Friday, October 3, 2014

Don't call yourself an infographics designer if what you do is data decoration

The title of this post came to my mind after seeing the graphic below, published in a cars magazine (1). It puzzles me that the creators of these things call themselves “infographics” designers. Aren't the goals of infographics to clarify (not just to simplify,) to reveal what mere tables don't show, or to tell interesting visual stories? I wonder if “data decoration” is a better term for this kind of work; see more from the same firm. It's colorful and fun and even pretty, but it doesn't make decoding the information easier at all; it makes it harder for no good reason (2).

Graphics like this may have a role in the media but, please, stop calling them “infographics”. As I explained in a 2012 manifesto, “Reclaiming the word ‘infographics’”, that word used to have a different meaning. It's upsetting to see it being misused.

(1) I didn't write down its name. I was waiting for a haircut, and I care about cars as much as I care about sports.
(2) I'm completely in favor of complex infographics and data visualizations, but if a graphic forces me to invest effort to understand its meaning, I expect it to yield valuable insights.


  1. I will never be able to understand why people work so hard to a avoid using a simple bar chart, as if a bar chart something to disdain.

    The more clever they try to be, the less useful their graphics tend to be.

  2. My only explanation is that Dilbertian managers want to have "engaging visuals" and they are ready to pay for just fancy colours and shapes. :-)

  3. The more clever they try to be, the less useful their graphics tend to be.
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