Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(Business) Infographics: Good or Bad?

There is much that can about infographics, that it is a useful tool that makes otherwise important but dull information interesting to people in an age that has been conditioned to response better to images than they do words and numbers or that, as Business Insiders's Walter Hickey described it, "what happens when you take the worst of Powerpoint and the worst of Excel and throw into Photoshop".

you'll read numerous business articles that will tell you how good infographics are for your business as it will visualize data that would otherwise put night nurse out of business and make it eye catching to readers bombarded with data from all angles and in truth, the writers of those articles are right. For someone who reads a lot of data and news reports, the age of big data is a god send but for the average reader who is more than likely to be pressed for time, data can be intimidating. Infographics are not perfect but they do serve a vital purpose of making data accessible in an age where it will play a bigger role than ever.

However, infographics is suffering from the same stigma that has plagued other visualization tools such as Powerpoint; overuse and poor execution. Powerpoint was so overused and poorly executed so long that a slew of instruction manuals and books such as Christopher Witts's Real Leaders Don't Do Powerpoint: How to speak so people listen: How to Sell Yourself and Your Ideas were written to either help businesses use it better or forget it all together. 

Infographics has not reached that point just yet as there is a clear need for data to be visualized due to its abundance but it's poor execution is a growing concern as a number of infographics are are irrelevant, poorly sourced, poorly designed or just don't make any sense as some data are served by words and numbers. whether infographics are good or bad is really up to what you plan to use them for as it may serve you well to ask yourself if the data you have is worth being visualized or whether they can be transferred into images so seamlessly.

In sum, whatever you think about infographics or data visualization in general, both of them here to stay whether you like them or not.


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