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Data Visualization and Infographic Design

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Wednesday
Nov232016

Better Presentations by Jon Schwabish: Interview & Giveaway

Better Presentations by Jon Schwabish: Interview & Giveaway

Better Presentations: A Guide for Scholars, Researchers, and Wonks is a great new book by Jon Schwabish from the newly redesigned PolicyViz! I'm especially excited about the chapter all about data visualization in presentations!

This December, I am giving away one signed copy of Better Presentations! Register on the Giveaways Page by December 31st to be entered.

 Whether you are a university professor, researcher at a think tank, graduate student, or analyst at a private firm, chances are that at some point you have presented your work in front of an audience. Most of us approach this task by converting a written document into slides, but the result is often a text-heavy presentation saddled with bullet points, stock images, and graphs too complex for an audience to decipher―much less understand. Presenting is fundamentally different from writing, and with only a little more time, a little more effort, and a little more planning, you can communicate your work with force and clarity.

Designed for presenters of scholarly or data-intensive content, Better Presentations details essential strategies for developing clear, sophisticated, and visually captivating presentations. Following three core principles―visualize, unify, and focus―Better Presentations describes how to visualize data effectively, find and use images appropriately, choose sensible fonts and colors, edit text for powerful delivery, and restructure a written argument for maximum engagement and persuasion. With a range of clear examples for what to do (and what not to do), the practical package offered in Better Presentations shares the best techniques to display work and the best tactics for winning over audiences. It pushes presenters past the frustration and intimidation of the process to more effective, memorable, and persuasive presentations.

Everyone should follow Jon Schwabish on Twitter (@jschwabish) and check out all the great resources on PolicyViz!

 

Jon answered a bunch of questions I sent him about visualizing data and the new book:

Who is the book intended for?

Jon Schwabish: I wrote the book for people who deliver data-rich content—researchers, scholars, analysts—anyone who works with data and who needs to present it to an audience. In my experience, many people who work with data and conduct research simply take their written reports and convert them to presentations—they copy their graphs and tables and paste them into a slide, and turn their text into bullet points. But there is a better way and it starts with recognizing that a written report and a presentation are two fundamentally different forms of communication. The goal of this book is to help presenters all the way through the process: From presentation construction and design, to building the presentation, to ultimately delivering the presentation.

What makes presenting so different from writing?

Jon Schwabish: The differences between writing and presenting are clearest when you think carefully about the audience. When your reader sits down with your paper, she has the opportunity to read the notes and footnotes, decipher the labels on your charts, even perhaps work through your equations. When you present, however, your audience does not have that opportunity: They are bound to your pace and content. If you fill your slides with text and bullet points, equations, and complex, detailed graphs, your audience will strain to follow you and understand your message.

There are also (or at least there should be) similarities between the two—at least when it comes to your preparation. We are all taught in grade school to set out an outline when we write a book report. Yet, we rarely do this when it comes to presentations. In the book, I propose that presenters develop their presentation before they start making slides. I walk through this outlining process and provide a worksheet that readers can use to help them outline and develop their presentation.

What should readers expect to learn and apply to their own presentations?

Jon Schwabish: The book takes you through the entire process of planning, designing, and delivering your presentation by following three guiding principles:

  • Visualize your content. We are better able to grasp and retain information through pictures than through just words, so visualize your content when you can; this includes text, statistics, and numbers whenever possible.
  • Unify the elements of your presentation. This means consistency in your use of colors and fonts, format of your slides, and integrating what you say with what you show.
  • Focus your audience’s attention where you want it at all times. Instead of putting up as much information as possible on every slide, keep your slides simple and free of clutter so that you can direct your audience’s attention. Here, I demonstrate a technique I call Layering—presenting each piece of information on its own. Together, the points come back to the original, but are now presented in more effective way for the audience. 

These three guidelines are applied to different slide elements such as text, images, and data visualizations. in the latter sections of the book, I talk about tools and technologies to create and deliver presentations.

What are the key mistakes people make in their presentations?

Jon Schwabish: I think many people view their presentation as a simple translation of their written report to slides, but again, a presentation is a fundamentally different form of communication than a report. Presenters need to put their audience first—think about how difficult it’s going to be for them to absorb your content and buy into your message as you zip through bullet after bullet, slide after slide, dense table after table.

The other big mistake people make is to not practice their presentation before they deliver it. You can practice your 15-minute conference presentation four times in an hour, which is probably four more times than anyone else at the conference. And it will show! The more you practice—actually, rehearse is probably a better term—the more familiar you will be with your content, which will reduce the need for text- and bullet-point heavy presentation. Practicing moves you away from the natural inclination to include lots of text on your slides. 

