Picture this

I hate infographics.

Maybe I just hate anything that’s so painfully obviously trendy and everybody jumps all over like it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Wait … what’s that? Yeah, I signed up for Google Plus and Path. Shuddit.

So let me soften my initial statement: I hate when blogs and websites overuse infographics.

And frankly, that seems to be a lot of them.

Infographics — short form for “information graphics” — are a pretty-picture way of showing information, data or knowledge.

Hubspot uses an infographic to describe what an infographic is.

They concede the infographic’s popularity is out of hand and lots of people are putting out just horrible versions.

With so many people jumping on the infographic bandwagon, there is certainly no shortage of downright awful infographics floating around the web, all pretty deserving of ridicule.

I have lots of friends who are (amazing) graphic designers and I’m sure they dig the infographic.

And you know I also love visual representations of life. Who would I be without my camera?

I even write infographics into a client’s content strategy — if it fits.

Pictures are a great way to tell a story. After all, each one is worth a thousand words, right?

But, aye, here’s the rub.

Not only are many poorly designed and presented, but its overuse tells me one thing: you’re not making enough of an effort to tell your story.

Sure, data can be difficult to convey in words. Not many people want to wade through a paragraph full of numbers and (potentially) boring data.

That’s why it’s a good idea to remind ourselves of the basics of web writing:

  • Use an active voice (The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, instead of There was a quick brown fox who …)
  • Separate chunks of information into bullet lists like this one (See what I did there?)
  • Separate chunks parts of your story with subheads (I always forget this one)
  • Use bold or italics to stress importance of some words or thoughts
  • Keep paragraphs simple, limiting each to one thought (I actually lost points for doing this in my technical writing course)

Maybe the age of 140-character thoughts is making us lazy and making us expect our readers to be lazy.

I don’t mean to say infographics are lazy. I’m sure a great deal of work goes into gathering the data/information and designing them.

But we need to remember our readers come to us not just to be informed, but also to be entertained, enlightened and engaged.

And I don’t believe there’s any better way to do that than with words.

Remember, I’m not just a writer. I’m also a reader.

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