Infographics: Art or Porn?

Infographic by Isaac Pigott

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. They convey stories in ways complex narrative content. When people try to shove 10,000 words into one infographic, pictures create headaches. And so we have the debate of whether most infographics are well-designed art or cheap info porn.

What used to be a clever art form from the likes of USA Today and the Onion (hat tip: Brian Blank) has now become the social web’s equivalent of media snacks. But Pop Chips are not hors d’ouvres as we have learned, and these infographics have become painful in length and the amount of complex data they try to convey.

Some require three, four or more screen views to convey all of their data. Others have so much information packed into the single screen view that you need reading glasses to read the fonts. These types of infographics would make any art director worth their salt scream. David Ogilvy would roll over in his grave if he could see these monstrosities. Is this too harsh? No. It’s the equivalent of admiring a beautiful painting depicting a woman versus watching cheap porn.

Yet more and more infographics are created because, frankly, they fascinate the eye attracting readers where simple text leaves content producers wanting. Complex infographics are the bad accidents of online media, sending in droves of online rubberneckers and fostering new inbound links.

Jon Aston hates infographics (Image by Devin Matthias)

That’s not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. A simple, well designed infographic can still tell an incredible story. But these types of infographics are harder and rarer to find. As Chip Heath said, “Simple is not easy.” Make sure the infographics you use are well-designed, convey information concisely and are actually useful.

What do you think of the infographic craze? Do you love them or hate them?