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  1. #1
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Arguments against Infographics for conveying content

    Warning, awesome makes-a-sailor-blush language in this article (for those of you who don't speak awesome-sailor on a regular basis, maybe you don't want to click):
    Infographics...(suck)

    Summary: "If every infographic were to disappear and be replaced by a picture of a kitten (or better yet, a picture of one of my kittens), the world would probably be a better place."

    Okay basically he says they're a huge waste of bytes, inaccessible and a device-limited means of sending what likely is a small amount of text information.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    First of all, what you said... although I mostly agree with the blog post, he certainly did not need to use the raw language to get his point across.

    However, Tom Morris is right as far as the graphic goes. Although there is nothing wrong with using charts and graphs to draw reader attention, whoever ran that could have separated the text from the graphic elements to make it more accessible for all. Then, they should have used some alt-text on the elements that remained to explain their significance to the visitor.

    I actually think part of the problem comes from the words we make up to describe new technologies. Info-graphics is one of them. It is a graphic and if it does not share information with everyone, it certainly is not an "info" anything. Good marketers know that in order to sell anything, you break it down to simple enough for all to understand it.

    What is really disquieting is that the graphic gives the impression that Apple either knows little or cares little about accessibility. Pretty shabby for a company that makes its revenue from Internet technology.

    All in all, that graphic sure lacks the juice.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    Warning, awesome makes-a-sailor-blush language in this article (for those of you who don't speak awesome-sailor on a regular basis, maybe you don't want to click):
    Infographics...(suck)

    Summary: "If every infographic were to disappear and be replaced by a picture of a kitten (or better yet, a picture of one of my kittens), the world would probably be a better place."

    Okay basically he says they're a huge waste of bytes, inaccessible and a device-limited means of sending what likely is a small amount of text information.

    What do you think?
    This is not a good idea. We need to use infographic properly.

  4. #4
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    Stevie D's Avatar
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    DS60's alter ego?

    I totally agree with the sentiment. I despair of graphics that are largely text that add pretty much nothing other than illegibility into the mix. The sort of infographics he describes are USUALLY REALLY SHOUTY AND DISCORDANT, which makes them even worse.

    Come on guys, this is the interweb, it's founded on principles of text content. We're not saying that you shouldn't illustrate your stats with some pretty pictures, and we're certainly not saying you shouldn't spice things up with fonts, colours and styles ... but go easy on the whole "text as graphics" jig. It makes things much more difficult for a lot of people, and it doesn't add anything, except more grist to the mill of shortening the attention spans of people who are already resembling bluebottles.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    DS60's alter ego?
    Hah! I was reading that and thinking....wow, that's a rant even more potent than the strongest Jason rant I've read here....

    And to be honest, sometimes a rant just needs to get out to make a point - reminds me of George Carlin (r.i.p.) when he'd go off - it stings and is over the top, but the point gets across and is memorable.

    And he's totally right - and it goes far beyond that. There are images being abused for no reason other than to satisfy someone's sense of ethics. Images for buttons when a couple simple lines of css and the image as a background can solve almost the same problem, AND still be far more usable when you have accessibility needs or are on limited screen/bandwidth.

    And javascript - ugh. Not even dredging up the whole library thing, there are those that make their sites unusable if you don't have javascript turned on. Well guess what happens when you make a javascript error late at night - uh oh, boys and girls, your site is now nothing more than a virtual paperweight!
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  6. #6
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    Some infographics I recall stumbling across at some point:

    Cracking The Credit Card Code | MintLife Blog | Personal Finance News & Advice

    Microsoft Acquisition Subway Map [Infographic] - PSFK

    Infographic: Who Is the Ultimate Vampire

    Left vs Right (World)

    Not all inforaphics are as simple as the one indicated in Tom Morris' article.

