pairings.