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Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum
President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization and Infographic Design

Infographic Design

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Thursday
Jul142016

Why DFW? 2015

Why DFW? A guide to starting, building, and growing your business in Dallas-Fort Worth

Based on data from 2015, I designed this infographic (InfoNewt) very quickly over a weekend in conjunction with Debra Swersky (@DebraSwersky) and The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC) co-working space located in downtown Dallas.

I love being a part of the Dallas startup community! It's a growing, vibrant, fully-enagaged community of entrepreneurs, and I have a bunch of ideas for future infographics.

Also created a social graphic with 2:1 Aspect ratio for easy sharing on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Monday
Jul112016

PopWaves: Making of the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music

PopWaves: Making of the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music

This is one of my favorite designs! PopWaves is a fantastically detailed, hand-drawn poster that visualizes over 60 years (1955-2015) of the evolution of Pop and Rock music. It's a huge poster, measuring in at 89" x 24", over 7ft long! Released in 2015, PopWaves is a massive update to the original Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music design by Reebee Garofalo and printed posters are distributed by HistoryShots. When it was released, I sent Reebee and Larry Gormley (HistoryShots) a number of questions about creating the poster.

60 years of music! 1200 music artists! 75 genres! Two years in the making. PopWaves picks up where the classic Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music left off; it maps the top pop artists of each year since rock ‘n’ roll began by style. Bolded titles and genre boundaries show the flow and interrelationships among styles; artist names and dashed arrows represent moments of peak popularity. 

Meticulously researched, reviewed by experts, and subjectively categorized, this humongous, carefully hand-lettered, 7 foot long beast of a chart will provide you with endless hours of musical memories and arguments with your friends. Perfect for music lovers and owners of large walls everywhere.

I'm giving away one print poster of PopWaves as the Giveaway in July! Register by 11:59pm CT on July 31, 2016 to be entered. A winner will be randomly selected on August 1st.

PopWaves: Making of the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music close upPopWaves: close up


PopWaves: Making of the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music ZoomedEven closer!  

Reebee Garofalo with his complete designReebee Garofalo with his complete design

Cool Infographics: What were your thoughts and reasoning behind the new PopWaves poster design?

Reebee Garofalo: The original version of what is now called PopWaves grew from my love of pin striping on cars and my desire to capture the contours and flow of the mid-20th century pop/rock/soul market in graphic form, as part of the research I was doing for Rock 'N' Roll is Here to Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry by Steve Chapple and myself. I first got the idea from a rough drawing that Charlie Gillett did on the cover of the 1970 paperback edition of his seminal The Sound of the City. It first appeared as a three-page fold-out called Marketing Trends and Stylistic Patterns in Pop/Rock Music in early printings of the book, which was published in 1977, (and then was reduced to smaller sizes in subsequent printings). This is the version that appears in Ed Tufte’s Visual Explanations.

         

Original chart: Click to see in detail

Reebee Garofalo: In 1979, I was commissioned by NBC Radio to update the chart to 1978, at which point I renamed it The Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music. This is the version that is displayed on the HistoryShots website. In the interim, this graphic has had a long and venerable history of popping up in some very interesting places.


Reebee Garofalo: Although PopWaves is essentially an extension and an update of the Genealogy, the construction of PopWaves not only occasioned the creation of dozens of new genre names, it also necessitated some refinements in the original graphic. The soul categories were further subdivided to include southern soul and funk. Art rock, glam, and southern boogie were added to the rock lexicon.

Larry Gormley and I talked about updating and greatly expanding my original chart for many years. Finally, in 2013, the openness of my schedule and my enthusiasm to tackle such a large project aligned and I started work that spring. I once estimated that the original graphic took me about 100 hours to complete. PopWaves clocked in at around 300 hours. In both instances, I did all the initial design work and the original drawings myself, then brought in artists with calligraphy skills to do the final lettering. Larry spent another few hundred hours on graphic design creating the production-ready version of the chart. 

Reebee's hand-drawn design in progress

Reebee Garofalo: From the beginning I used the year-end pop charts of leading trade magazines like Billboard that Larry and I researched to compile the basic data, and consulted music encyclopedias, the rock press, and, more recently, any number of online databases, as well as a team of experts in the field (academics, radio personalities, music journalists, etc) to help me craft genres names and categorize hard-to-place artists. Still, the results are quite subjective, much more an art than a science. 

It is worth noting that the various inputs that determine the chart position of a given recording have changed over time. What was once a straightforward, if notoriously corrupt, tabulation of record sales and radio play, has become an unruly assemblage of new formats and platforms, and new ways of accessing and sharing music. As a result, it is unclear whether chart position in 2014 is measuring quite the same thing as chart position in 1967.

