Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Presenting data as pictures

I've spent some time on this blog covering successful representations of data (also here), not to mention some less successful efforts. Today's NY Times includes a review of a book, "Visual Strategies," intended to help people designing visual presentations of data.

The review is worth reading as one of your ten (only 10!) articles if you're not a subscriber. In case you want to skip it, here are the main lessons the reviewer pulls from the book:

¶ Consider how the graphic will be used, and by whom.
¶ Choose a design vernacular: Will you use cartoons, charts, sketches, photos or other elements?
¶ Organize the elements of your graphic and know how they relate to one another.
¶ Identify what’s essential (and, by implication, what can be dropped).
¶ Use color to draw attention, to label things that relate to one another or to express elements like scale.
¶ Add other variables as needed.
¶ Edit and refine. Reduce visual clutter. (Or as [Edward] Tufte once put it, realize that every drop of ink must be in there for a reason.)
If you want to dig a little deeper, go to the Visual Strategies website. I found this story, about the design of a cover story about new understanding of the proton for American Scientist magazine, particularly interesting for its discussion of the process -- including mistakes -- and how much the editors learned by talking with the graphic artists about the picture they were creating.

Screenshot via visual-strategies.org

No comments:

Popular Posts