Infographic: The Idiot’s Guide to the S&P Downgrade


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This infographic was submitted to us by Visible Technologies.

Good organization, clean design and an attractive color palette make this infographic pretty appealing. It’s quite well put together visually, and has lots of fine details that make it interesting to look at. All the fine lines remind me of those on money. There are thorough explanations of every term and event, making this a true “idiot’s guide.” If you didn’t know anything about Standard & Poor’s going in, you do now.

There are extremely valid reasons why this infographic should be text heavy… but unfortunately, it’s completely overrun by text. The designer tried to overcome this by adding a sort of line graph for the different ratings and a winding timeline for “How Did We Get Here,” but this infographic is all about reading. There are no percentages, no numbers… nothing that’s a candidate for data viz, and that’s a problem for infographics. The only number seems to be the $5 trillion that was added to our national debt between the years 2001 and 2008.

(Quick note: in the first paragraph is written United State’s where it should be United States’.)

Some ideas of information to add that would lend itself to data viz: the percentage of countries with each credit rating, the country with the longest number of years at AAA rating, the countries with most and least amount of debt, national debt in proportion to GDP… there are lots of opportunities to be had to break up the monotony of all the text. This might make this what we call a “super infographic,” because all of the text serves a pretty good purpose, but it would make it just that much more informative and tell that much more of a complete story. As is it’s beautiful, but it’s just too much text with no balance, and I’d give this infographic a C.

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