At least it is according to CloudCheckr, who published the “In the Cloud Forest” infographic below. For those of you who don’t know, CloudCheckr is a service that will analyze your Amazon Web Service accounts and show you where you’re doing it wrong, to help reduce confusion, save money, keep your info up 24/7, and make sure it’s all secure.
My first problem with this infographic is that CloudCheckr assumes that everyone knows what I’ve just told you, dear reader. This assumption betrays THE WHOLE POINT of social media in general, and of infographics in particular, which is to create content that can be shared, preferably as widely as possible. CloudCheckr, how likely is it that someone who isn’t familiar with your services will see this infographic? PRETTY DAMN LIKELY (I’m sorry, I’m yelling). But really, you are shooting yourselves in the foot by making your content completely opaque to everyone who sees it that isn’t already aware of your company. You have a space that is just begging to be filled with a pithy blurb about who you are, what you do, and why everyone should think you’re covered in awesome—it’s called a subtitle, and you don’t have one. Fail.
I beg any higher power that exists to smite everyone who uses ill-planned, nonsensical themes for their infographics. Every time I see one of these themed monstrosities, I am minded of every wanna-be stage director who decided that it would be “novel” and “make a statement” to set Mac Beth in 1930s Berlin, or the Old West. It’s not new, it’s not edgy, and it just confuses everyone. If you’re not working at the level of Kenneth Branagh, then you probably can’t pull it off.
Please. Just. STAHP.
In this case, the design is a dark jungle. It has creepy-ish, dramatic shadow lettering and dark blues and blacks as the foundation colors (like the TV show “Lost”–because you know, that is the first connection everyone makes with AWS). The graphic design is technically okay, but not great. On the whole, I think that the mish-mash of shadowy-creepiness and the wildly divergent stylings of the symbols used to represent the data is pretty ugly.
(ETA: one reader pointed out that this theme might be a play on “Amazon Rain Forest.” I will give CloudCheckr the benefit of the doubt, but that doesn’t really make anything else about it any better.)
The Data Elements
What is this whole thing about? What is the “Cloud Forest,” and why do I care? You have to go all the way to the bottom of the graphic to see that it’s the “results of a survey of 400 CloudCheckr customers with 10 or more EC2 instances.” Ohhhhhh-kaaaaayyyy… thanks for letting us know that. Unless you know that EC2 is Amazon Web Services, you’d still have no idea what you’re looking at, though. So as an explanation, this little tidbit is sorely lacking.
Why is cost at the top of the tree? Are these the highest rate of exceptions found? Is it volume? Answer: I don’t freaking know. When you use a theme that has a natural hierarchy built in (top of tree=most important, or what grows from below), then you only serve to make people wonder what they’re missing. Bad UX.
The two by-category sections of cost exceptions are both spidery, so at least that’s consistent. But one of them has no discernible rhyme nor reason—it’s just some dots and links—hell, the lines don’t even line up with the text.
The cost per category—what does the percentage mean? That would be best as a comparison TO the percentage of instances by category—as it is, they’ve just calculated how much the dollars are as a percentage. I could estimate that in my head without any problems, or they could have used the relative sizes to make it visually obvious.
And speaking of visually obvious: what is up with the “common cost exceptions” section?!? I HATE THIS. The 17% snake head is larger than the loop that represents 35% of the total. It should be pretty obvious that people will think that bigger things are bigger, and not fulfilling that expectation is a major fail.
More of the same, although here it’s birds, monkeys, and flowers that make no sense either thematically or representatively. One particular favorite of mine: the subhead says
98% of users experienced AT LEAST one exception (emphasis theirs).
With AT LEAST one exception, I want to know how many people had more than one. I want to know which ones were most common in conjunction with which other one. I want actual actionable information.
Also, how do birds, monkeys, and flowers relate to one another?
There is asphalt in the cloud forest—who would have thought it?
My take? I think that if I were in systems architecture, knowing that my company or client was allowing EVERYONE in the world write/delete permissions for their S3 buckets, I would find that a little more important than just a trail of ants on the jungle floor.
As I’ve been writing this, it’s been harder and harder to make myself switch tabs to actually look at the graphic. I think that alone should speak volumes. It’s unattractive, nonsensical, and doesn’t even explain itself well to the people who already know what they’re talking about. Woe betide the unsuspecting visitor to the CloudCheckr Cloud Forest.