The Romney team just released an infographic comparing the federal budget to a household budget. Replicated below:
I wanted to give an informal critique of this infographic. I honestly believe creating infographics is a form of art and that we need to give deep and careful consideration to all aspects of this art.
who is the target audience?
What they should want out of this infographic is to have the viewer see themselves in the family budget. They should be targeting a) people who are independents and b) people who might care about the federal budget.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the average family of four making under $25K a year doesn’t give a crap about the federal deficit. And complaining about it to them is probably not the best tactic to win their vote.
make the numbers mean something to the audience
On a quick look, the median income for a family of four in the US is about $67K. This is going to be a number people are a little more familiar with. People who do care about the deficit are going to look at the numbers in the infographic and feel a certain disconnect because the income is so far away from what they are familiar with.
When a typical man or woman supporting a family of four sees this infographic, they will start this train of thought:
“Well, if I had an income of $24,686, we’d have to move to another house. Gosh, where would we go? Probably rent somewhere, it would have to be under $700 a month. We’d have to sell a car and the kids… wow, we’d have to cancel most of their activities. Would I even be able to afford my iPhone? I’m under contract for another year, so I’d have to wait that out but I don’t think I can function properly without a smartphone…”
Can you see what they’re not thinking about?
THE FEDERAL BUDGET!
Instead, they should have realized that you want the audience to slip easily into the role of the family. To this end, recalculate all the numbers for a median family of 4. I’ve done it here:
Family income – $65,500
Family spending – $100,708
New Debt – $35,208
Total Debt – $434,081
Note: My first calculation was for $65,000, but I saw that this number brought the “spending” number to just to just under $100,000, which is an psychologically important hump. So I bumped the income up another $500 to hit that psychological mark. These kinds of details should be in the mind of every infographic creator.
These numbers are going to target an audience that cares about the topic at hand, and ultimately make more of the impact we want.
the graphic is not “share-sized”
What you see above is only 25% the size of the original. The original version of this thing is a half megabyte and comes in at 2112 x 3731 resolution. Holy cow.
Everyone knows the new iPad has a monster resolution, right? Here’s how this graphic would look at full resolution on a new retina-display iPad.
And on an iPad 2
A lot of viewing these days is done on mobile devices with screen sizes much smaller than an iPad 2. By having such a monster infographic, we’ve cut our potential viewing audience way down.
And they have no options for sharing it at a smaller size. There is a link to “download and print” it, but who is going to do that? Infographics are seen online. If you’re going to print them, fit them onto an 8 x 11 piece of paper. This infographic does neither.
I’m glad the Romney team has made infographics a part of their media platform. But they have a long way to go to create infographics that make the kind of impact that they potentially can make.