Two years ago, these lengthy graphics were all the rage. They presented information in a fun, scrollable fashion, and they often used great vector imagery. However, my argument today is that now, they’re becoming obsolete in the face of increasing mobile browsing and the rise of better interactive web experiences.
Where Infographics Are Coming Up "Short"
1. Many infographics are far too long to handle. They take too long to read, the chosen graphical form is often not strong enough to lead the reader through to the end. With blogging, many content marketers follow a rule of focusing on one main point in each blog—maybe infographic creators should follow a similar idea.
2. There are far too many with the same look. One can only take so many vector infographics with a machinery theme. Easy-to-adapt graphical themes like manufacturing, chemistry sets, or deep-water diving are currently being used to describe far too many topics, and it doesn’t really explain the content well at all.
3. Most infographics are in a form that makes content within the graphic completely un-reusable. Not very Web 2.0 of content creators is it? Unless you want to use the entire infographic, you can’t copy-and-paste, grab, or link to, any of the information bits you actually care about because most infographics are in PNG, JPEG, or PDF form. Major bummer. Your only option is to screenshot, and we all know how limiting that is.
The Next Era of Infographics
With these three arguments in mind, let’s look at some actual solutions to creating better infographics.
This is an example of an infographic that does its best, but just can't compete with the future of interactive media. But no matter what, the principles described in this visual apply to new forms of infographics. If you don't have good content, you shouldn't waste the time building the infographic.
First, if you’re serious about making infographics that smile, you need a strong interactive designer and HTML5 expert. Those who are familiar with HTML5 know what I’m hinting at here: The age of static infographics is over. With the rise of mobile browsing and increasingly small web interactions, nobody wants to zoom into a image to look at minute details.
A better option than extensive JPEG infographics is to create an infographic that changes in reaction to touch or cursors. For instance, check out this great infographic on the history of the Internet. When your cursor floats to one or more points on the timeline, the design shifts to allow you to see a new element. It visually defines the experience of hypertext, as a good infographic should do.
Of course, not all companies are going to be able to create such an imaginative and well-designed infographic. Nor should they want to: Simple hover-sensitive menus or pop-up elements can be just as effective, and more easily built than a fully shifting design.
The overall point here is that I do think an HTML5-savvy staffer is going to be necessary for companies wanting infographics in the future. Designers know that putting the energy into creating a lengthy PNG infographic can be exhausting, both in terms of creativity and construction. Why not use that energy and just a bit more time to create something that will actually be functional with HTML5?
Of course, it might be that you just don’t have the skillset needed to produce a solid HTML5 infographic. Note that you do have other options.
1. First, don’t forget about how effective basic hypertext can be. Even if you create a normal infographic, you can still choose to link areas of that infographic using area tags. That way, when your infographic alludes to some concept, you can provide a link directly to your site.
2. Another option is to get help. For instance, Visual.ly is a relatively new infographic-producing community in which designers help businesses create data visualizations on an exchange basis. Visual.ly designers create both interactive and static designs, but either way, they create some great products.
To get some great ideas on what you can do with HTML5 infographics and other forms of interactive data visualizations, check out the HTML5 Infographics collection blog--certainly some of the top interactive infographics available online.
If you’ll notice on our blog and site, Weidert doesn’t create a lot of infographics. Is that because we don’t like them? No. It’s that as we think about where to put our effort, we want to make sure our infographics are great, rather than clogging our social media channels with less understandable static graphics. For more information on our strategy to content creation, please checkout our guide to content basics below.