People realized that writing was better than pictures back in Mesopotamia, 3500 BC.
In short, they too often misrepresent data and are driven more by design than data clarity
- spongeist blog
Did someone really sit down one day and think “you know, unless we have the market share of the iPad illustrated as a pie chart shaped as an apple, people will think this statistic is too dry”?
- Tom Morris
Infographics have four big weaknesses:
- they are useless on mobile devices, such as phones
- they are really, really hard to read through completely, end-to-end, and so won’t get remembered
- They don’t integrate with the rest of the Web. It’s like the text is DRM’d.
- They are pretty bad for SEO
Fortunately there is a solution:
Always include a conventional HTML text version of the each infographic, linked from the pretty picture (print the URL at the bottom of the picture). It need not look as nice, but it should have the same text, so people can read it on their phones, or using instapaper, or whatever. Make sure to include references back to the original sources, to allow an informed debate and help engagement. (Use short URLs, not a URL from Hell like this infographic does)
Or link to/print the address of a PDF version, as here, which is not as useful IMO but can be prettier.
The same goes for videos btw. Not everyone wants to put on headphones, just to hear what you have to say, not to mention the issues with making flash work on a lot of devices. Please include a text version of the script.
Some people include a lot of URLs at the bottom of their infographic. No! Do not do that. It’s is very hard to for readers to type these into their browser. Just include ONE short URL, of a HTML or PDF version like I say above, and include all the individual URLs within that, in clickable form.
The pictures are clay tablets, in the University of Chicago