Infographics: The Good, the Bad, and the Fluffy – Part 2

Lisa Park   November 16, 2011

Navigating the landscape of infographics. (image via Supersteil)

In my September write-up on “Infographics: The Good, the Bad, and the Fluffy,” I went over the 5 things I look for to weed out a good infographic from the bad and the fluffy when running a content audit. They include:

  1. Compelling data that tell a story.
  2. An infographic that’s relevant to the brand.
  3. Simple, clean design.
  4. Rich graphics.
  5. Succinct and engaging copy.

After developing this list, I was naturally interested in finding out what the folks I rub elbows with on a daily basis think about these visual displays of information. Following is a roundup of infographics chosen and critiqued by a few of my SF colleagues along with my comments based on the criteria above.

 

Rebecca Hill, Associate Director, Social Media

Infographic: This is not my beautiful house

I like that:

  • it takes a lot of potentially complex data and creates a simple, understandable visual.
  • it’s provocative; I like that the side-by-side juxtaposition creates conversation.
  • the information itself is compelling and a reflection of our own culture.
  • it somehow creates something personal (e.g. like Tufte’s anecdote about the people and maps—you seek out the information most relevant to you).

LP: Though this infographic is mostly made of (ho hum) pie charts, I’d say they were the right choice in getting this meaningful story across in a clean and simple design that’s spot-on with Good’s mission. The headline and supporting copy are engaging and vital ingredients in this infographic. Thumbs up.

 

Gretchen Atwood, Senior UX Designer, @gretchenatwood

Infographic: The buzz vs the bulge

What I like:

  • It smartly expresses a trade-off I imagine many people think about: How many calories are my fancy coffee drinks? How can I maximize buzz while minimizing calories?
  • While being a clean design it includes rich comparisons to popular food items and what kind of activity would I have to do for 30 minutes to burn off that beverage.
  • The range of coffee drinks represented and the clever way of creating a different shape for each one. Since a big value of the chart is comparing one drink option to others, and finding lower-calorie options, having many drinks represented is important for the chart to have more meaning.

What I don’t like:

  • He uses an X and Y axis structure, but the Y axis is not set to zero but a midpoint along the X axis. I understand graphically why he did this, but he could have had the Y axis left justified and still put the calorie “pole” down the middle.

LP: I agree with Gretchen that the designer could have laid this infographic out more simply. Bonus points for the visually appealing graphics he’s employed, but one or two lines of copy to lay the framework for what’s going on—as Gretchen does so well above—would have also helped enormously.

 

Tosca Fasso, Content Strategy Lead, @toscafasso

Infographic: Approaches to web content strategy

I like this infographic. Here’s why:

  • Easy to grasp the large categories (technical, editorial, web strategy and planning) at a glance so that even if you spend no further time, you can take away that there are three primary areas of expertise.
  • Offers more specifics with a closer look.
  • Areas of overlap are easy to discern.

LP: I’ll admit that I’m biased about this infographic, but heck, what’s not to love about Richard Ingram’s simple and effective visual data buffet, with succinct supporting copy, chronicling all of what content strategists can do in the digital space.

 

Christine Bauer, UX Lead

Infographic: Inception, the architecture

My favorite infographics are those that:

  • summarize
  • provide perspective and comprehension
  • reveal a pattern or trend that wouldn’t have otherwise been noticeable

Most have seen the movie Inception. I’ll freely admit that after first watching it, I grabbed a pen and paper and tried to sketch out my own interpretation of the nested story. This infographic tackles the more complex summary. It plots the characters’ journeys across the nested dreams while keeping track of both the owner of the dream and the differences in time perception. Learn more about designer Rick Slusher’s thought process for this infographic.

LP: This infographic’s eye-catching iconography and imagery tell a very cool story. My only beef with it is that its minimalist design left me with a few questions—yes, I saw the movie—until I read Christine’s summary above. Embedding a brief explanation directly within this infographic would have made the story infinitely more accessible, and the infographic that much better.

 

I think we’re all in agreement that when an infographic tells a story simply and succinctly with imagery and copy that engage its target audience, it will succeed. Curious to know what you’ve seen lately that fits the bill—or doesn’t. Feel free to share here.

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One Response

  1. Tosca says:

    I admit that I’m becoming increasingly enamored of infographics. And it sure seems like there are more really good ones these days. Co-worker and fellow Razorfish @joylandrews recently shared this very cool infographic on occupy wall street from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/11/09/us/ows-grid.html?ref=occupywallstreet

    It’s really informative, but perhaps best of all is how the small infographics in the comments section visually express the commenters’ positions at a glance. Love it!

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