Monday, July 13, 2015

Infographic Trap

I enjoy an infographic as much as the next person.  I think they have a lot of information and they are a different way of presenting information.  There are times when I hate them.  There are plenty of slide show presentations on how not to do slide show presentations.  Too much text, bad color choices, etc.  Today I saw an infographic that broke every single one of those rules, but its ok if its an infographic, right?  Wrong.

In fact, the infographic that I saw today was simply a bunch of slides on a page.  Even worse, it was grey writing on a red background, not the easiest to read.  It was text and titles, then a line, then more titles and text, then a line, rinse and repeat.  It was missing much of the graphic from the infographic.  Yes there was a graph here and there, but it was just a slideshow.  So what is the point of an infographic if all you are going to do is scroll down the thing and stop between each set of lines and talk about what is there.  That is a slide show.

I began to think, what is the difference between a slide show, a prezi, and an infographic?  There are plenty who will disagree with me, but they have pet pieves that which I would disagree with as well.  So here is my break down.

Slideshow:  Linear presentation or story.  Like the pages in a book, they have an order for the most part and follow a logical book-like path.  You go from one slide to the next.

Prezi:  A semi linear story.  Many times these presentations reveal larger parts of a story, have twists and turns, can be a mystery, etc.  I have seen great prezi's that zoom in on different aspects of a larger picture to show interrelations of concepts and information.  If you have not seen these, just google amazing Prezi and you will find some pretty cool stuff.  I call these semi linear because they do follow a path set forth by the presenter, but the audience has no clear idea what is coming next.

Infographic:  Nonlinear presentation of data.  A presentation of data and facts related through design elements used by the author.  However, although the author tries to guide the audience around the graphic, it is up to the audience how to proceed around the graphic.  A great graphic is not dependent on advancing slides or moving along a path, motion is determined by audience focus and design.  The idea is that what info can the audience get from first glance, from a slightly deeper view, then by a deeper view.  With each subsequent view of the graphic the reader moves deeper into the argument in the graphic and the interrelated information in the graphic.

Regardless of what you use to present, make sure you use it in a way that is appropriate for what you are doing.  Don't just make an infographic because you recently learned about canva, venngage, or piktochart.  It may take away from your presentation and actually make what you are saying more difficult to understand.