 Why is visualizing data and information in a presentation so important?

Jon Schwabish: There is a long research history that demonstrates we are more likely to grasp and retain information through pictures than just through words (typically known as the “Picture Superiority Effect”). By visualizing information, you make it easier for your audience to grasp your content and remember it. Visualizing data may be even more important in a presentation because, again, your audience is bound to your pace and how you present your data through graph choice, color, and layout.

There is a long chapter in the book on how to create effective data visualizations for presentations. I walk through basic data visualization principles and outline ways to effective communicate those data in a presentation. I demonstrate ways you can apply the Layering technique to graphs, by showing one data series at a time. But you don’t need to just Layer data—if you’re showing a more complex graph (or perhaps a graph type that is new for your audience), for example, you can start by just showing and defining the axes, and then sequentially add your data. In this way, you have defined the graphic space for the audience so they are prepared for what comes next.

What are your thoughts on animated slide transitions and/or clicking to reveal different pieces of information on a slide? 

Jon Schwabish: I’m generally not a big fan of animated slide transitions, especially the good ol’ Blinds and Checkerboard in PowerPoint and other tools. They tend to look cheesy and immature. That being said, I have found some of the “morphing” animations—Magic Move in Keynote and Morph in the newest versions of PowerPoint—to be quite useful. Say, for example, you want to walk your audience through an infographic. With these morphing animations, you can show the entire infographic and then seamlessly zoom in and scroll through the infographic on the screen. These sorts of techniques can be especially useful when you need to show the audience the full visual and then zoom in so they can see the details.

You also recently gave your presentation at a TED event. Can you share your experience?

Jon Schwabish: I spoke at the TEDxJNJ (Johnson & Johnson) event in Philadelphia. I was invited months earlier and even though I basically knew what I wanted to present right off the bat, it was a long haul to get the message just right and get the slides in great shape. I spent countless hours refining my message (especially the beginning and end), tweaking the slides, and practicing the talk.

When you’re invited to give a TEDx talk, you’re assigned a ‘coach’ who helps you develop your talk and design your visuals. We had weekly calls as I kept tweaking my message, content, and slides; I would send her audio recordings of my practice runs; and we would walk through slide design options. Just having someone who knew my content, my slides, and my struggles was invaluable. I typically try to rehearse my presentations in front of a live audience (and many of my co-workers at the Urban Institute sat in as I practiced the TEDx talk), but this experience really made me realize how valuable it is to have someone to help bounce ideas, concepts, and design off of.

Standing on that big red circle with the TEDx sign behind me was an incredible experience, and I’m thankful that people find my message value and of interest, and that I can communicate that to them in an engaging way.

Is there a website to go along with the book?

Jon Schwabish: Yes, my newly-redesigned website PolicyViz, has a whole section dedicated to the book (http://policyviz.com/better-presentations/).In that section of the site, you will find presentation, design, and data visualization resources including blogs, books, and tools. I’ve also included a section of Book Materials that you can download for your own use. In that section, I’ve included a Better Presentations Supplies Checklist that includes the technical things you may need when you go out and present. I’ve also included a Better Presentations Worksheet (the focus of Chapter 1), which will help guide your outline and organization. I’ve also included downloadable slides, icons, color palettes, and more.

Where’s the best place to follow you online?

Jon Schwabish: You can follow me on my newly-redesigned website, PolicyViz.com, which now hosts my blog, podcast, shop, and HelpMeViz project. I’m also active on the Urban Institute blog, Urban Wire, and have a researcher page there as well. I’m most active on Twitter, and you can easily find me there @jschwabish.

 

Jon's Bio

Jon Schwabish is an economist, writer, teacher, and creator of policy-relevant data visualizations. He is considered a leading voice for clarity and accessibility in how researchers communicate their findings. His new book Better Presentations: A Guide for Scholars, Researchers, and Wonks helps people improve the way they prepare, design, and deliver data-rich content. He is on Twitter @jschwabish

 

Monday
Aug082016

23 Reasons to Get Excited About Data (Free eBook)

23 Reasons to Get Excited About Data IBM eBook

The team at IBM Watson Analytics has released a free, new eBook 23 Reasons to Get Excited About Data that explores the latest trends, practical applications and predictions about big data. I'm honored to have been included in the book as an expert on data visualization, along with all of the other IBM Watson Analytics applications!

These days, everyone’s tossing around the term “big data.” The term is nothing new – businesses have been collecting and analyzing data since the 1950s, before the two words were ever even uttered. Take a look back in time and you’re likely to see someone laboriously poring over a sheaf of spreadsheets, manually going through row after row to identify trends and gain insights.

