Ok folks, let’s talk infographics. They are a hot topic in business information circles (including research), and love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay.

Let’s break this down. Common complaints about infographics that I’ve heard include:

  • They’re busy – there’s so much information in one visual that they eye is not sure where to look…and how the heck do you print them out?
  • Everyone thinks they are an infographics designer, even if they’re just essentially creating a colorful PowerPoint slide. Take this HOT PINK infographic about the Kardashian wedding for example.
  • They’re too simplistic and incomplete – they’re not communicating the full scope of research findings to the customer or end-user.
  • Unless you have in-house graphic design, good infographics can be very expensive to produce.
  • Data used in infographics is dated, incorrect, or very biased.

Ok, let’s face it, there are some pretty awful infographics out there, and the tide of folks complaining about infographics is growing. Witness sites such as a Tumblr for terrible infographics, articles such as “Ending the Infographic Plague ,” and, well, this one from Gizmodo. There are also folks out there simply not using the correct information (i.e. old data when new data is available) to create their infographics.

All of these complaints aside, it’s hard to ignore the fact that sometimes one infographic piece can cut through the clutter of overwhelming data and give the client or end-user an ‘ah hah’ moment. That’s when an infographic is done well, delivering data in an unexpected way that resonates. In addition to using infographics for client presentations and deliverables, infographics are typically excellent traffic drivers on your website, so it’s understandable why they’re particularly popular right now.

So, if you’re working on a project that involves infographics, remember they have a short shelf life (data gets old fast!), they can be expensive to produce, and it’s on YOU to ensure they’re done accurately.

For inspiration (and guidance) be sure to check out the fabulous Edward Tufte, “The Leonardo da Vinci of data,” and you can start with some good examples curated by Kissmetrics.

Also remember that if you’re joining us at TMRE in November there are some related to data visualization, such as “Making an Impact – Data Visualization and Deployment Techniques that Bring Research to Life.”

Finally, are you curious about research-specific infographics? Look no further than The Nitty GRITty of the Research Industry!