When NASA announced our presence to the intergalactic community, they did so via pictorial message.

And whether you publish to speak to aliens, solve problems, educate, entertain or merely satisfy curiosity, using information graphics (infographics) to communicate your message can make your content much more valuable to your readers.

How valuable? Conventional wisdom puts it somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 & 10,000 words.

Infographics & the Internet

Information graphics, or infographics are:

graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. With an information graphic, computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians develop and communicate concepts using a single symbol to process information.

As data journalist and information designer, David McCandless puts it: “data is the new soil.”

In case you haven’t noticed, the web is brimming with infographics. In 2010, The New York Times held infographics week. There’s an infographic search engine (although you could just append infographic to a google image search to get similar results). And Visual.ly claims to be the world’s largest community for sharing infographics and data visualizations. I like the Cool Infographics Blog which highlights some of the best examples of data visualizations both online and offline. Mashable and Alltop are also good places to check out examples.

Of course, many infographics suck.

Infographics & Lawyers

And the legal profession is no exception to the internet infographic craze. With a few quick searches, I was able to find over 30 legal infographics, many published on law firm websites.

As Max Kennerly points out, infographics are also commonly used for SEO:

In theory, people will see your pretty graphic and, if they agree with it, will link to it, and thereafter sprinkle your website with more Google SEO fairy dust.

However, as Max’s post also notes, some infographics are poorly sourced and included incorrect information. This is the internet after all…

Unfortunately, many infographics that are developed purely for seo, are internet trash.

Of course the use of information graphics by lawyers isn’t limited to marketing or even to the web. Litigators have been effectively using data visualization at trial for years.

Tips on Infographic Creation

If you’re interested in learning more about how to implement an infographic as part of your internet marketing, try this post.

My advice is to spend the majority of you time considering the data / content. Making crappy, uninteresting, data look pretty is a waste of both time and money.

Remember that the purpose of your information graphic should be communicate your message more effectively than words could alone.

Don’t create one for the sake of creating it.

From a search marketing perspective, I like Slavik Volinsky’s 7 steps to make your infographic a success:

  1. Start with a Great Idea First.
  2. Have a Distribution Plan.
  3. Include a Variety of Information Sources.
  4. Create a Landing Page On Your Site.
  5. Have a Clear Call-To-Action.
  6. Make It Visually Appealing.
  7. Say “Thank You” and Develop New Connections.

Also, review Ian Lurie’s 11 reasons your infographic isn’t an infographic:

this infographic isn't one

Like the written word, whether or not people actually like, link to and share your your information graphic depends on whether it supplies their demand (whether it be for information or mere entertainment).

Also, think Haiku. While data visualization can simplify the complex, too many internet information graphics make data even more confusing.

Of course, if you don’t have the time or skills, you can always farm-it-out. Like other things web, infographic costs can vary widely. Usually you can get a decent one designed for a couple hundred bucks.