It is also important to note that the data I am using captures the top of the commercial bubble. These are not necessarily the most interesting or talented artists, or even the most influential musically. They are simply the most broadly popular at a given moment. So there are any number of other interesting graphic representations that could be made. But this is the one I wanted to make. All its contradictions notwithstanding, it attempts to tell the story of US popular music culture, writ large.

 

Cool Infographics: The poster is a large, odd size when compared to standard 24"x36" posters. Why the unusual size and will it cause complications?

Larry Gormley (HistoryShots): From the beginning we realized that in order to do it right, PopWaves needed to be big. We understood that some people may not have the necessary wall space (that’s why we’re going to continue to sell the original chart), however, we know that many people are looking for large-format statement pieces. Also, we’ve been selling over-sized graphics for many years so we feel comfortable with all the marketing and production complexities associated with selling large charts. We’re in the process of working with our framing partner to develop a canvas-wrapped triptych version that is going to be amazing. 

 

Reebee Garofalo: More History of the Chart

As soon as the chart hit the market in Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Pay, it started generating buzz in the music community. Early on, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wanted to use it as a permanent installation. It was actually displayed in the original architect’s model for the Rock Hall that was made by the Burdick Group of San Francisco. The Rock Hall even sent me a contract. But then there was a complete staff turnover, and a more active Board of Directors decided that it would be difficult to decide on an appropriate genealogy for this music. You can bet there was a back story there.

In May 1978, Steve Chapple and I had a piece in Mother Jones magazine on “The Rise and Fall of FM Rock.” It was accompanied by an uninspiring artist rendering of the chart that ran as a graphic over the story. I thought it was a rather lackluster interpretation that did no justice to the original, but there it was, in the pages of Mother Jones.

The following year, NBC Radio commissioned me to update the chart for a marketing campaign they were contemplating, which I did. The woman who contracted me, however, abruptly left her job and her marketing campaign sank without a trace. But this exercise led to the version of the chart that is now available through HistoryShots.

When WGBH-TV, Boston’s PBS television station, was first developing the idea for what became the 10 part series Rock and Roll, I was called in by the Executive Producer as a possible consultant to the project. I think I talked myself out of a potentially lucrative consulting gig when I criticized the original proposal for its overproduction of Britrock and lack of attention to black artists and particularly disco. Still, they were interested in using the chart for their marketing proposal. Since they were going after big time corporate bucks, however, they didn’t want to use the original, which they thought of as . . . I think the word they used was “primitive.” Instead they created a computer generated, high tech version of the chart with circles and arrows and curlicues all over the place. Imagine Keith Haring working in an early draw program. I guess it worked though; their proposal got mega-funding.

The last time that I was brought in as a rock ‘n’ roll consultant to a major project was when Paul Allen was building the Experience Music Project in Seattle. His team of curators was interested in creating a huge sculpture in the middle of the building that depicted the “Roots and Branches” of rock ‘n’ roll — a  sort of three-dimensional version of the rock chart. Having gotten hold of a reproduction of my chart, they pulled me in to help develop the concept. Umpteen staff changes later, they still couldn’t agree on a concept, and the “Roots and Branches” idea was ultimately abandoned in favor of that gigantic guitar sculpture that now ascends dramatically to the second level. While it works well enough as an abstract sculpture, it provides little in the way of useful music history.

If WGBH didn’t like primitive and EMP couldn’t figure out how to incorporate information into its central sculpture, graphic design guru Edward Tufte touted the virtues of the chart on both counts. He decided to use the original 1974 version of the chart in his seminal graphics text Visual Explanations (1997). For those of you who have seen his road show, he uses the chart as an example of an effective design for capturing lots of information in a graphically pleasing way. “Your chart brings my book to a stop,” he once told me, “at least for those of us of a certain age!”

Los Angeles Artist Dave Muller was so taken by the chart that when he was asked to contribute an installation of his own choosing to the 2004 Whitney Biennial, the signature exhibition of New York’s Whitney Museum, he blew up the reproduction in Tufte’s book and made it the centerpiece of a 30 foot wall mural. Muller’s “appropriation” moved the chart into the realm of fine art. Muller has since mounted versions of this installation in Rome, London, Paris, Melbourne, Australia, and elsewhere, all without ever asking my permission. This has outraged many of my friends, who feel I should sue him, especially after he installed it again in 2008 in my backyard at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston. There it defined the public wall at the ICA’s entrance for almost all of 2008. I thought about suing, even talked to a lawyer, who assured me we could make big bucks. Ultimately, however, I decided that public access to information was more important than lining my pockets. I wonder if Muller knows how narrowly he dodged a bullet.

I included a copy of the original drawing as a two-page fold-out in the third edition of my book Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the USA (2005). Also in 2005, I was approached by Marco Ferrari, a journalist working with the Italian magazine Focus, with a proposal “to compile in just one graphic timeline a (very rough) history of popular music, by genres,” using my chart as the basis for their work. The result: “River of Music,” a graphic that extends my original chart in a most engaging way to the year 2000. It appeared as an eight flap, full color, centerfold poster in the June 2005 issue of Focus.

