Design

135 posts
Large collection of optical illusions and visual phenomena

Sometimes our eyes play tricks on us. Michael Bach has an extensive collection of 141 optical illusions, along with explanations of why your visual system is tripping up: Optical illusion sounds derogative, as if exposing a malfunction of the visual system. Rather, I view these phenomena as highlighting particular good adaptations of our visual system to experience with standard viewing situations. These experiences are based on normal visual conditions, and...

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Book Review: Visualizing with Text by Richard Barth

The creative process is sometimes described in terms of diverge-converge cycles. The diverge step involves experimentation and rewards suspending disbelief, while excesses are curbed and concepts refined during the converge step. Richard Brath's just-released book Visualizing with Text is an important resource that expands our appreciation for the place of text in visual displays. Books on data visualization fall into recognizable types, of which two popular ones are the style...

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Election map challenges

For NYT Opinion, Betsy Mason outlines the design challenges behind election maps. Do you show geography? Do you focus on scale? What colors should you use? For every choice, there’s always tradeoffs, which is why there are so many views. Tags: Betsy Mason, challenge, electoral, New York Times

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Colour Controversy is a game of perception and labeling

Colour Controversy is a simple game that shows you a shade and asks you what color it is. The fun part is that the shades are usually in between two colors, say blue and green, and you can only choose one. A running tally is kept so that you can see the “most controversial” colors. Tags: color, game, perception

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What states are doing to make mail-in ballots clearer

Mail-in ballots can be rejected if they’re not filled out or mailed correctly. A small percentage of them always are. This year, when we’re talking millions of mail-in ballots, even a small percentage means a lot of tossed ballots. For NYT’s The Upshot, Larry Buchanan and Alicia Parlapiano show how some states modified the design of their ballots to reduce the rejections. Tags: ballots, election, Upshot, voting

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Election visual 3: a strange, mash-up visualization

Continuing our review of FiveThirtyEight's election forecasting model visualization (link), I now look at their headline data visualization. (The previous posts in this series are here, and here.) It's a set of 22 maps, each showing one election scenario, with one candidate winning. What chart form is this? Small multiples may come to mind. A small-multiples chart is a grid in which every component graphic has the same form -...

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Telling stories in visual, data-driven essays

For The Pudding, Ilia Blinderman rounds out his three-part series on creating visual, data-driven essays. This last part in on the fuzziest task of telling stories: Storytelling, however, is much more abstract — it’s not merely a technical matter of creating an image of a map, or designing the right chart; rather, it refers to the broader universe of considerations that impact nearly every decision you make in the way...

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Picking the right colors for your charts

Picking colors for your charts can be tricky, especially when you’re starting a palette from scratch. For Datawrapper, Lisa Charlotte Rost has been writing guides on color as it pertains to political parties, gender, and more recently, colorblindness. Rost put the pieces together for a single, more comprehensive guide on the subject. Be sure to check out Rost’s other guides on making better charts. She has a knack for explaining...

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Visualizing periodicity with animations

Pierre Ripoll provides several ways to visualize periodicity using animation. Moving dots, rotating spheres, concentric circles, oh my. He uses D3.js and it’s an Observable notebook, so you can see what’s going on under the hood. Tags: animation, d3js, periodicity, Pierre Ripoll

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Everlasting pie chart

Manuel Lima goes into the history of the pie chart, or rather, circle representations in general. Despite many people poo-pooing the chart type over the decades, it keeps hanging around: We might think of the pie chart as a fairly recent invention, with arguably more flaws than benefits, in regards to the statistical portrayal of data. However, if we look deep into history we realize this popular chart is only...

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