Design

56 posts
Infographic design sins in meme form

Visual editor Xaquín G.V. recently used the distracted boyfriend meme to represent our attraction to novel visualization methods when a simple and visually sound method is right there at our disposal. Then he ran with it to illustrate his professional sins as an editor for a news desk. Tags: meme, sins

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This one takes time to make, takes even more time to read

Reader Matt F. contributed this confusing chart from Wired, accompanying an article about Netflix viewing behavior.  Matt doesn't like this chart. He thinks the main insight - most viewers drop out after the first episode - is too obvious. And there are more reasons why the chart doesn't work. This is an example of a high-effort, low-reward chart. See my return-on-effort matrix for more on this subject. The high effort...

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The art of arranging bars

Twitter friend Janie H. asked how I would visualize a hypothetical third column of this chart that contains the change from 2016 to 2017: This table records the results from a survey question by eMarketer, asking respondents ("marketers") to identify their top 5 technology priorities in the next 12 months. I suggested the following: A hype-chasing phenomemon is clearly at play. Internet of Things and wearable technology are so last...

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Some like it packed, some like it piled, and some like it wrapped

In addition to Xan's "packed bars" (which I discussed here), there are some related efforts to improve upon the treemap. To recap, treemap is a design to show parts against the whole, and it works by packing rectangles into the bounding box. Frequently, this leads to odd-shaped rectangles, e.g. really thin and really tall ones, and it asks readers to estimate relative areas of differently-scaled boxes. We often make mistakes...

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Criticism vs. Creation

Filmmaker Kevin Smith talks about making things versus critiquing them. He’s talking about movies, but you can so easily plug in visualization. I just kept nodding yes. [via swissmiss] Tags: criticism

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Data exploration banned

Statistician John Tukey, who coined Exploratory Data Analysis, talked a lot about using visualization to find meaning in your data. You don’t always know what you’re looking, so you explore it visually. Etyn Adar, who teaches information visualization at the University of Michigan, makes a good case for banning the phrase in his students’ project proposals. For all the clever names he created for things (software, bit, cepstrum, quefrency) what’s...

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Use dual axes with care, if at all

Dual axes, where there are two value scales in a single chart, are almost never a good idea. As a reader, you should always question the source when you see a chart that uses such scales. Zan Armstrong explains with a recent example. One of the best descriptions I’ve heard for data viz is that: when the data is different, the viz should look different and when the data is...

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Data bias at every step

Lena Groeger for ProPublica describes when the designer shows up in the design, not just in the visualization part but also in collection, selection, and aggregation. Our perspective always comes to play. The effects may be subtle, but if we pour so much of ourselves into the stories we tell, the data we gather, the visuals we design, the webpages we build, then we should take responsibility for them. And...

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Interactive visualization is still alive

Phew. Close call. New York Times graphics editor Gregor Aisch noted during a talk that 85 percent of readers didn’t click on the buttons of a popular interactive. So Dominikus Baur pondered the usefulness of interaction. The answer was yes. It’s all about purpose. To clarify, Aisch recently came back to the 85 percent figure. Knowing that the majority of readers doesn’t click buttons does not mean you shouldn’t use...

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Motion design patterns

Issara Willenskomer talks in detail about the use of animation in UX design with a focus on twelve specific patterns. Different types of motion can represent different things. It’s easy to see how this applies to visualization. Tags: motion

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