More people are doing more things – personally and professionally – with data, and best practices will continue to develop. Self-serve, more democratized data analytics will Get Bigger, Get Faster and Get Cloudier!

I participated in an IBM video series about big data and visualization that you can see HERE. Data visualization is such an important conponent for humans to the analyze data, discover insights and communicate our findings to others! I'm very passionate about helping people understand how important data visualization truly is! Here are a couple of the thoughts I contributed to the ebook:

Humans are visual creatures. We can process visual information extremely fast, and are 6.5 times more likely to remember visual information than text. These are incredibly important facts when you are trying to communicate data to others. Use data visualizations to help your audience understand your information, and remember it later when it could influence their decisions or behavior. - Randy Krum

Data visualization is a language of context. You dramatically improve comprehension of your data when you design a visualization that puts your data into context for the audience. This can be a series of data points over time, or comparing your data to reference data to give the audience the perspective of how your data fits into a bigger picture. Storytelling with data is more than designing a chart, it’s the art of communicating specific insights from your data. - Randy Krum

Are you doing everything you could with your data? The future of data, along with predictive analytics and data visualization, is very exciting! Grab the free ebook now!

23 Reasons to Get Excited About Data IBM eBook Randy Krum Quote

Friday
May272016

The Infographic Resume by Hannah Morgan: Interview & Giveaway

The Infographic Resume is a fabulous book by Hannah Morgan from Career Sherpa! I have a chapter dedicated to infographic resumes in my book, Cool Infographics, but this is the only entire book I've seen dedicated to infographic resumes anywhere. Find more on Hannah's book page.

This month I am giving away one signed copy of The Infographic Resume! Register on the Giveaways Page by June 30th to be entered.

Infographic resumes are in, and they’re not just for designers. Free online tools are popping up every day to help anyone create a dynamic, visual resume—adding panache without sacrificing substance for style.

The Infographic Resume provides essential tips and ideas for how to create visual resumes and portfolios that will make you stand out from the crowd. Richly illustrated in full color and including lots of inspiring examples, the book will teach you how to:

  • Create a powerful digital presence and develop the right digital content for your goals
  • Build your self-brand and manage your online reputation
  • Showcase your best work online
  • Grab a hiring manager’s attention in seconds

Packed with dynamic infographics, visual resumes, and other creative digital portfolios, The Infographic Resume reveals the most effective tools, eye-catching strategies, and best practices to position yourself for any job in any kind of business.

Everyone should follow Hannah Morgan on Twitter (@careersherpa)! She shares her wisdom and insights on resumes, hiring and career issues openly. You can download her Infographic Resume Cheat Sheet, and she maintains a Pinterest Board gallery of Infographic and Visual Resumes.

 

Hannah answered a handful of questions about The Infographic Resume:

How would you define an infographic resume?

Hannah: An infographic resume converts your work experience into visual pieces such as charts and graphs. Instead of finding the right words to write about your skills and achievements, you can present the most important parts of your experience visually. While this may sound difficult for some people, especially those without design skills, it can actually be liberating. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Chapter 1 was great! Could you summarize your chapter on How We Got Where We Are Today?

Hannah: You may have noticed infographics and other visual elements appearing more often in newspapers, marketing materials and social media than in the past. We are inundated with information and rely on our smart phones for on-the-go access. Reading large blocks of text takes time and it is even more difficult to read on a mobile device. Studies indicate that the brain processes pictures faster than words. Other studies say pictures increase comprehension, increase the time people spend on a website, and increase sharing of updates on social media. Job seekers can leverage these trends to their advantage. Savvy job seekers know today’s job market is highly competitive. To make matters worse, almost every company has an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which typically weeds out candidates and results in the dreaded “black hole” of no response. Technology has enabled job seekers to break out of the standard “apply online and wait” mold. By applying out-of-the-box marketing strategies such as social media campaigns, personal websites and infographic resumes, job seekers can do more to stand out and garner the attention they crave (and deserve). 

How would you describe the current state of the market for infographic resumes?

Hannah: Infographic resumes deviate from the expected and that is the very reason to use one. Most job seekers will not use one either because they don’t know about them, don’t know how to create on or think it would be risky to try and use one. In my opinion, the rewards outweigh the risk. Go ahead, use an infographic resume.

What are some of the more unexpected jobs or careers that you have seen candidates use an infographic resume?

