Should we trust infographics?

If you work anywhere within the advertising industry then you’ve probably come across a boatload of infographics. They have many applications – they might convey something simply that words cannot, they might be the crux of an advertising concept or may even convey increases and decreases in highly important and complicated statistics that could only be explained by duelling blue and red lines or charts. Hell, they may even amuse you. (See the Rick Astley pie charts if confused)

Why do we love them? Let’s admit it – they’re really easy to understand, they don’t require lots of words (the hatred of the written word in this day and age no doubt requires a blog post entirely to itself but I digress) and they also don’t seem to undergo the same critical ringing that a written explanation may be subject to.

How many times have we looked at an infographic and taken it completely at face value? We’ve nodded our heads, agreed with the content and then went about our day without stopping to even consider where the basis for that information or graphical claim came from. When you think of infographics as alternatives to the written word, then why should we not criticise them the same way?

I can reluctantly admit I’ve been guilty of simply swallowing the implications of many infographics and have probably even circulated said infographics to colleagues, captioning them as ‘useful’ or ‘illuminating’. And some of them may have even been either of those two words.

But as the below article stipulates, we may be being subjected to subtle skews in information when scales are implemented in more creative and innovative measurements. What can be taken for impressive graphic design and creative flair in an infographic can actually be the designer’s method of improving how metrics look, blurring finite statistics or simply making differentiations seem vague.

Have a read (and a chuckle) at this article from Fast Code Design. You might have a few more questions up your sleeve next time someone flicks you the latest ‘too good to be true’ infographic.