Why Infographics Suck

March 17, 2014
Why infographics suck

“Visualize your data!” is a phrase I see smeared around everything that has to do with infographics. It’s time to wake up, folks. Making the font bigger, changing the color, and sprinkling in great looking graphics along with numbers and trend lines isn’t visualizing data.

What it actually means to “visualize”

When we look at infographics, and websites that sell them, they’re selling the idea that you can visualize your data better. Sure, it looks prettier — but are you really visualizing it? Probably not.

Visualizing data isn’t knowing the bounce rate for pages on your website or knowing the average time on the site. It’s knowing the narrative behind the numbers.

Numbers can tell stories, but not by themselves. “Our traffic increased 15% from last month!” But what’s missing here? One word: insight.

Insight answers the who, what, when, where, and why. This is the hardest part about data analytics. Something I believe that can never be automated and could never be conveyed just by slapping some pretty looking numbers on an infographic.

Numbers need context. Without context, you don’t have insight. Without insight, the numbers are useless.

I challenge you. The next time you read through an infographic, think about what insight you’re actually gaining. Was it actually valuable? Are you really visualizing your data, or are you just wasting time making the same numbers look pretty?