Why I don’t get most infographics – and I can’t believe I’m alone.

I keep reading posts and articles about how infographics are now an unstoppable trend – how they make market data more absorbable in at-a-glance bite-size chunks. How they’re perfect for the digital viewing we all do. So why is it I find the majority totally unsuited to the way I personally take in information? And I end up taking less in than the surrounding text.

The current fashion for content marketing has apparently given a whole new impetus for stylish infographics. And in the early days I use to really like them – I like to think of myself as someone who understands the cross-section of art, ergonomics and hard data. I should be the perfect audience.

Here’s an example – on a subject I’m personally vested in, with figures I’m fascinated by – and I’d still far rather read the conventional text in the post rather than the graphic. See for yourself what you think.


The issue is I just don’t know what to do with infographics. Most look like they took considerable time, and often skill, to create, and they appear to be crying out to be reproduced as a wall poster. But who really does that? They don’t fit neatly on a single screen – you have to scroll several times to read them all, and the graphics more often than not take away from the data rather than emphasizing it. And how do we share them even if we do like them? Not by ‘save as’ and emailing as a graphic, we simply forward the URL of the entire post.

So when do they work? On the homepage of your website I can see, because the reader can sit there focusing on a single screen and take in the message. But in an email, on a blog post, an online article – I don’t think so.

Think Wired magazine. Often great articles, written by incredible minds. But I’m so often distracted by the over-enthusiastic art editor that much of the content passes me by. I find the same with many infographics, and I can’t help thinking that in ten years time we’ll look back and wince at how ‘form’ was allowed to steamroller over ‘function’ in this way. If the function is to appeal to ‘buyers’, as all content marketing surely is, I’m convinced it’s failing. The reader has to work way too hard to take in the message – and buyers aren’t known for their perseverance.

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