Co.Design

Visual.ly Wants To Make It Easy to Hire Infographic Genius

A team of infographics geeks, who met at Mint.com, is creating a retainer service that lets clients hire a team of researchers and designers.

Did ya hear? Infographics are the rage these days. But the downside is that the quality of infographics out there is generally horrible. Visual.ly, a startup, is hoping to solve that problem for anyone that wants to hire a good infographic designer. By providing a data warehouse, a reporting and editing team, and skilled designers, the hope is to provide one-stop shopping for anyone in need of infographics. As Stew Langille, Visual.ly's founding CEO, tells Co.Design, "We want to give what The New York Times has to anyone who wants it."

The New York Times, of course, is the New York Yankees of infographics, regularly producing some of the best in the world thanks to a team of reporters, coders, cartographers, and designers that numbers in the dozens. By contrast, most companies interested in, for example, promoting themselves through infographics, often rope in an ad-hoc team of "designers," and "data researchers" that have only a vague idea of how data can tell stories. (And thus you get horrible, horrible creations like this. Trust us. We get these in our inbox every day.) There is a vast gulf between the market for infographics, and talent often drafted to create them.

Infographics are a serious, growing business opportunity.

And yet infographics are a serious—and growing—business opportunity. Increasingly, companies see them as a way to create effective viral marketing, and some pay up to $30,000 for a single graphic, according to Langille. Instead, Visual.ly wants to offer its services up in a subscription model, providing its team to clients as needed for a monthly retainer fee. Already, Langille tells Co.Design, Visual.ly is in late-stage talks to partner with a media mega-company; further out, it hopes to work with others such as The Huffington Post or CNN.

Visual.ly's core team, including Langille, comes from Mint.com, which parlayed its data warehouse into an infographics blog that gets 1 million pageviews a day—a stunning amount of low-cost marketing, to a focused audience. (Their angel investors are also drawn from Mint's ranks.)

And therein lies a problem for the start-up: As the awareness of infographics and their power grows, they can expect a raft of competitors, both from within companies themselves, who have the funds to buy talent en masse and create their own infographic-marketing arms, and from media companies who realize the unexplored story-telling opportunities afforded by data visualization. "We'll have to be nimble," admits Langille. "As this market evolves, we'll have to evolve with it."

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    "...rope in an ad-hoc team of "designers," and "data researchers"
    that have only a vague idea of how data can tell stories. (And thus you
    get horrible, horrible creations like this...."

    I would be VERY surprised if any designers got anywhere near that graphic.