Oct 01 2012
What was once a brilliant communication tool has now been fed to the digital marketing rubes, who lack the creativity to even choose a relevant topic for their infographic, let alone arrange the data they have into a compelling design. A lot of bad promotional infographics seem to make the same mistakes, but they all stem from the fact that a lot of marketers aren’t willing to put in the time or the effort required to generate good content that people actually want to click on and share.
If I sound a little harsh on the “creators” of these bad infographics, it’s only because it irks me when uncreative, lazy people try to capitalize on the success of insightful people who are willing to do the hard work necessary to create something great. You can avoid falling into the former category by not making the following mistakes.
Signs of a Bad Infographic
1. More promotion than information: People don’t share advertisements — which is what promotional infographics are, essentially — unless there’s some other content there that they feel is worth showing to somebody else. Unless your company has done something noteworthy or interesting, nobody is going to care about it, even if you put it in a really pretty picture.
Image via medicalsolutions.com
2. Confusing infographics with other content: Much of the information that bad infographics are trying to convey doesn’t belong in an infographic in the first place. A top 10 list, tips and tricks, or a jumbled collection of “facts and figures” are not enough to support an infographic. An infographic represents data, and you can’t expect an article, blog post or a bunch of little paragraphs to attract people’s attention just because you arranged it in an image.
3. Horrid design: Generic vector graphics that don’t relate at all to the information being presented aren’t going to be visually appealing to anyone. You need a visual arrangement and representation of the data that conveys the scope and meaning of the information itself. That type of insight takes time that many designers and marketers won’t take the time to cultivate. There’s minimal (if any) brainstorming, and they won’t go through more than one or two drafts, even if they conceive of a better idea halfway through.
Image via opensesame.com
4. No connection between design and data: The true purpose of an infographic is to wrangle dry or technical information into a design that makes sense of it in some way. If the design doesn’t somehow relate to the data, all you really have is statistics arranged on a pretty JPEG file. That’s not relatable, insightful or interesting enough to make people pass your graphic along.
5. Not enough data: You can always tell when an anemic infographic is trying to stretch too little information over the bones of their graphic. If I can peruse the entire infographic in 60 seconds, how informative could it be? So-called “Micrographics” only work if they’re still packed with information; otherwise, they’re just pretty (tiny) pictures.
The long and short of it is that ideas matter, and that’s what people are really looking for when they click on an infographic, not just a random jumble of statistics paired with photoshopped images and crazy fonts. The people who are putting out all of these horrible promotional infographics are either guilty of pure laziness, lack of creativity or both. Usually, it’s some uninspired online marketing company that has managed to sell their clients on the value of infographics, and then fails to deliver anything that anyone will want to click on or share.
If you want to produce graphics that people will share, you need to start with a solid topic that is rich with plenty of data to act as the foundation for your visual design, which should display the information in a compelling and insightful way.
When David Moore isn’t ranting against lazy online marketing practices, boring writing or the price of Funyuns in the vending machine, he’s blogging on small businesses, SEO, business news and marketing topics at IncBeat.com.