About
Randy Krum
President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization and Infographic Design

Infographic Design

Infographics Design | Presentations
Consulting | Data Visualizations

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Caffeine Poster

The Caffeine Poster infographic

Friday
May052017

Six Maps that Show America’s Infrastructure

Tim Meko, a graphic reported at the Washington Post, designs some fantastic data visualizations. Six Maps that Show the Anatomy of America’s Vast Infrastructure is a great visual exploration of what makes America run. Check out the original article for more explanation of each map and more visual details.

Found on FlowingData

Thursday
May042017

Evolution of the Game Console

Evolution of the Game Console infographic

The Evolution of the Game Console infographic from OnBuy.com remembers our childhood with a timeline of the last 18 major game consoles.

Bound to bring back fond childhood memories, (for most of us!) our infographic takes you through the fascinating evolution of the home games console. Dating back to 1972 when the Magnavox Odyssey was released, our infographic will guide you through the technological advancements of the last 45 years, right up to Microsoft’s 4K-ready Project Scorpio, set to launch in December 2017.

Intrigued? We bet! Now, kick back, relax and enjoy the wonderful world of gaming.

As much as I like the content and remembering playing on the consoles, this timeline is not well designed. It's not that hard to actually line up the consoles with the correct years instead of just showing them in pairs no matter what the dates are. Why even bother putting them into chronological order if you're not going to line them up correctly?

For businesses, a timeline history of their industry is a great topic idea for an infographic.

Thanks to David for sending in the link!

Tuesday
May022017

A History of Space Travel infographic poster

A History of Space Travel is a new infographic poster from Pop Chart Lab that covers the spacecraft, launch vehicles, space suits and mission timelines from countries all over Earth. Prints of this 24"x36" poster are available for $35 unframed, or more for framed options.

Make some space on your wall for our second infographic foray into the final frontier! This timeline of crewed space missions maps out over 400 extraterrestrial expeditions, spanning 1961 to present day. From the inaugural space race of Vostok vs. Mercury to the famed Apollo program to the International Space Station, this giant leap of a chart features stellar annotations for each mission, including full-color illustrations of all spacesuits and spacecraft. A simply stunning celestial survey, this chronicling of cosmic voyages is sure to have starry-eyed enthusiasts totally over the moon.

Wednesday
Apr262017

Visualizing Climate Change

Climate Change is Rewriting the History Books is an infographic from Climate Central that uses a heatmap design style to show how average temperatures have changed over the last 137 years.

This March clocked in as the second warmest March on record when compared to the 20th century average, according to newly released data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NASA data published last week came to the same conclusion, comparing temperatures to a 1951-1980 baseline.

The NOAA data shows the planet was 1.9°F (1.05°C) above the 20th century average for March, the first time any month has breached the 1°C threshold in the absence of El Niño. This March is the latest freakishly hot month following three years in a row of record heat.

NOAA and NASA baselines don’t really tell the whole story. How much the world has warmed since pre-industrial times is a crucial measuring stick for international climate talks and a more accurate representation of how much climate change is altering the planet.

Using the baseline of 1881-1910, a new, more dire picture of global warming emerges. This March was 2.4°F (1.3°C) above the pre-industrial average by that measure. More notably, this March marks a whopping 627 months in a row of warmer than normal temperatures. If you were born after December 1964, you’ve never experienced a month cooler than average on this planet.

To understand what that looks like, take a peek at the global temperature chart below. Each month is represented by a box. Cool blues have been disappearing, replaced by a wave of unending heat. Climate change is likely to continue the streak of warmer than normal months into the foreseeable future as temperatures keep marching upward.

There are a few things about this design worth commenting on:

  • I'm accepting the data from NASA and NOAA at face value, because this blog discusses the visual communication and design of data. However, I can't find the data they used. It would be helpful if they provided the final data they used to build the visualization. Provide a spreadsheet with the data as an act of data transparency.
  • This looks like a great use of the Conditional Formatting capability in Microsoft Excel. If it wasn't designed in Excel, it easily could be.
  • Heatmaps or choropleth maps (ie. using color hue, density, shading, opacity, or saturation) are impossible for the reader to differentiate the exact difference between the values. You can get a general impression, but this is at the bottom of the Scale of Graphical Perception
  • In a heatmap, the designer chooses the minimum and maximum values, and the data dictates all of the actual color saturations shown for each month. The minimum would be solid blue, the midpoint would be white and the maximum value would be solid red.
  • In this case, the chart colors start near the average, not the minimum value. So, all of the months from 1881-1910 are very close to white because these are the values that were used to calculate the midpoint
  • The maximum temperature value is 1.9° higher than the average, and that value is shown as the fully saturated red color. This is a choice by the designer, and makes the average temperatures in the highest months visually appear as very dramatic.
  • This is the default setting for a function like Conditional Formatting. It takes the maximum value in a given dataset, and correlates that to the maximum color saturation. It's up to the designer to decide if this default setting is correct for visualizing the data.

