You know, I would really love to quit my day job and spend my time learning about information visualization, write about it, help people understand why good information visualization skills are relevant for their business.
Now, I could try to speed up things by selling some crappy affiliate products, fill up the blog with Google ads or use some other “business model” internet marketers love. But that’s definitely not my model. I’m selling my Excel Dashboard Tutorial and writing an information visualization ebook. That’s what I like to do and that’s what I want to be paid for. And I’d like to promote good products (Jon’s Chart Utilities, Bonavista’s Microcharts or Tableau, for example) if I had the time to do it properly. But you’ll never see Google ads in my blog.
The Fart Machine
Displaying Google ads is a dangerous game that I don’t want to play. Here is an example. I was visiting an information visualization blog when I saw, right below the post title, a very visual “Online Fart Machine” ad (no, not the one above). I’m sure the blogger wouldn’t be pleased to see this kind of visuals in his blog, but that’s the risk of running Google ads.
This is what first time readers see when they arrive at your blog. It hurts your message, your credibility and probably your future income.
The Trojan Horse
It’s not the fart machine only. Since you have no or little control over Google ads, you may end up sending contradictory signals to your readers: you write about best practices, but your ads act like a Trojan Horse, advertising the worst possible practices. I see this all the time.
3D effects, backgrounds and shinny textures are well-known examples of chartjunk. I’ll call them the “regular chartjunk”. There is also the “premium chartjunk”. Every time you add clipart to your charts and presentations (because it’s funny or cute) you’re entering the realm of the premium chartjunk.
How can you avoid premium chartjunk? Remove any clipart and any kitten images and pictures and please, please, make sure you know what your audience defines as “bad taste”.
(And unless there is a very bizarre lateral thinking going on, I’m pretty sure a fart machine will not speed up your promotion or bring visits to your blog.)
Photo Credit: Chris Devers