Hannah: The early adopters of infographic resumes were people who had graphic design skills. But infographic resumes are being created by technical writers, sales representatives, information technology specialists and many other types of occupations. Infographic resumes demonstrate creativity and innovative thinking which are qualities valued in marketing departments, information technology, and start-up organizations, just to name a few. Consider the culture of the organization and the requirements of the role to help determine if an infographic resume might be successful opening doors.

Are there any risks associated with infographic resumes?

Hannah: There are some things you should know before you use an infographic resume. First, and foremost, do not use infographic resumes when submitting through applicant tracking systems! The technology used in ATSs cannot read visual content. You should also take into consideration who you are sending your infographic resume to. Typically, people in human resource and recruiting roles expect to see the traditional, conservative text resume. These roles often have to review hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes and do not have time to search your infographic for skills and work history. A better strategy is to send your infographic resume to the actual hiring manager or to a contact you have made inside the organization. Infographic resumes also make a great addition to your LinkedIn profile as embedded media in the summary section. If you have a personal website or online portfolio, an infographic resume works well there too. If you are proactively networking with people in your field of interest, bring your infographic resume to the meeting and share it to guide the conversation. And why not bring an infographic resume to an interview to impress the interviewers?

What types of reactions to infographic resumes are you hearing from hiring managers and recruiters?

Hannah:  About a year ago, I polled the recruiters, human resource professionals and career coaches in my network to get their feedback on infographic resumes and the overwhelming response was positive. In fact, 68 percent said they would look at an infographic resume, 32 percent said it would depend and no one said that they wouldn’t look at one. Here are some of the comments I received: 

“I would welcome a fresh, newer idea, which this is, as opposed to the same old resume.” -Hiring Manager

“Shows some creativity.”  -Other

“Yes! I would be thrilled with the creativity, and it would definitely be a resume that would stand out from the pack.” – Hiring Manager

“Yes, because normal resumes are boring.” -Other

Do you have your own infographic resume that I could share?

Hannah: Since I don’t have design skills, I rely on tools that convert my LinkedIn profile into an infographic resume, like this one created using vizualize.me. There are so many tools available to help create infographics so even people without design skills or familiarity with design software can dabble in infographics. I’ve written about four of those tools here: http://careersherpa.net/4-templates-for-infographic-resumes/

 

Hannah's Bio:

Hannah Morgan is the Founder, CareerSherpa.net and a Job Search Strategist. She is a speaker and author on  job search and social media strategies. She delivers fresh advice and serves as a guide to the treacherous terrain of today’s workplace landscape. Hannah’s experience in Human Resources, Outplacement Services, Workforce Development and Career Services equip her with a 360 degree perspective on job search topics. Recognized by media and career professionals, Hannah is an advocate who encourages job seekers to take control of their job search. Hannah is frequently quoted in local and national publications and she writes a weekly column for U.S. News & World Report.

Hannah is the author of “The Infographic Resume” (McGraw Hill Education, 2014) and co-author of “Social Networking for Business Success” (Learning Express, 2013). You can learn more about Hannah on CareerSherpa.net and by following her on Twitter at @careersherpa.

Friday
Apr152016

The Truthful Art by Alberto Cairo: Interview & Giveaway

The Truthful Art is the newest book by Alberto Cairo, and the second book of a longer, planned series. Following the huge acclaim and success of his last book, The Functional Art, Alberto expertly dives into getting data visualizations both accurate and designed for effective communication. 

This month I am giving away one signed copy of The Truthful Art! Register on the Giveaways Page by April 30th to be entered.

The Truthful Art explains:

• The role infographics and data visualization play in our world

• Basic principles of data and scientific reasoning that anyone can master

• How to become a better critical thinker

• Step-by-step processes that will help you evaluate any data visualization (including your own)

• How to create and use effective charts, graphs, and data maps to explain data to any audience

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami, where he teaches courses on infographics and data visualization. He is also director of the Visualization program of UM's Center for Computational Science, and Visualization Innovator in Residence at Univisión, besides being a consultant for several tech companies. He is the author of the books The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (2012) and The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication (2016).

Everyone should follow Alberto Cairo on Twitter (@albertocairo)! He is one of the most vocal dataviz experts online, and shares his wisdom and insights openly. Also, you can download a sample of the new book with the first 40 pages of the book available on Google Drive.

I sent Alberto a handful of questions about The Truthful Art:

Who is the book intended for?

In the Epilogue I joke that I wrote 'The Truthful Art' for my past self, 8 or 10 years ago. As a journalist and designer, I didn't receive appropriate training in data reasoning in college, and that led me to make many mistakes in my career. The book is for communicators of any kind (journalists, graphic designers, marketing folks) who need to deal with data on a regular basis. It's certainly a book about data visualization and infographics, but it also covers the steps that come before you start designing anything: Getting your information as right as possible.

