In many ways, infographics help to fulfill one of the important promises of the internet in general and social media in particular. When done right, they present a lot of useful and interesting data in a format that is visually stunning and easy to digest. They can be used to inform the world about things in ways that no other medium besides (arguably) video can accomplish. Rather than reading a long article or a numbered list of facts, infographics visualize important, interesting, or entertaining aspects of the world in an extremely sharable format.
That was the promise, at least. The reality is that we’re getting flooded with low-quality “infographics” that are light on both information and graphical qualities.
One of my responsibilities with my company is to check out graphics submitted to Media Caffeine. There, we publish infographics that strike our fancy on just about any topic. My criteria for quality are not that high. It has to look good, have verifiable data, and present the topic in a way that makes the graphic interpretation more useful than a simple article. That’s really not asking too much and for the last few years I would say that I accepted around 50% of the submissions. Things have changed. I can go through a page of emails and find 1 in 10 that don’t absolutely suck.
I get it. Infographics are hot and many gurus are promoting them. They are “link bait”. They are traffic drivers. They’re a way to make your website look cool. That’s all fine. If you’re going to build infographics, put some pride and effort into them. Quality is fading and that needs to stop immediately.
At the very least, a good infographic should take two weeks. That’s if all of the data is already accumulated, all of the research is done, and all that is left is to make it visually stunning. Some of the infographics that cross my desk took an hour to build if the designer didn’t know what he or she was doing.
That’s my rant for the day. If you’re going to try to get into the infographic industry, whether you’re a designer or a business, do not participate in generating these low-quality infographics that are plaguing the internet. It’s not only bad for the infographic industry. It’s bad for the internet as a whole. They make us dumber. They actually suck intelligence from our minds when they’re as bad as the ones I’ve seen. Don’t contribute to that. Think quality and value above all else and avoid the shortcuts to infographic fame that some guru is selling you.