It seems like everyone jumped on the infographic bandwagon over the past year and a half. Used properly, they’re a great way to spread the word about a company and drive traffic to a site. However, all too often, infographics are not given the time and effort they need to be effective. I often see so-called infographics that offer little more than a stick figure and a couple random facts that anyone with access to Google could find. These “crapographics” give real infographics a bad name.
People are becoming more sophisticated web surfers every day, and they won’t be fooled by subpar offerings. The era of crapographics is over. Here’s why and how you can differentiate between infographics and crapographics to come up with something truly compelling to promote your business.
Content Marketing Fails
One of the things I find most frustrating about search engine optimization is the number of shortcuts people try to take with it. Crapographics definitely fall into that category. These thin infographics aren’t fooling anyone. They don’t have the rich visual appeal or valuable information that makes a great infographic. Worse, people feel ripped off when you promise them something interesting and instead serve up a drawing my 4-year-old niece could do better alongside information that’s of use to no one.
The problem is that people have become so invested in the idea of content marketing and how every bit of an article should be used to boost SEO that sometimes they lack common sense. For instance, here’s an infographic by the International Business Times that attempts to explain the Tupac hologram that drew attention a few years ago. Alas, the infographic was not planned out very well and clearly was only designed to give the page a visual element, where a text description next to a photograph may have been more effective.
Now you know why bad infographics are a terrible idea. Let’s explore what differentiates a good infographic from a crapographic.
3 Characteristics of a Crapographic
Here are my three surefire signs of a crapographic:
- It doesn’t teach you something new. If you’re simply regurgitating facts that are already out there in another form, then don’t bother putting it into a graphic.
- The graphic makes no sense. There are some infographics that are so overly stylized or randomly designed that they’re impossible to read. The design should complement the information, not overwhelm it.
- You can’t figure out the point. Crapographics exist only to drive traffic, and so you may find yourself wondering, “What were they trying to get across here?” When you can’t discern a reason for making the graphic, you’ve found a crapographic.
3 Characteristics of a Great Infographic
By contrast, good infographics should:
- Be easy to read. No confusing design or rainbow of odd color patterns here.
- Be thorough. The information presented should be fresh, new and interesting, and it should cover a topic in depth rather than just giving a glancing description.
- Be creative. The more interesting the visuals, the more likely you are to be engaged by the graphic. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but rather the graphics should be used to enhance the point being made.
Of course, not every great blog post or longform content needs to have an infographic to be successful. Part of eliminating crapographics is also recognizing when a nice picture or straightforward chart would do a better job illustrating your point than an elaborate infographic.
For instance, Hydroworx, a manufacturer of aquatic therapy pools, decided to forego an infographic in this post about spinal injuries and opt for a visual asset, instead. The presentation of facts in a straightforward manner works much better here, and using the pie charts adds visual interest without overwhelming the story.
Another example of smart avoidance of a bad infographic comes from this blog about infographics. It lists the characteristics of a good infographic, but instead of gumming up all the good advice with what could be a distracting layout, it allows the words to simply stand on their own, unencumbered by competing visuals. Sometimes a good infographic strategy is about holding back rather than pushing forward, and less is always more when it comes to presenting information.
Plus, and don’t underestimate this little secret, it’s a lot easier on your design budget when you decide to skip the subpar infographics in favor of a couple pictures or a bulleted list. Sometimes it’s definitely worth the investment on developing a great infographic, but a lot of the time you simply won’t get out of it what you put in. If you’re getting cruddy infographics, you’re losing money.
The Bottom Line
Don’t risk putting a crapographic on your website simply because you feel like you should be making infographics. Deploy them judiciously, only when you feel your post could really benefit from the addition of a rich visual element. When you do use them, make sure they are fully developed and useful, not just fanciful ways to drive SEO value.