How do you define the difference between a visualization and an infographic?

In the book I explain that the boundary between these and other genres is very fuzzy. For me, an infographic is a combination of words and visuals (charts, maps, diagrams, illustrations) that makes a certain story understandable for people. The designer decides what data to show, and how to structure it, sometimes as a narrative or story. A data visualization doesn't necessarily tell a story, but it enables people to come up with their own conclusions, by letting them explore the information. Infographics emphasize explanation, data visualizations emphasize exploration.

What does in mean for a visualization to be truthful?

The whole book deals with this topic. In general, it requires a proper, honest, and thorough exploration of your information; asking people who know more than you do about it; and then a proper choice of visual forms to represent it.

Why are we more likely to accept visual information as truth?

It's not just visual information, it's any kind of information. We human beings aren't skeptical by nature. Our default is belief.

It is only when we become aware of the multiple ways our own brain, and other people, can trick us that we begin questioning what we see, read, hear, and feel. It is true, though, that recent research has shown that visualizations make messages more credible; this is something that can be used for good or for evil.

I don't know why many of us tend to take visualizations at face value, but it may have to do with the fact that most of us unconsciously associate charts and data maps with science. Those graphics look so precise, so crisp, so elegant! They must be accurate and truthful, right? --Well, perhaps not!

How difficult is it to choose the right chart style?

Not that difficult if you think about the message that you want to convey, or the tasks you want to enable, instead of relying just on your personal aesthetic preferences. I love maps, and I wrote an entire, long chapter about them for the book, but that doesn't mean that everything should be a map. A map may give you certain insights, but may also obscure others. In many cases, a chart may be better.

How can we become better skeptics and critical thinkers when we see data visualizations?

The key is to remember a maxim that I repeat in the book: A visualization is not something to be seen, but something to be read. Approach data visualizations and infographics not as beautiful illustrations (although beauty is a very important feature) to be looked at quickly, but as visual essays. Read them carefully, ask yourself if the designer is showing everything that needs to be shown. Remember that a single number or variable means very little on its own. In infographics, context is everything, and comparisons are paramount.

Is complexity the enemy of good data visualization design?

Far from it. Many designers believe that data visualizations and infographics are intended to “simplify” data. As my friend, the designer Nigel Holmes, has repeatedly said, infographics shouldn't simplify, but clarify. Clarification in some cases means reducing the amount of information you present, but in many others it requires you to increase it. In the book I show some examples of graphics that fail because their designers reduced the data so much that they rendered it meaningless. If a story is complex, its representation will necessarily be complex as well.

This said, it is good to be reminded of that old maxim commonly attributed to Einstein: Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. Over-complicated visualizations are also problematic. If your message is simple or trivial, why creating an extremely intricate graphic?

What’s available for readers on the book website: http://www.thefunctionalart.com/p/the-truthful-art-book.html?

For now, www.thefunctionalart.com contains my blog, contact information, information about both books, and some other resources. I have added software tutorials, and will soon post some of the data from the book. My professional website, http://www.albertocairo.com/, which will be launched soon, will contain more resources.

Are you speaking at any upcoming presentations or webinars?

Yes. I post most of my speaking engagements and consulting gigs here: http://www.thefunctionalart.com/p/speaking-schedule.html

Where’s the best place to follow you online?

My blog and Twitter. I use Twitter (@albertocairo) to take notes for myself, and save interesting resources, so if you want to see what I see or read what I read, that's the place to go!

 

Friday
Feb052016

January Roundup of DataViz News

I sent this out to the Cool Infographics Mailing list previously, but I wanted to share on the blog as well. This will be a regular feature sent out to email subscribers, but I haven't decided if I will always post these on the blog as well. Thoughts?

If you're not a subscriber, you can join the email list HERE. I try to send only a few emails per month, and load with them valuable information on dataviz news, design tools, tips, upcoming dataviz events, giveaways, discounts, discussions and other valuable links.

Please tweet links to any DataViz news that should be included in future emails to @rtkrum

 

Roundup of DataViz Insights, Tools, Tips and News

 

  • Can a love of abstract art and infographic design be combined? They have more in common than we originally thought! This article by Giorgia Lupi delves into how this type of infographic was applied in explaining the "global brain drain."
  • A woman of many talents, Dona Wong, author of Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics, tells all when it comes to creating infographics that have a purpose. With infographics, data needs to be more than just design. It should provide real insight into the findings, that are easily digestible for its viewers. Read more here if you’d like to apply her wisdom to the marketing world. She will also be speaking at the AMA Analytics with Purpose Conference next week. 
  • The New York Times has announced that Amanda Cox has been named has been named editor of The Upshot
  • Visually has now been acquired by Scribble Live, a leading content marketing platform, in the hopes of uniting data and creativity to reach target audiences more effectively.

