“9 out of 10 infographics suck.”


That’s a direct quote from Tom Peters’s keynote at the HOW Design Live 2015 conference (slide below). I wanted to jump out of my chair and hug him for saying it.

Well crafted visuals help make ideas and information much easier to understand, and more memorable too. However, many so-called infographics don’t do that. They are more about graphics (lots of them) than info. Too many are like this description from another slide in Tom’s deck:

A tangled, multicolored graphic representation that turns a complex idea into an incomprehensible complex idea.

Sometimes, a well-designed infographic is the perfect solution for your communication needs. Before you decide, be very intentional. Consider:

What’s the story you need to tell?
Who are you telling it to?
How do they take in or decode messages?
Is the graphic treatment enhancing storytelling? Or is it just applying a style for style’s sake? Is it making things more complicated or slower to understand? Or is it making things easier and more clear?

Style should serve — not obscure — ideas and content. The idea that you are trying to communicate is the most important thing. 

The infographics trend is like any other trend. Like skinny jeans — just because they are cool and trendy doesn’t mean they suit everyone.

Tom also talked about much more significant things. You can download his slides from the presentation at tompeters.com.