I had no idea what things like “4 in 10,” “1 in 6,” “9 in 10,” “54%,” “1 in 4,” “84%,” “39%,” and “35%” looked like until I saw this gem of an infographic this weekend.  Stop being an enabler by posting this junk, Mashable.  Much longer rant below the fold…

Worthless Infographic Clip

Infographics – they’re playful, they’re informative, and they’re easy to digest.  But are they really serving their purpose?  By that I mean, is seeing information in an infographic any more useful than just seeing the information?  For the infographics I run into on a daily basis, the answer is a definitive “no.”

The causation of the creation of an information graphic should be the need to show a piece of information visually so people can better understand it.  The lowest possible form of presenting information as a graphic is converting a chart to a graph.  The chart provides you some information you need, but it’s more effective for people to visualize it, and the information is easier to consume as a graph.

Most infographics include at least one graph of some sort, but a lot of space on infographics nowadays is taken up by absolutely ridiculous visuals that are in no way amplified by being converted from text to picture.  This is directed at MBA Online and its uninformative infopictures that take up almost the entirety of this “infographic” on job hunting through social media (see opening paragraph).  (Sidenote: yes, I know this has been a problem for a while, and there are thousands of offenders out there, but this one caught me as especially ridiculous.)

It can be offensive to an audience to see information presented this way.  One of the principle concerns of marketers should be to make sure to reach the audience while staying on their level of intelligence (people love feeling smart).  Your average 5th grader doesn’t need a visual aide to figure out “4 in 10.”  Presenting an infographic that delivers that information visually is a slap across the face to the audience and tells them that the presenter has no faith in their intellect.

Adhere to the needs of the audience. Give them the information they want most up front, and give it to them in the most appropriate format.  If it doesn’t need to be drawn out for them, don’t draw it out.  Shape the work to respect the audience, and the audience will respect the work.