I was hired by lainformacion.com two years and a half ago, a just-online young information site in Spain. I came from Publico, a print national newspapers. My task at lainformacion.com was leading the New Narratives Department. I could call it the infographics department, but the concept it's wider than that.
By then, I always had thought than infographics were very useful for readers, give very good image to the media and helped to build that scarcity that made people buy one newspaper and not another. What I didn't knew and was about to discover, is that infographics could become so important for media, not just in terms of quality, journalism and image, but also in visits and time in page.
I'll keep talking about lainformacion.com later, but let's take a look to a list published by Facebook with the top 40 articles by shares on this social network in the United States (2011). How many graphics will we find here?
1. Satellite photos of Japan, before and after the Tsuanmi - Alan McLean, Kevin Qualey, MAtthew Ericson, Archie Tse and Jason Alvich, form NYT
23. Obama's and Bush's effects on the deficit in one graph - Washington Post, using a NYT graphic
26. The most typical face in the planet - Is this a graphic? Not acreation from the newsroom, but I would say it is (Yahoo)
36. Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet, shifted Earth's axis - Not exactly a graphic, but a visual proof (CNN)
40. Steve Jobs Patents, by Shan Carter (NYT)
Maybe not too many at first sight. But now think on how many text or video articles are produced each day, and how many graphics. Things change. And now let's think in quality and image again: all those graphics are about quality information. Some of their competitors include giant crocodiles, zodiac signs and videos with dogs.
And now let's talk again of the data I know best, the data from lainformacion.com. If the dara provided by media is correct and we include on this list (Spain is not included) our most shared articles, two graphics make the list. One about how would be the spanish Parliament with a different electoral system would be on the 8º position (in spanish, and about spanish politics). Another about the money the spanish outgoing government is given as indemnization also makes the top40. And we're a just-online newsite, very young from a small country (compared to USA).
These are not the best graphics we've produced by far. In fact, we use to create interactive graphics and these ones are both static. But it's not just casual. If we take a look to the top10 articles in number of visits at lainformacion.com, six are infographics. And the top 4 is all infographics, including pieces like the Tube map of the spanish indie music, the timemap of distances by train in Spain or the the explanation of the spanish budget.
But lainformacion.com is a medium where graphics and visuals play a very important role and we can think that little success can make a huge impact in . Let's about 'traditional media'. Marca is the leading newspaper in Spain, a sports newspaper. Its web is also leading the market in Spain with really impressive numbers. In 2010, the World Cup of soccer took place in South Africa and Spain won it. Maybe the most important news for this newspaper (I said it's about sports, but the truth is that Marca is actually about soccer). And the had the most visited article of their story during the world cup. The chronicle of the final game? No. A graphic. The calendar. They even did the translation to english. For lainformacion.com was the same. We've got a succesful article during the World Cup. Again a graphic (or a game) about Paul the octopus (a german octopus which became famous for saying which tema was winning each... and being right).
So, the final message is clear: Infographics worth. Image. Quality. And visits.