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Infographics: A dying art in marketers’ toolkit?

5th Aug 2013
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Everybody loves an infographic, including us here at MyCustomer, but how truly effective are they?

When we first began posting daily infographics in the news section of the site, it became very apparent very quickly of the popularity of data visualisations with our readers – infographics tend to generate higher page views and receive a significant number of shares, likes and all the usual social verification across our various channels.

But since marketers cottoned onto the link between infographics and engagement, the internet has become swamped with bad infographics that are poorly designed, contain little or no interesting facts and are used by some brands for nothing more sophisticated than to boost marketing campaigns.

It’s fair to say that standards have most definitely slipped over the last six months and we’re not the only ones to have noticed. Put off by increasingly bad designs among other reasons, Econsultancy now post jut one infographic on a Friday from the best that they have seen that week. And Scottish indie-rock band Franz Ferdinand even used their latest video to highlight the ever-increasing number of infographics in our world. 

However, whilst the infographic has been hijacked by some for bad practice, it’s worth remembering that they still prove popular with consumers/readers and when done right, can be used as an effective platform to visualise complicated data in a simplified way.

As the newest blogger for Forrester’s Data Insights blog, analyst Ryan Morrill used his first post to address the basics of infographics – how effective are they, how should they be designed and what data should they include.

He said: “Instead of trying to mimic something trendy, I suggest you start by thinking about the two qualities that make great data visualizations: data-driven design and an engaging graphic. Simply put, the design elements — from colour selections and font sizes to icons and layout — should only be in the graphic to help accurately emphasize the data.

“At the same time, the graphic should grab your audience's attention. This is the engagement factor. Rather than being a simple picture of all the data, a good visualization is a well-thought-out story or presentation that encourages your audience to interact with and digest the data. Engagement may seem elusive, but it’s usually the result of the energy the author puts in to trying to get their message across — by editing the data down and creating a logical, interesting flow or interface.”

Creating an infographic with this level of detail takes time and effort, he said, and if brands want to create engaging visual representations of their data they must also spend time thinking about charts and figures: Who’s viewing them? What are you trying to say? What data is necessary to your story? What do the colours mean? And how do the figures and text relate?

“The more thought and time you put into figuring out the best way to present your information, the more effective your visualization will be.”


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