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I’m all for a good image or graphic. A good one can draw attention to pertinent data, make information easier to grasp, and/or add some fun and color. But I saw one the other day that reminded me we should all ask this very important question when combining data with an image: does this enhance the information I’m trying to share?

So here’s the image (you can click on it for a bigger version):

Here are the good things: pleasing to the eyes, easy to read, pop out colors to show the highest number in each data set, a simple font.

Here are the things I’m confused by:

  • What do the numbers mean (it doesn’t look like percentage or numbers of people)?
  • Why are most of the numbers so close to 100?
  • Why is the one image a female for something called “Unique U.S. Audience Composition Index to Social Networks and Blogs,” especially when females only “win” 103 to the males’ 96 … somethings.
  • Why is each piece of information pointing to a spot on the woman? (As a pal on Twitter so eloquently put it “The only thing I learned was that gender is all in your head and education comes from your pants.”)

Now, to be fair, I discovered a more “complete” graph in Nielson’s full report on page four:

So the image of a female makes a little more sense with this title. And sentences were added under each category like “She likely lives in New England” (I personally like this touch). But overall the graphic is still not doing much to enhance the information. And pointing to the woman’s random body parts is still nonsensical to me.

What do you think? Do you think the image adds to the information in any way simply because it’s not just text? What kinds of images do you do with your work?

Erica Gordon is a Marketing Associate at Clear Verve and also works part-time at a Milwaukee area nonprofit. Follow Erica on Twitter:  @erica_g.

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