It’s a tricky balancing act when visualising data, between getting your getting your point across and making something visually striking.
But is it a problem if the infographic becomes so beautiful and intriguing that it becomes a work of art itself?
As something of a film geek I got pointed in the direction of the New York Times’ picturesque info graphic ‘The Ebb and Flow of Movies: Box Office Reciepts 1986-2008’
It’s beauty led to the design winning the Best Of Show Award at the 2009 Malofiej International Infographics Awards.
While it looks amazing, however, it is almost impossible to extract any real meaning from it. What trends can you highlight from this? Where are the comparisons?
Can graphic designs can become so beautiful that they detract from the infographics original purpose?
Data Journalism should strive to help consumers understand patterns of data in a meaningful way so they can make decisions based on these findings.
If a complex graphic leaves a viewer more spell bound rather than informed then it has failed in its primary duty.
But used sparingly the infographic as art can be quite striking in its effect and the unravelling of the layers of over-complication can be quite satisfying. See here for another New York Times example.
Like I said there is a balance to be struck. But in journalism clarity of communication is vital it is better to heir on the side of simplicity.
“Let’s not lose sight of the end user in this. Unless we’re creating pieces for a gallery, everything in a graphic should work to help people make sense of complex information. Especially now, when we’re being bombarded with info from all sides….Lets… not add to the chaos
Information first, art second”