Infographics: Fun to Look at, But Do They Tell the Right Story?

When you wrap up an online qualitative research project, the next step is analyzing and compiling the data—which you want to look as impressive and authoritative as possible, right? Of course you do. And that’s fine, as long as it’s the data that is impressive, and not just the flashy infographics you’ve created to represent the data.

In his 2011 predictions post, Tom Ewing of Kantar Operations reveals his skepticism toward infographics. He
says: “Infographics are generally a compromise between beauty and insight, and one which can end up tilting sharply towards the former. Sometimes the elegance of the infographic can serve to tell a pointed and useful story, sometimes it simply dazzles and makes you feel informed when you’ve actually learned nothing new or substantial.”

He also worries that researchers are going to be using them more and more in their data presentations this year.

In a follow-up post Tom quotes web guru Noah Brier who thinks infographics have “jumped the shark.” Noah says: “I like pretty things as much as the next guy, but (infographics) are presented as having some sort of higher purpose of helping people to better understand some large dataset. Which they hardly ever do, since that would require people spending enough time with them to actually understand the point they’re trying to make.”

This serves as a good reminder. Let the data speak for itself. Infographics should be used to make the data easier to process, not to distract from lackluster research results.

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