 

 

  • The article suggests that the trend will continue with warmer temperatures in the future, so an alternate choice the designer could make is to set the maximum color saturation to something like 10°F over the Baseline. The current temperatures would look much less dramatic, but it would allow for future higher temperatures to be displayed on the same scale.

 

The choices a data visualization designer makes has a huge impact on how the data is perceived by the audience!

Monday
Apr242017

Cool Infographics Book in Chinese!

I was finally able to get my own printed copy of the Chinese translated version of the Cool Infographics book! According to my publisher, Wiley, it has been translated into Simplified Chinese, and Orthodox Chinese, Korean and Russian versions are still in the works. The Chinese version is available in the US through Amazon.

Of course, the only way I can tell what the Chinese translation says is to translate it back into English with the Google Translate app. They translated the title "Cool Infographics" into 可视化沟通, which translates back to English as "Visual Communication". I know the app isn't perfect, but you can get the general meaning.

Just under 5% of the Cool Infographics web traffic comes from China, so I know there are a lot of fans there.

 

I had to work with the Wiley editors to get the chapter colors to show up along the page edges. My thoughts were that it's a visual communication book, and you should be able to find the chapters visually! The translated version got that right too:

 

 

Friday
Apr212017

534 Apple Products On One Giant Poster

534 Apple Products on One Giant Poster are included in The Insanely Great History of Apple 3.0 poster from Pop Chart Lab. It is the new and improved list of all Apple products ever made! You can buy a 28"x 42" print of the infographic here.

Newly refreshed with recent Apple products including the 9.7" iPad Pro and the iPhone SE, the world's most comprehensive mapping of Apple products is back just in time for Apple's 40th Anniversary--and is now printed on demand on beautiful exhibition canvas! This classic gallery of proprietary gadgets displays every computer, handheld, peripheral, software, and operating system released by Apple from 1976 onward. Over 500 items in all, chronicling how Apple has invented—and reinvented—insanely great products.

What's more, this canvas print comes bundled with laser-engraved System 6 Window Bar Rails for a throwback-OS mounting solution.

Found on Fast Company Design!

Tuesday
Apr182017

Big Data Bootcamp in Dallas May 5-7

I'll be giving my talk "What is Good DataViz Design?" at the Big Data Bootcamp in Dallas, May 5-7, 2017 at the Irving Convention Center. There will be other fantastic speakers as well, including Barrret Clark, author of the Data Visualization Toolkit, which is this month's giveaway!

For anyone interested in attending the entire event, get $200 OFF your registration cost by using the discount code DFWDATAVIZ and this LINK. The discount is good for registrations until April 27th.

Monday
Apr172017

Interview about DataViz & Infographics Design

 

Expert Interview – Data Visualization & Infographics

Last week I was interviewed for a new article by Dade Paper all about Data Visualization and Infographics design. The interview covered some of the best reasons to use infographics for marketing and advice for anyone that wants to start using infographics as a part of their marketing strategy.

Check out the full interview HERE 

Friday
Apr142017

The Best Times to Post to Social Networks

The Best Times to Post to Social Networks infographic

When you are promoting your product through social media platforms, you want to make sure you are setting yourself up for success. First Site Guide has published the The Best Times to Post to Social Media infographic cheat sheet gives you data on the daily high traffic times of each platform to increase the likelihood of your post being seen. It also gives tips on times to send emails based on your content. 

Social media’s all about throwing the metaphorical spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks, right? No. No, it’s not! Chances are good you saw that twist coming, but this First Site Guide cheat sheet is all about why time and type matter on social media. Believe it or not, there is a rhythm and a pulse to the tweets and the posts, and patterns of sharing and engaging with content which can be examined scientifically.

Why should you care, though? Well, as it turns out, knowledge is power and someone who knows when to post, where to post, what to post, and how often to post gets a lot more bang for their buck than someone who just sporadically adds random content to whichever social media platform has their attention.

Knowing your audience is an important part of the process. Did you know that emails containing news and magazine updates get opened more often during the lunch hour, but holiday promotions are best sent in the evenings?

There's some really good information here that was gathered from a number of different sources. However, I have a handful of serious issues with this design:

  • Is this data credible? I can't tell from what is shared on the infographic itself. The Sources link is just a shortened URL, so no visibility to where the sources of the data.
  • The Sources link is a downloadable Word DOC from a Russian cloud stoage site. The document includes nine links to data sources, but many of them are broken links.
  • Is the data visualization, I'm guessing the wider sections of the stream are the better times to post. There's no explanation.
  • For the Email section, the time wheel has the days and nights reversed (AM vs. PM). We don't all go to sleep for six hours after lunch.
  • A couple of text typos in the infographic.
  • The footer should include a copyright and the URL to the original infographic landing page so readers can find the full-size original when people don't share the actual link.
  • How do time zones play into these times and scheduling posts?

