An infographic revisited

Infographics have become very popular on the web in the last year: I see several links to examples every day on my Twitter feed. There are some fantastic examples out there, but it has to be said that there are some going under the name which would be better represented by just a bulleted list of text and figures. If, when you remove the text and numbers from the graphic, the remaining graphic becomes meaningless and no longer tells a story then the graphic fails the first rule of infographics: show, don’t tell.

For instance, there was recently an article tweeted by @Econsultancy which showed this week’s top six infographics, one of which was a graphic which marked the fifth anniversary of the release of the iPhone by presenting some figures from Apple which showed how popular the device is. The original is shown on the Vouchercodes website.

I’m not singling out this one graphic as being particularly bad: there are plenty out there that fall into this trap. However, on seeing this one I immediately thought that I could do a lot better myself with the same data. I took their graphic and, I believe, improved on it, including checking and correcting some of the figures with the relevant Wikipedia page. I only used the data and text in the top half of the original, leaving out the employee stats, the “fanatics” section and the section above it, which I felt didn’t really add anything to the data.

iPhone 5th Anniversary infographic

My redrawn version of the iPhone 5th Anniversary infographic (pdf file available here, 384k).

I hope this isn’t seen as too critical of the person who created this graphic – after all, the pressures of having to complete something like this to a deadline probably meant curtailing what could be done – but I would like to think that the word “infographic” continues to be used for a very specific type of graphic which adds to, rather than simply illustrates, the data presented.

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