    The intention behind an infographic (IMHO) is the display of complicated or a lot of information in a quick & easily understandable manner--rather than seeing a wall of uninteresting text. But..some can just be for fun:

    Web Designers vs. Web Developers (Infographic)
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  7. #7
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    I agree infographics are overused a ridiculous amount, but they aren't without merit.

    For example, I had to write out a 19-step process to do something which had to go to the whole company. The process involves several steps across several pages of a website, and is quite complex.

    I ended up creating an infograph which clearly illustrated which portion of the site to use with which step. There was actually very little text since each individual step was really simple (a lot of "click this" type stuff, almost like I was pointing).

    That same thing would have been very difficult to understand as regular text, or even text with separate pictures.

    However a lot of things like charts of simple information definitely don't need to be an infographic. If for no other reason than THEY TAKE FOREVER TO CREATE! In the time I made that infographic, I could have written the tutorial 10 times over.

  8. #8
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Best infographics I've seen were like what they'd have in a "popular" (non-science) magazine when trying to illustrate something in science... they were a great way to show things like how a virus enters a cell, as the better infographics clearly showed a scale progression. Planetary systems were also good.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by samanime View Post
    For example, I had to write out a 19-step process to do something which had to go to the whole company. The process involves several steps across several pages of a website, and is quite complex.

    I ended up creating an infograph which clearly illustrated which portion of the site to use with which step. There was actually very little text since each individual step was really simple (a lot of "click this" type stuff, almost like I was pointing).
    That's probably something I would create as a PDF, as the text is rendered as text, which means that it is more accessible, text and vector graphics scale if people want to zoom, better chance of it printing properly, and will often be a smaller file size.

    However a lot of things like charts of simple information definitely don't need to be an infographic. If for no other reason than THEY TAKE FOREVER TO CREATE! In the time I made that infographic, I could have written the tutorial 10 times over.
    That's a very good point. Re-doing graphics can be a thankless task, which is why so many sites end up with graphics that have mistakes on that the author hasn't bothered to correct, or are out of date because they're too fiddly to change.

  10. #10
    Object Not Found junjun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    The intention behind an infographic (IMHO) is the display of complicated or a lot of information in a quick & easily understandable manner--rather than seeing a wall of uninteresting text.
    And that's the whole point, isn't it? One does not exclude the other; one is not 'better' than the other. Look no further than to Edward Tufte and you realize the power of also being able to present complex data visually.

    Some programmers need to get out of their tiny bubble. Now there's a rant someone should write up

    .

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    That's probably something I would create as a PDF, as the text is rendered as text, which means that it is more accessible, text and vector graphics scale if people want to zoom, better chance of it printing properly, and will often be a smaller file size.


    That's a very good point. Re-doing graphics can be a thankless task, which is why so many sites end up with graphics that have mistakes on that the author hasn't bothered to correct, or are out of date because they're too fiddly to change.
    Under normal circumstances, I probably would have too, if it was something for a site or something. This was just one of those things that I had to get done quick and dirty for the few that needed it.

  12. #12
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    Off Topic:

    CutePDF - Create PDFs from any printable document
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    That Apple infographic is just a magazine ad superimposed on a web interface. A clever designer could have made something fully accessible and semantically correct that looked very much like it, but someone chose to do otherwise.

    People get into the habit of using a particular tool, and that's it; that's all you'll get from someone who places visual presentation above content delivery. Few people understand the latent potential and power of the web, and the different aesthetic and technical mindset needed to pull it off well. Many designers seem to want it to be a combination of what's best in magazines and television, when it can be and should be much more.

    Rants like Tom Morris' don't help, though they may help him to blow off some steam and move on. More of us need to encourage people to do it the right way, and maybe also show them how and why.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy cydewaze's Avatar
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    I'm a very visual person, so I prefer the infographics over the boring text.

