Design

10 posts
BellTopo Sans is is a free typeface based on maps from 1800s

While working on maps inspired by USGS maps from the 1800s, Sarah Bell made a typeface to match: While making my own USGS-inspired maps, my search never returned the exact type of font I was looking for. The fruitless search was serendipitous however, because it provided the push to make my own. It was designed for map labels that are no larger than 80-100pt, but usually much smaller. I decided...

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Habit-busting designs don’t work

The design changes that most frustrate users are those that bust their habits. Case in point. Apple re-designed the bottom navigator of the iphone mail app. See what it looked like before and what it looks like today: Notice how the 2nd slot from the bottom right used to be for replying, and after the re-design, it has become the button for deleting. So when I intended to reply to...

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Bubble charts, ratios and proportionality

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about a challenger to the dominant weedkiller, Roundup, contains a nice selection of graphics. (Dicamba is the up-and-comer.) The change in usage of three brands of weedkillers is rendered as a small-multiples of choropleth maps. This graphic displays geographical and time changes simultaneously. The staircase chart shows weeds have become resistant to Roundup over time. This is considered a weakness in the...

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✚ Technical Know-How is Part One (The Process #70)

There's a technical component of visualization that leans towards code, data formatting, and clicking the right buttons in the right order. Then there's everything else that makes okay charts into something much better. Read More

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Best visual illusion of the year

Our brains are pretty good at finding patterns, but it has some blindspots and then we get confused. The Illusion of the Year contest targets those blindspots. This year’s winner shows a rotating pattern that seems to switch axes depending on where you look. Tags: axes, illusion

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Conceptualizing a chart using Trifecta: a practical example

In response to the reader who left a comment asking for ideas for improving the "marginal abatements chart" that was discussed here, I thought it might be helpful to lay out the process I go through when conceptualizing a chart. (Just a reminder, here is the chart we're dealing with.) First, I'm very concerned about the long program names. I see their proper placement in a horizontal orientation as a...

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This chart tells you how rich is rich – if you can read it

Via twitter, John B. sent me the following YouGov chart (link) that he finds difficult to read: The title is clear enough: the higher your income, the higher you set the bar. When one then moves from the title to the chart, one gets misdirected. The horizontal axis shows pound values, so the axis naturally maps to "the higher your income". But it doesn't. Those pound values are the "cutoff"...

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How to read this cost-benefit chart, and why it is so confusing

Long-time reader Antonio R. found today's chart hard to follow, and he isn't alone. It took two of us multiple emails and some Web searching before we think we "got it".   Antonio first encountered the chart in a book review (link) of Hal Harvey et. al, Designing Climate Solutions. It addresses the general topic of costs and benefits of various programs to abate CO2 emissions. The reviewer praised the...

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Data life cycle

Summarizing a talk by Xaquín G.V., Natalie Gerhardstein for Delano: Among González’ takeaways were that, in order to avoid misunderstandings or bias in data visualisation, it helps to be aware of the pitfalls across the lifecycle–from collection through analysis, to the visualisation itself–and, of course, the final story the data is helping to tell. Question, for example, whether correlations being made are legitimate, be transparent and be aware of the...

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Making the most detailed map of auto emissions in America

Using estimates from the Database of Road Transportation Emissions, Nadja Popovich and Denise Lu for The New York Times mapped auto emissions at high granularity. Popovich described their process on Storybench: I want to make graphics that really resonate with people. If that is your goal as a visual journalist, something to think through is just how you can tie data back to a more human experience. To kind of...

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