NEW SERIES: The Infographic Breakdown

This is the first in a series of creative reviews of infographics. Next in the series: “How Green is the iPad?” I am fascinated by infographics. It’s the design geek in me who relishes the challenge of boiling down abstract concepts, ideas, and loads of data into a digestible, all-inclusive visual piece. No matter what the subject matter is, I typically give an

infographic more than a cursory glance. In this series, I’ll take a critical look at the design approach, the subject, and the user experience. Also, if the intent was to create an emotional connection with the audience, did they succeed? And finally, does anyone really care?

First up, is a London Olympic Games infographic designed by British artist, Mike Lemanski for

What I like about the infographic is that there are numerous easy-to-digest bits of information that most viewers would find interesting and fun. The Olympics is such a huge, global event, just about anyone can appreciate the magnitude of staging one and all of the ‘factoids that come out of it. Stylistically, it’s well executed. All artwork looks and feels authentic. Compositionally, everything fits nicely.

I could see this graphic dovetailing nicely with a larger, more comprehensive article in a magazine about the Olympic Games coming to London. The compact format would fit nicely into any magazine. That said, I think this infographic stands on its own and doesn’t necessarily need a supporting article. The data visualization is easy to understand, impactful, and would serve it’s purpose either way. And at the end of the day, its nice knowing a few-thousand newts were relocated to a new home so they could build the Olympic stadium.

The Rise of the Slacktivist infographic, created by, and featured on countless websites such as Forbes, is yet another segment of the population with a cleverly coined term to describe them:

It’s not a surprise that there is a growing activist segment out there who get involved by way of social media and the web vs. chaining themselves to a tree in the freezing cold like the ‘old days’. It is however, interesting to learn more about what makes someone a ‘slacktivist’ and how influential these individuals have become in recent years.

This is a great example of how an infographic works as well or better than a written article. The data visualization and overall look and feel makes for a nice piece. It’s easy to follow from top to bottom. A lot of infographics are comprised of ‘stock art’ found online that lack style and creativity. This piece has more style and substance by way of professional design.

I now have some key visuals in my head that help me understand the “slacker” and “activist” (dude on couch vs. dude in the trenches). These folks don’t necessarily get out there on the front lines, but they can build awareness overnight on a subject and drive the initiative forward using every available social media channel.

My one big issue with this infographic is its physical size. Since it is so tall and narrow, to size it down for a print piece would make any content pretty much unreadable. It’s really only suited to a digital environment where vertical space is not an issue.

This brings me to my final point. Does anyone care? Apparently we do. This infographic references articles and studies from the likes of Forbes Magazine, Pew, The New Yorker, Fast Company and others. Do a quick Google search for ‘slacktivist’ and you’ll find this infographic. And if Forbes is correct, TIME Magazine’s person of the year will be The Slacktivist. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.