If you take a look around the web, you can’t go far without running across an infographic. We’re living in the age of “Snackable Content” and the infographic, by virtue of its short-but-sweet nature, is perfectly suited to be consumed online. Many infographics have gone viral, leaving a trail of social media commentary in their wake, before someone stopped and said, “Wait a minute, that can’t be right”.
A good infographic is a refined combination of artistic skill and analytical know-how. A bad infographic, on the other hand, is a huge embarrassment and even dangerous when we consider the potential spread of misinformation.
Wondering how this happens? Read on for five ways to make an infographic that is sure to confuse and mislead.
1. Get your facts wrong
Good intentions aside, the below claim that it costs the state of New Jersey more to imprison someone for a year than to send them to Princeton is just not true. Ivy League tuition has been higher than this for many years and was somewhere north of $50,000/year when The Atlantic shared this infographic in 2011.
The best graphics and design in the world can’t redeem a graphic where the content can be obliterated with a simple Google search.
2. Leave out vital information
Famously, Eric Trump, the son of then U.S. Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump, shared the below infographic on Twitter. With red traditionally representing the U.S. Republican party and blue the Democrats, this unlabeled chart seemed to imply that the majority of the country would be voting for the Republican nominee.
What Eric failed to report, intentionally or otherwise, is that this infographic is showing the results of a theoretical presidential election where only men voted. When you consider the companion graphic depicting an all-female vote, you get a completely different picture.
Leaving out vital information will leave your readers confused, or worse— misinformed.
3. Use a misleading perspective
Half the fun of infographics is dressing up otherwise ordinary numbers with clever graphics. But take things too far and you end up with a great-looking graphic that distorts the numbers and misleads your audience.
Consider the infographic below: Based on the height of the books, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume the Holy Bible has sold just three times as many copies as The Diary of Anne Frank. Until you realize the X-axis begins at the top of the books and in reality, Anne Frank has sold less than 1% the copies of the Bible.
Infographics can open people’s eyes to new subjects and ideas. And when you aren’t careful, they can open their eyes to your lack of design skill as well.
4. Make a graph gaffe
Can you spot the mistake?
Show the world that you lack a basic understanding of pie charts and see what that does for your infographics business.
5. Include too much content
The industry standard says you should be able to grasp the meaning of an infographic within a few seconds, but unfortunately not everyone follows that. If that’s moving too fast for your taste, overwhelming a visualization with too much text, too many datasets, too many colors or a poor design scheme are just a few ways you can slow a reader down. The last infographic below speaks for itself, and it is saying, “Help!”
The purpose of an infographic is to make the information easy to understand. Including too much information will ensure you’ve wasted your efforts.
Follow the tips above to create an infographic that is guaranteed to undermine the authority of your business and confuse your audience. It might even get you featured in an article like this someday! The important take away is that infographics are a powerful means of communication, and producing a good one takes care and expertise.