Thanks to Peter for sending in the link!

Monday
Apr032017

The Data Visualization Toolkit signed book giveaway

For the April Giveaway, I have a signed copy of the Data Visualization Toolkit by Barrett Clark.  Register on the Giveaways Page by April 30th to be entered. 

From Amazon:
Data Visualization Toolkit is your hands-on, practical, and holistic guide to the art of visualizing data. You’ll learn how to use Rails, jQuery, D3, Leaflet, PostgreSQL, and PostGIS together, creating beautiful visualizations and maps that give your data a voice and to make it “dance.”
 
Barrett Clark teaches through real-world problems and examples developed specifically to illuminate every technique you need to generate stunningly effective visualizations. You’ll move from the absolute basics toward deep dives, mastering diverse visualizations and discovering when to use each. Along the way, you’ll build three start-to-finish visualization applications, using actual real estate, weather, and travel datasets.
 
Clark addresses every component of data visualization: your data, database, application server, visualization libraries, and more. He explains data transformations; presents expert techniques in JavaScript, Ruby, and SQL; and illuminates key concepts associated with both descriptive statistics and geospatial data. Throughout, everything is aimed at one goal: to help you cut through the clutter and let your data tell all it can.

Barrett recently gave a talk called "Making Data Dance" at the DFW DataViz Meetup event, and I had a chance to ask him a few quesitons:

What does it mean to make your data "Dance”?

Barrett Clark: I think data wants to tell a story. Our job is to figure out what that story is and how to best present it. Seeing the data in a visual way can make it come to life and dance.

 

Who is the book written for?

Barrett Clark: Data Visualization Toolkit focuses on looking at data from the perspective of a web developer. More specifically, I speak from the perspective of a developer writing Ruby on Rails apps. There is a fair amount of JavaScript and SQL throughout the book, and I try to explain what I am doing throughout the text. My goal was to make a book that is accessible to anyone while still giving more experienced developers something valuable.

 

Can readers get all of the data and code you reference in the book?

Barrett Clark: Absolutely! There are 3 different applications that readers will build throughout the book. The code and data for the applications are available on GitHub at http://DataVisualizationToolkit.com. I also have checkpoints throughout the text where you can see what the application should look like at that point. Those are enumerated in the README for each application.

 

Why do you prefer PostgreSQL as your database platform of choice?

Barrett Clark: I have worked with several databases. PostgreSQL, or Postgres as it is often called, is by far my favorite. It is a robust database that is easy to use, has a wide array of functions and data types, and is also extendable. You can easily add to the functionality of a Postgres database with an extension. In fact, the core database ships with dozens of extensions that you don't need to install. PostGIS, which allows you to store geospatial data and perform geospatial queries, is one of my favorite extensions.

 

Why is the database and transforming your data before your create the visualizations so important?

Barrett Clark: I have seen very few data sets where you can take data directly from the database into a chart -- especially with transactional data. You can perform the data transformations in the database using SQL, in the application server using the application's prorgamming language, or in the browser using JavaScript. Databases are really good at dealing with data, so I encourage people to not be afraid to write SQL to pull out the data in the format that you need it.

 

What are the challenges for visualizing data on websites?

Barrett Clark: Speed. When you have a lot of data you need to be thoughtful about how quickly you can get the data and display it in a meaningful way. This may require some additional setup to store data for reporting in a separate format so that you don't have to do the transformations in real time. Another challenge is that you have no control over the end user's viewing experience. Something that you think looks brilliant on your laptop may look awful on someone else's screen.

 

What’s different about visualizing geospatial data?

Barrett Clark: Geospatial data is a lot of fun! When you add location to the mix you open up a whole new arena of things that you can do visually with your data, and questions that you can ask of the data. I love maps. I take readers through the creation of one of my favorite types of map -- the choropleth. That's where you color areas (counties, states, etc) in a map based on the data.

 

Are your visualizations mostly static or interactive data visualizations?

Barrett Clark: There are some mouseover effects in my visualizations that help add more context to the graph or highlight something.

 

What are your thoughts on D3.js and its future?

Barrett Clark: I love D3, and I also love what Mike Bostock has done to build such a deep assortment of examples. Between the examples and the documentation I find D3 really fun to work with. The library is also very actively maintained. As soon as I shipped Data Visualization Toolkit a new version of D3 dropped. There are branches in all 3 sample project repositories on GitHub with the updates required for D3v4.

 

Are you speaking at any upcoming presentations or webinars?

Barrett Clark: In the past few months I've spoken at PGConf Silicon Valley in San Francisco and RubyConf Australia in Melbourne. I'll be taking a break from travel for a bit and focusing on local meetups. I try to get out to the Dallas Ruby meetups whenever possible.

 

What’s the best place to follow you online?

Barrett Clark: I'm @barrettclark on Twitter.