Five Biggest Infographic Mistakes Marketers Make

It seems there is another marketing infographic hiding around every corner of the web, and it will probably fall well short of its potential.

Instead of making information easier to consume, many infographics make it harder to understand the information they present or even outright mislead.

Here are 5 of the biggest infographic mistakes marketers make with an example of each.

1. Creating Confusion Instead of Clarity

Even as a gardener, this infographic was very difficult to follow for me. In particular, look at the environment key below and map that information in the infographic.

Beyond being hard to read, it can even mislead. Because it specifies planting times and average weather but for where? Every climate is different and the climate will impact planting times, temperatures, harvest, etc.

The Potato Lifecycle

Source: http://visual.ly/potato-lifecycle

2. Misrepresenting Information

Nielsen recently presented their research in an infographic-like format. In making the headlines catchy, they actually became inaccurate.

Under Race/Ethnicity, the heading reads “She is likely Asian or Pacific Islander.” However, that simply is not true.

The Asian and Pacific Islander segment is more likely to use social media than any other race or ethnic segment broken out in the report. However, it is also a relatively small segment. The most likely segment is the largest one, not the one with the highest index.

Source: http://memeburn.com/wp-content/uploads/nielsen-social-media-report.pdf

3. Not Sourcing Statistics

Just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true. Infographics, without a good way to embed full links to sources, are particularly poor at including sources. Many simply link to a main page, leaving you to search for the actual source used.

This example goes a step further, completely ignoring any attempt to include sources.

Let

Source: http://visual.ly/lets-do-price-warp

4. Too Much Text

Infographics should use visual design to quickly and clearly make a point. If your infographic has more text than the average blog post, you have missed the whole point of infographics.

This example from KISSmetrics is particularly disappointing. There is good information and advice buried in the infographic, but even where it was originally published most of the text is so small that it is unreadable on a large screen, forget about trying to read it on a mobile.

The information could have been presented as a blog post or redesigned with significantly less text.

What Makes Someone Leave A Website?
Source: What Makes Someone Leave A Website?

5. Just Desperate for Content

Coming up with ideas for content is a challenge, but that is no excuse for actually moving ahead with a content idea that simply adds to the content clutter we are all already facing. If it isn’t informative, useful or entertaining, just stop.

In addition to having no real reason to exist, this infographic from Lawyers.com is heavy on text and the design doesn’t help it to communicate the point it doesn’t have.

Source: http://blogs.lawyers.com/2012/01/how-to-stay-out-of-jail-on-super-bowl-sunday/

Your Turn

What other mistakes do marketers make with infographics? Share your views, or even links to the worst offenders, in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post, Eric!  One of the top mistakes I see is that marketers (and publishers!) don’t do enough to promote sharing of infographics in social channels.  Adding share buttons, making sure the graphics are enticing in small format, the headlines are catchy…the promotion is the opportunity to capitalize on all the hard work you describe above!

    • says

      Good point. “Create it and they will share” doesn’t work, you need to promote it yourself, seed it selectively and make it easy to share. One of the challenges B2B marketers and publishers have on the “easy to share” side is sharing still isn’t easy on many of their sites in general. In contrast, on a blog share buttons are already there ready to go (or at least they should be!!).

      Thanks for the addition!!

  2. Felice says

    I would add as a mistake, making them too long. By the time I scroll from the top to the bottom, I forget what the main topic is.  The best info graphics I have seen fir above the fold and get right to the point.

  3. says

    I’m gonna speak up for text in infographics, such as the Kissmetrics one. Yes, the text was too small, but the overall thrust was good. I’d rather look at that than a blog post telling me the same thing, 9 times out of 10.

    Think the definition of infographic’s getting pretty wide, and that’s probably a good thing.

    • says

      Ryan, good point, infographics cover a wide spectrum. How about this: if it is going to be text heavy, the design needs to make the text easy to read. Low contrast, small size and reverse type make it harder to get the point instead of making it easier.

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it!

  4. says

    Thanks for the post, Eric. Another error I see with regard to your #2 example (females and social networking) is a graphical one… The somewhat sexually-posed female graphic, combined with the placement of lines/dots directly on her body, objectifies and alienates the female viewer. Some testing around the office would have probably stopped this in its tracks prior to publication.

    • says

      Good point Stacey. I tried to stay away from “design” as a topic, as design sense isn’t exactly my strength. You make a good point that applies to a lot of marketing, not just infographics.

  5. says

    Eric, as always great
    post. A couple thoughts:

    * Infographics have turned a lot people into amateur statisticians,
    which unfortunately can result in the misuse and misrepresentation of data. For example, #3 does not normalize the data
    by adjusting for inflation, which makes the comparison meaningless. Another example is stats like, “68% of
    companies report closing a deal from social media. Really, if I close a single
    social media lead I’m counted? You can
    do that without trying; once again, a meaningless stat that calls into question
    the publisher’s credibility and agenda.
    * To pile on the “boring” comment. An infographic should tell a story. Starting with a strong headline, it should pull you through the content and have a strong ending. Many are just a bunch of random stats with no logical organization. Where is the “So what?” and “Why do I care?” Authors should start with those questions – just like any good marketing.
    * I agree with comments regarding #4. Not all infographics have to be about data. One of the more powerful use cases is taking a
    complex idea and simplifying it, In this case, the result is more text and
    fewer numbers or interesting images. One
    great example of this is the website http://www.lightsail.com.
    Keep up the great work.

  6. Carra says

    Good points Eric. I can’t stand when infographics have way too much text! It defeats the purpose of infographics entirely. Also agree with point number five “just desperate for content”. There are several infographics out there that shouldn’t have been made. I’d also add in infographics that are poorly designed or have bad graphics. They’re supposed to visually appealing and when they’re not presentable it just doesn’t work. – Carra at Marketo

    • says

      Thanks for defending the “text” point here. Definitely agree with you on design, I’ve stayed away from commenting on design since I’m generally not credited with a lot of design sense… 😉

  7. Paul Williams says

    Awesome post! I completely agree with you that Infographics are an excellent tool to communicate information quickly and concisely! They lose their effectiveness when people try to communicate too much information.

  8. Margaret Johnson says

    Very thought-provoking post, particularly as we are in the midst of a web redesign and a myriad of other projects where the word “infographic” appears. My input: I like infographics that print on a single page without issue, as sometimes I find enough value that referring back to them is a possibility. I also wonder about websites that are cluttered with infographics. Too many infographics without enough relevant content also on the page (not inside the infographic) is a disappointing website experience. I have seen many infographics that I like. Most of the examples above don’t fall into that category. Thanks for starting the conversation!

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  1. […] Five Biggest Infographic Mistakes Marketers MakeIt seems there is another marketing infographic hiding around every corner of the web, and it will probably fall well short of its potential. Instead of making information easier to consume, many infographics make it harder to understand the information they present or even outright mislead. Beyond being hard to read, it can even mislead. MORE >> […]

  2. […] Five Biggest Infographic Mistakes Marketers MakeIt seems there is another marketing infographic hiding around every corner of the web, and it will probably fall well short of its potential. Instead of making information easier to consume, many infographics make it harder to understand the information they present or even outright mislead. Beyond being hard to read, it can even mislead. MORE >> […]

  3. […] Five Biggest Infographic Mistakes Marketers MakeIt seems there is another marketing infographic hiding around every corner of the web, and it will probably fall well short of its potential. Instead of making information easier to consume, many infographics make it harder to understand the information they present or even outright mislead. Beyond being hard to read, it can even mislead. MORE >> […]

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