 

Visme Graphic Design Mistakes By Non-Designers

 

  • Don’t be making these design mistakes! If you’re a designer, or if you’re just getting your foot in the door, use tips from Visme to ensure that each design you make is a hit. Use discount code COOL30 for a lifetime discount 30% off your subscription.
  • Are you a Prezi user? If so, they’ve updated a new feature to create charts using your data. Check out their tutorial.
  • Your business can benefit from telling stories by visualizing data. Data Storytelling: Big Data's Next Frontier from James Kerr on Inc. provided 5 Tips to establish a necessary data storytelling environment for your business. 
  • IBM's free online dataviz site, manyeyes, was shuttered on Dec 31st, and the visualization tools are being rolled into IBM Watson Analytics over time. To learn more about what they’re offering see, click here.
  • KANTAR and Information Is Beautiful have announced the 2015 Information is Beautiful award winners! Check out the whole gallery.
  • Malofiej 24: Infographic World Summit registration is now open, with an impressive lineup of speakers coming March 6-11 in Pamplona, Spain.
  • The O'Reilly Strata+Hadoop World Conference will be taking place from March 29-31 in San Jose, CA. Use code AFF20 for 20% off tickets you can purchase here.
  •  has opened for the OpenVis Conference in April, which will be held in Boston. 
  • If you're in San Francisco, there will be a public workshop detailing storytelling using data with Cole Knaflic on February 8th.
  • A FREE one-day event in Miami, FL will be held on February 20 in celebration of World Information Architecture Day.

 

New DataViz Books:

Building Responsive Data Visualization for the Webby Bill Hinderman

 

 

 


Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionalsby Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

 


Monday
Jan252016

Building Responsive Data Visualization for the Web

Building Responsive Data Visualization for the Web book cover

Building Responsive Data Visualization for the Web by Bill Hinderman is a new book that just came out in November. I had the pleasure of helping Bill as the Technical Editor on the book last year, and I can say it's a fantastic guide to structuring your data and building your code for interactive data visualizations that work perfectly on every screen size.

January Giveaway! This month I am giving away one signed copy to a randomly chosen winner. Register on the GIVEAWAYS page by 11:59pm CT on January 31, 2016 to be entered. A winner will be randomly selected on February 1st.

Data is growing exponentially, and the need to visualize it in any context has become crucial. Traditional visualizations allow important data to become lost when viewed on a small screen, and the web traffic speaks for itself – viewers repeatedly demonstrate their preference for responsive design. If you're ready to create more accessible, take-anywhere visualizations, Building Responsive Data Visualization for the Web is your tailor-made solution.

Building Responsive Data Visualization for the Web is a handbook for any front-end development team needing a framework for integrating responsive web design into the current workflow. Written by a leading industry expert and design lead at Starbase Go, this book provides a wealth of information and practical guidance from the perspective of a real-world designer. You'll walk through the process of building data visualizations responsively as you learn best practices that build upon responsive web design principles, and get the hands-on practice you need with exercises, examples, and source code provided in every chapter. These strategies are designed to be implemented by teams large and small, with varying skill sets, so you can apply these concepts and skills to your project right away.

Responsive web design is the practice of building a website to suit base browser capability, then adding features that enhance the experience based on the user's device's capabilities. Applying these ideas to data produces visualizations that always look as if they were designed specifically for the device through which they are viewed. This book shows you how to incorporate these principles into your current practices, with highly practical hands-on training.

  • Examine the hard data surrounding responsive design
  • Master best practices with hands-on exercises
  • Learn data-based document manipulation using D3.js
  • Adapt your current strategies to responsive workflows

 

I asked Bill to answer a few questions about his book:

Who is the book intended for?

The book is for a development and design team that is looking to shift toward responsive, mobile-first practices.  While it's certainly geared most toward data visualization projects, the book spends a hefty amount of time building responsive design tenets before then getting specifically into visualization.

 

What’s the most important thing to make a great data visualization?

In my mind, the most important thing in making a great data visualization is the output being actionable.  The goal of a visualization is always to make something more clear, right?  All of the data is already...there, in its raw form.  So the initial goal, the more achievable goal, is clarity. But making something clear, and then also making it actionable - that is - pushing the reader/viewer/user toward actually doing something with the data, is where greatness shows up.

