I'll bet that the last time you called a repairman to come fix something in your house, you were stuck with a bill in the ballpark of $250 and an annoying revelation: I could have done that. After all, the dude probably just pulled some tube from his truck and slotted in to your washing machine, taking all of five minutes to do so. (Note: This actually just happened to me.) The truth, of course, is that you probably could not have fixed the problem.
But not because the repair was hard. Rather, because you had no idea where to start—no idea how to diagnose a problem, and no idea how to fix it. Here's a problem (the problem of fixing problems) that infographics can actually help solve, as illustrated by this promising little experiment by PartSelect.com, a website that aims to make home repairs easy:
As you can see, the infographic shows typical problems with various appliances, such as a leaking washer. Then, it lists the parts that will likely fix the problem, along with a color coding of how difficult a repair might be.
Clearly, this infographic isn't comprehensive—the tool is fairly limited, and it doesn't have further layers that allow you to isolate a problematic part. But here's your free idea of the day: The infographic does suggest an entirely new sort of way to reach a customer.
The problem with big-box home improvement stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot is that you have to be pretty clear about what you're looking for. And thus, you have to already have a pretty developed technical knowledge to even shop for many of the things they actually carry. Infographics, however, could solve this. Imagine an online home-improvement retailer that was purely powered by visual maps like the one above. And imagine that these maps showed major appliances, including your own. Armed with functionality like that, I'll bet you could sell commodity parts at a premium. And I'll bet you could sell more of them, by attracting a broader customer base that you might ordinarily have.
To date, most of the infographics we see here are centered around information and entertainment—they're simply cool. But I would be really surprised if, in 15 years, infographics like the one above weren't powering an entirely new class of retail experience.