• Robin Kastengren

Why Infographics Have Got to Go (and it's not because I'm a writer)

Someone once said that infographics are the new sliced bread. Why? People like visuals.

Someone once said that infographics are the new sliced bread. Why? People like visuals. Social Media Today says that infographics can increase traffic by 12%. Mashable has an infographic to tell you why infographics are so important. Even Forbes said that infographics will boost your credibility.

I'm here to say: STOP THE MADNESS.

Infographics Can Be an Amazing Tool

Just because I'm a writer doesn't mean that I can't appreciate a good visual aid. Sometimes it's really difficult or confusing to convey a message with words – especially a bunch of numbers and statistics, and especially if I'm trying to compare more than two, maybe three, different numbers. This is where the graph comes in. Graphs are outstanding ways to interpret the relationship between numbers and figures quickly.

Infographics can be a great way to combine a few different graphs in a meaningful way to tell a story about particular trends. They can be an invaluable tool for conveying facts in a quickly digested way. Their inherent shareability gives you a nice way to get your content viewed by a massive amount of people in a short period of time.

You're Doing it Wrong

There are tools everywhere to make creating infographics easier than ever. You don't need fancy software or industry know-how, you just need to be able to do a Google search and find one. I'll spare you the trouble. There's Piktochart, Visual.ly, Easel.ly, and a dozen tutorials that tell you how to make one in everything from Paint to Powerpoint.

Of course, that also means everyone and their moms are creating infographics and dumping them all over the web without any idea of what they're doing. These hastily assembled objects are messy, the colors are atrocious, the information is sketchy and probably unrelated, and they are disorganized. There are lines and bullets and pies and bars all over the place. Most of the time, I cannot discern useable information from them without really trying hard and thinking too long; therefore, voiding the entire purpose of using an infographic in the first place.

For Pete's Sake, Hire Someone

There is a reason why Graphic Design exists as a profession. You usually need a fair amount of education to truly be proficient. You also need to have a bit of the artistic eye which some people just have and didn't learn in school. Or on the internet. These people know how to put things together that are easy to look at while getting the message across.

Marketing companies and web design companies have graphic designers in-house that can create these things for you. Are they free? Nope. Is the turnaround instant? Probably not. Are they a thousand times better than anything you could whip up in half an hour? Without question.

My unscientific and unproven suspicion is that infographics draw more clicks because they need to be clicked to be seen. The vast majority of the ones that I have clicked and looked at were too messy or disorganized for me to gain any knowledge, but I still find myself clicking on them when they turn up. I'm contributing to what I suspect is a false popularity. I have no information to back this claim up other than my own experience.

And this guy seems to agree with me.

My Prediction:

Infographics are going to continue to get good click rates and increase the popularity of whatever content contains them for a while, but people will start to get infographic fatigue. They'll realize that they're wasting too much time squinting at teeny text wrapped around confusing graphics and shading their eyes from hideous colors. Infographics will either have to increase in quality substantially, or they will fall out of fashion. And if people don't step it up, I say good riddance.

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