 

Do you see everyone moving towards responsive data visualization, or are a lot of companies holding back?

No, I actually don't.  I see a huge amount of people holding back, really with the same reasoning that plagued responsive design in its early stages.  That being: "People don't want to do that on mobile."  Which is, quite frankly, ridiculous.  Every study Pew has put out (I reference plenty of them in the book) shows that as soon as someone is given the opportunity to do something on mobile, they do it.  Moreover, there's an increasing amount of mobile-only users, rather than simply mobile-first.  Very soon, desktop users are going to be seen as an antiquated, legacy type of use case, rather than the default.

 

What's the difference between Responsive Data Visualization and Responsible Data Visualization?

Responsive data visualization is the practice of building data visualizations in such a way that they adapt, respond to, and feel natural regardless of whatever device type a user is accessing them with, and whatever the data set looks like.  In this way, it is the responsible way to visualize data.  So...there isn't one, I suppose.

 

What do you mean in the book by “Think Small”?

So a concept that's very closely tied to responsive design is thinking mobile-first.  That is: designing first for your most limited use case: a small screen, a bad network, sloppy, finger-based gestures.  In data visualization, we actually have an even more limited use case: no screen at all.  That's where building a good API comes into play.  Thinking of the smallest, most limited use case, say, an external call to your API from a different website, and building toward that first.  That way, as you gain real estate, features, bandwidth, you are simply enhancing something that already has a great foundation.

 

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

It's the best, and I love it and if I could, I would shower it with chocolates.  D3.js is, if you're able to devote a development resource to learning it, the absolute best way to create a visualization on the web, because it uses all the languages of the web.  Because it isn't some applet, or some plugin, or some...image, I suppose, it just works intuitively like you are building normally for the web.  Because of this, I think the future is bright.  Even if it were never to be updated again (which isn't the case), it would still implicitly grow in functionality as web languages evolve and grow around it.

 

What’s available for readers on the book website: http://responsivedatavisualization.com/?

The website has snippets from every chapter of the book, along with exercises and code samples that go along with the practice sections in the chapters.  All of the code links to GitHub, and can be forked, built locally, and compared with solutions.

 

Are you speaking at any upcoming presentations or webinars?

I am!  I'll be speaking at Strata + Hadoop World San Jose in March (http://conferences.oreilly.com/strata/hadoop-big-data-ca).

 

Where’s the best place to follow you online?

The best places to follow me online are my own website (billhinderman.com), LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/williamHinderman), or Twitter (twitter.com/billHinderman).

 

Monday
Dec142015

DataViz Gift Guide 2015

Some of the best DataViz themed gifts for the holiday season, with some great deals and discounts as well.

BOOKS

DataViz Gift Guide 2015 Books

 

POSTERS

DataViz Gift Guide 2015 Posters

  • Timeplots.com - 20% OFF all infographic posters, Discount Code “coolinfo”
  • HistoryShots - Check out PopWaves, the updated History of Pop/Rock Music poster!
  • Pop Chart Lab - Running a 12-Days of Christmas sale in December

 

TOOLS

DataViz Gift Guide 2015 Tools

  • Visme.co - Free trial, 40% OFF first payment (monthly or yearly subscription), Discount Code “COOL40”
  • The Noun Project - Free with attribution or $9.99/month unlimited. Creating, Sharing and Celebrating the World’s Visual Language
  • IBM Watson Analytics - Free & Paid editions. Predictive analytics and data visualization. Analyze your data in minutes on your own without downloading software.

 

TRAINING

DataViz Gift Guide 2015 Training

 

CONFERENCES

DataViz Gift Guide 2015 Conferences

What else would you add to your DataViz wish list?

Tuesday
Oct132015

The Future, as Foretold in the Past

The Future, as Foretold in the Past infographic

The Future, as Foretold in the Past is a timeline of future events based on the stories of famous works of fiction. The article that released the infographic was from Brain Pickings; however, the creation story of the graphic is an interesting one. Giorgia Lupi saw the information just on a normal timeline on The Awl and turned it into what you see above.

There is a lot of information on the infographic, the legend above helps explain how it is organized.

Giorgia Lupi explains:

The visualization is built on a main horizontal axis depicting a distorted time-line of events (in fact we put them regularly, in sequence), starting our future-timeline in 2012. The y-axis is dedicated to the year the novel / book foretelling the event was published.

On the lower half of the visualization you can find the original quotes (shortened)

We then wanted to add further layers of analysis to our piece:

– finding out main typologies of foretold events (are they mainly social, scientific, technological, political?)
– discovering and depicting the genre of the book,
– and most of all, dividing them into positive, neutral or negative events.

