The Good, Bad and Ugly of Infographics

Infographics have been proliferating in usage over the past year, moving beyond their traditional usage in media publications to an interesting way for companies to provide marketing content  — a blog post earlier this week by design firm InfoNewt discussed the use of infographics as part of an overall SEO strategy.

When done right, infographics tell a compelling story and provide information in a way that the reader can easily understand and learn from.  They also can summarize a more comprehensive set of data, as a way to generate interest in a source document.  And, they can increase visibility or awareness in a company through viral propagation on social sites.  But many are confusing, misleading or just a visual mess.  Here are a couple examples that are good for illustrating what makes a compelling infographic.

The Good — Social Media Statistics (iStrategyLabs)

2013 Social Media Statistics

This infographic is a snapshot of data from a Huffington Post article, “100 Fascinating Social Media Statistics and Figures From 2012“. What I like about this is that it neatly summarizes most relevant big-picture data from the article.  And since the corresponding article has links to all the source material, the reader can easily go into the details to find out more information.  The spacing and colors also make it really easy to read.

The Bad —  How Inbound Marketing Works (Grass Roots Marketing)


While I agree with the premise of this infographic, I don’t think it provides a compelling story.The statistics are poorly attributed, so the reader has no way of easily learning more.  And overall, the information is so generic that I don’t see what the reader is supposed to get from this — at least half of this graphic is filler with no useful information.  A simple change that would have made this more compelling would be to provide relevant statistics at each stage of the sales funnel.

The Ugly — Social Landscape (Buddy Media, acquired by


Besides overwhelming the eye, this infographic has two other major issues: the categorization of the companies is highly subjective; and the dynamic nature of social media companies makes this graphic obsolete almost as soon as it is published.  I’ve seen a couple of these kinds of graphical company lists, and I would say that serve no useful purpose.

Have you seen inforgraphics that you would put on the wall of fame or the wall of shame?  Submit your comments and I will do a follow-up post with more examples.


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