SMASHING MAGAZINE HAS a very important article about how to make good infographics. ‘The Do’s And Don’ts Of Infographic Design’. The author with the advice is Amy Balliett. She is not a household name on the infographics scene, but perhaps she will be or should be. After she co-founded the company Killer Infographics with business developer Nick Grant a year ago they have produced 750 infographics to go viral for their clients … – wow!
The problem is of course that even if they are succesful with clients, the actual infographics they produce is exactly the kind of stuff that most other people in data or visualization just hate. The work that gets ridiculed at conferences. Towering graphics with random wikipedia-data dressed up as meaningful, but more often than not impossible to read and extract meaning from. The graphics that is sure to cause major pain in any trained eye.
They must however serve a purpose to a lot of people outside the graphic circles. Apparently people willingly share these colorful pages with pretty stuff on them. They tweet them, digg them, link to them … The example about google pagerank with a crown on a black silhouette received more than 1000 inbound links and nearly 5000 stumbles and to this day still receives attention in social media.
Infographic companies with other ambitions than driving traffic and acting as SEO and marketing should try to learn something here. But what? There must be a lot of people out there, who disagrees about the importance of meaningful data and correct visualization-principles. Is there a rift between the correct way and the popular way?
So go read the article. It’s a unique way to get a glimpse into the mind of one of the under-reported practitioners in the infographic world. Some would call them the lowlife polluters. The advice is actually pretty solid – but it just detracts from the message, that the examples used is of such low quality.
The comment-box below the article is glowing with anger from people who desperately tries to tell about best practice – and from people who predictably draws the Tufte-card. Come on now … Edward Tufte has no role to play in such a discussion. We’re not in academia – we’re in cool business where the return of investment of an infographic is the most important question. How often do you find yourself thinking about ROI when designing a visualization?
Somehow I think Amy and colleagues don’t give a shit about all the hate they receive as long as they can find companies willing to pay for the next link-bait-graphic produced within a short timeframe and for a quick dollar. As Amy herself says ‘In my opinion, an infographic should not cost over $1000 (which is much higher than we have every charged a client).’
Too bad they don’t charge more then – with 750 pieces in a year that would have made a pretty penny and hopefully lead them onto the road of better work too.
Killer Infographics homepage (ouch! They got another inbound link there)
Discussion on Flowingdata about the article (more heat for Amy)