Finally, good news, in 802,701 the world will still exist!

 

Thanks to Mike for sharing on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mikewirth/posts/10153557417821133

Tuesday
Jan202015

The Key to Infographic Marketing: The Psychology of the Picture Superiority Effect

In Ancient times, Cicero considered memory training to not just be a method, but a form of art. He felt strongly that training your memory was one of the most valuable things you could do to improve your capabilities as a speaker, and a citizen.  Even in ancient times, Cicero knew that remembering images was superior to remembering text alone.

People remember pictures better than words, especially over longer periods of time. This phenomenon as we know it today, is called the Picture Superiority Effect*. It refers to the notion that concepts that are learned by viewing pictures are more easily and frequently recalled than are concepts that are learned by reading their written word form counterparts.

What had been known to the Ancients throughout the centuries, has been quantified scientifically in our modern times. In my book, I included this quote from John Medina’s Brain Rules, to help explain the value of the Picture Superiority Effect. However, to make it visual I created this simple data visualization to help readers remember the power of visual information.

“Based on research into the Picture Superiority Effect, when we read text alone, we are likely to remember only 10 percent of the information 3 days later. If that information is presented to us as text combined with a relevant image, we are likely to remember 65 percent of the information 3 days later.” - John Medina, Brain Rules, 2008

Cool Infographics Picture Superiority Effect

via: coolinfographics.com/book

Advertisers have known this for years. Whether it’s been a simple application like the Yellow Pages (ads with pictures got more business) or giant billboards in New York’s Times Square. To see a real world example of how the Picture Superiority Effect works, check out this excellent coverage area map ad campaign from Verizon:

Verizon Coverage Map Infographic Ad

These maps show Verizon’s 4G LTE network coverage area, compared to the coverage area of their competitors. If you were only to get the text version, imagine how much of this paragraph explaining their coverage area you would remember 3 days after reading it:

“Among the four major wireless carriers, only Verizon’s 4G network is 100% 4G LTE the gold standard of wireless technology. Available in over 500 cities, Verizon 4G LTE covers almost 97% of the U.S. population. Experience the speed and power in more places.”

Now, take a look at the maps again. How much easier it is to see how the four major wireless carriers stack up against each other? It’s obvious Verizon covers the most area. Verizon takes it a step further, and has a link to a PDF highlighting their coverage in Alaska and an interactive map to view different parts of the country. All complete with map visualizations, of course.

However, there is another very important aspect of the Picture Superiority Effect that must be understood: It’s not just any image. It needs to be an image relevant to the content, which reinforces the message from your data. This works across all mediums of advertising, and of course, infographics.

In infographic design, the Picture Superiority Effect is extended to include charts, graphs, and data visualizations. Infographic designers use data visualizations and illustrations as the visual component of a design to trigger the Picture Superiority Effect, which can have incredible success getting the audience to remember the information presented.

Here is an great example from Dan Roam, author of the book, The Back of the Napkin, Solving Problems and Selling Ideas With Pictures, of how using images and text can help a designer understand which type of visualization is appropriate to use when communicating different types of information. Easy to understand, easy to remember.

Dan Roam Back of the Napkin <6><6> Rule

via: DanRoam.com

Infographics work so well because using text and images together helps people to retain the information. Remember, if it’s just words, people will only remember 10% of the information they read. But, if you combine the text with a relevant image, they are likely remember 65% of the information! While others may choose to work harder by crafting a perfectly written article or advertisement, it would be a smarter choice to use text and relevant images together.

Remember to “Make It Visual” if you want your audience to remember the information about your company’s products or services. You don’t have to be a professional designer either. You can make your content visual using a wide range of tools like the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, Microsoft PowerPoint, OmniGraffle, or online design tools like Visme.co or Tableau Public.

 

Sources:
*Nelson, D.L., Reed, U.S., & Walling, J.R. (1976). Pictorial superiority effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 2, 523-528.
Thursday
Aug142014

Coolness Graphed

Coolness Graphed

 

Coolness Graphed

Coolness Graphed.com has a collection of bar graphs that describes when certain actions are deemed “cool” or “uncool”. The three shown here are just a few examples from the website.

Coolness Graphed.com brings normal events together with a humorous flare by rating them in a “cool”/”uncool” bar graph. The bar graph works well with the events as a visual ranking system. No real values are needed.  Data visualization used brilliantly!  It only takes seconds for the audience to understand each one, and they are highly sharable in social media.

The site has been running for more than two years now, and keeps getting funnier!  Thanks to Jones for sending in the link!

Now also available in a book!