    That said, in my office we're required to provide a text alternative to said graphics, and quite often that's usually in the form of a table. A year after posting one such report, I checked the number of hits the alternative version got. Once I filtered out our developers' IPs and Googlebots, the result was zero. But it still has to be done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    Off Topic:

    CutePDF - Create PDFs from any printable document
    That's actually what we have on our computers at work. I just chose not to use it for this little thing. =p

  16. #16
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    That said, in my office we're required to provide a text alternative to said graphics, and quite often that's usually in the form of a table. A year after posting one such report, I checked the number of hits the alternative version got. Once I filtered out our developers' IPs and Googlebots, the result was zero. But it still has to be done.
    No point in having a "no blinds allowed" sign though. But, having a separate, text version... is the least awesome in a line of ideas to make inforgraphics and reports accessible. If you're visually impaired and trying out the text-only versions, you notice how often they have not been updated compared to the "regular" version... which one would you try to access, even if it's more frustrating? The up-to-date one.

    Better to, as mentioned before, have graphics decorating and enhancing good text. And content images with, just, alt text.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    DS60's alter ego?
    I see Jason has actually commented there at the bottom

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    Infographics can be great if they're used intelligently and sparingly. It's only when they become a full-time replacement for paragraphs, videos, and images that they are a serious problem. As a way of conveying information to the reader, they have their uses.

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    SitePoint Enthusiast GreenIrene's Avatar
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    The issue here is that the iPad infographic is that the point is not to educate the audience, the point is to glam up a tiny amount of information and make it sound huge and significant.

    What he's attacking isn't really infographics as a concept, what he's attacking is using graphics to pad out minimal information, which is ultimately nothing new. Still, we should see this practice as, ultimately, no different than padding out weak writing with fluff sentences.

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    If I have to choose between infographic vs. a long article to convey the same message, I would have to go with the infographic, even if it loads a bit longer. The time you save with comprehending the information just by looking at the infographic vs. reading large amounts of text would more than make up for the loading time.

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    I think to explain technical stuff, processes etc - infographics are definitely the way to go! It makes even studying something that much simpler!
    The problem is that most of the time infographics are over the top and tend to go in way too many directions!

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    SitePoint Guru dojo's Avatar
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    I've seen some pretty nice infographics but 2 things made me not use them: 1. SEO (would rather have WORDS, than images in my site) and 2. they're a lot of work. Easier for me to just type. Of course, if I had to speak at a conference, than something like this would be really fun. Not for my blog / forum though.

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    Im a fan of info graphics ability to make complicated data often easier to view and understand compared to graphs and tables, but i do think to many of them lack sources for given figures making it harder to check how reliable the data is. Also often info graphics also focus on so much on the aesthetics that the data being provided can become hard to understand.

    So i believe they can be a great tool for displaying data but as with many things there effectiveness depends on how well they have been implemented

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    Warning, awesome makes-a-sailor-blush language in this article (for those of you who don't speak awesome-sailor on a regular basis, maybe you don't want to click):
    Infographics...(suck)

    Summary: "If every infographic were to disappear and be replaced by a picture of a kitten (or better yet, a picture of one of my kittens), the world would probably be a better place."

    Okay basically he says they're a huge waste of bytes, inaccessible and a device-limited means of sending what likely is a small amount of text information.

    What do you think?
    Sometimes we fail to see the BIGGER picture when we’re talking about sharing content via the Internet. One of the most important aspects of doing business online (and sharing content from your blog) is to create it once and use it multiple times.

    In the case of text, we can create a single article and recycle it to inform others who don’t prefer to read text but rather listen through audio or watch through video. Take it one step further and that blog post can be reused to create a lengthier report or home study course.

    We’re offering different TYPES of content to reach our entire audience. Some prefer text while others prefer audible or visual stimulation. Infographics help us provide bytes of information to the visual learners. Whether you like them or not isn’t the issue.

    The point is whether or not you’re providing enough “variety” to satisfy your market. Infographics help to satisfy a need. If for no other reason this should be the deciding factor on whether you climb aboard the “make an infographic” boat.

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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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