For me, creating this chart was a labor of love that drew equally from my love of popular music (for content) and my attraction to the contours of “pinstriping” on customized 1950s cars (for graphic design). Along the way, I enjoyed the company and able assistance of many friends and acquaintances. I still remember the night that Dianne Dion (then Carasik) spilled Scotch on the original while surveying my placement of artists. When my calligraphy skills were not up to the task, my friend and former college roommate, the late Damon Rarey, stepped in with a major assist in the graphics department. (Damon was an accomplished artist in his own right; check out his legacy at www.rarey.com) For the 1978 update presented here, artist Jean Nicolazzo, my girlfriend at the time, took over Damon’s graphics role. When decisions about artists and categories seemed too complicated to manage, I was fortunate to have Sam Kopper, Allan MacDougall, Beverly Mier, Rory O’Connor, Robert Plattner, and Norm Weiner to talk to.

PopWaves picks up where The Genealogy of Pop Rock Music left off. This update could not have happened without the help of others. I am beholden to my crack team of advisors—Murray Forman, Wayne Marshall, Steve Waksman, and Elijah Wald—for their invaluable assistance in helping me to name styles and position artists. Hats off to Jan Boyd for her awesome calligraphy in the final rendering of artists’ names. And, finally, I am deeply indebted to Larry Gormley (who convinced me to take this on) for his pixel-level interventions and tasteful aesthetic choices in turning PopWaves into an appealing poster. All of the above should get some of the credit for these projects; I’ll take all of the complaints.

Thursday
Jun092016

The U.S. Baby Bust

The U.S. Baby Bust fertility rate

The U.S. Baby Bust is shown in 5 line charts by the Wall Street Journal. Sometimes a clean & simple line chart is the best way to show your data.

The general fertility rate fell in 2015 to tie the lowest level on record. Fertility, defined as the number of live births per 1,000 women ages 15-44, has never been lower than the rate recorded last year and in 2013.

It’s no surprise that Americans are having fewer babies than in the years after World War II, when there was an incredible baby boom. And it’s of course well known that people generally have smaller families today than in the past. Add the severe economic recession that began in 2007 to the picture, and you have the elements to push the birth rate to record lows.


The U.S. Baby Bust age groups of mothers

In this second chart showing the various age groups, the rainbow of colors is a little distracting. One way to tell a specific story with this chart would be to only color the lines that have increased over time, and make the rest shades of gray. That would tell the story that the women in their 30's are the dominant growth age groups.

A separate chart highlighting the lines for teens and 20's would better tell the story of women putting off having children until they are older.

Go check out the WSJ article for the other observations they made from the data.

Tuesday
May242016

Massive Infographic of Star Wars A New Hope

Star Wars A New Hope Infographic

This is a massive infographic depicting the entire story of Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Printed it measures 123m long (over 400ft). Online this infographic is 1,024 pixels wide by 465,152 pixels long! Designed by illustrator and graphic novelist Martin Panchaud, it was designed in Adobe Illustrator CC.

SWANH.NET is an adaptation of Star Wars Episode IV in a style that was inspired by infographics. One story in one piece of 123 meters length.

It was created with Adobe Illustrator CC in 2016. Its exact measures are: 1024 x 465152 px / 27 x 12307 cm / 10.6 x 4845.3-inch

This long ribbon reminds the ancient Chinese script rolls that had to be rolled in and rolled out simultaneously in order to be read. I like this stretch between ages, cultures, and technologies.

However, internet likes short stories and summaries, quickly understandable contents. With my work I aimed to create a contrast to that.

These are only a few small pieces. You go immediately to the SWANH site to view the entire, fantastic infographic!

 

Martin also posted a number of great images as a Making Of feature to show the development process of the infographic.

Tuesday
May172016

Even Major News Outlets Get DataViz Wrong

 

Data visualization can be the most powerful, inspiring, and effective tool of a storyteller—as long as it’s accurate. However, a visualization can go horribly wrong if the designer uses the design tool incorrectly or gets the math wrong.

All too often, the underlying data is correct, but the visualization doesn’t accurately represent the corresponding values. Most of the time, it’s safe to chalk up the false visualization to an honest mistake by the designer, because it’s actually easier than you think.

Take a bubble chart, for example. A great visualization method, but it’s a common source of flawed dataviz. The reason is that design software only allows scaling or width and height adjustments to size shapes. So designers, upon reviewing the data, will sometimes mistakenly scale a circle's diameter instead of the circle’s area. This, in turn, produces radically incorrect sizes. The approach has logic to it (to some degree), but it’s inherently wrong. What should instead be done takes a bit of geometry and a spreadsheet.

“Just think about it: if you tell a software tool to scale something 200 percent, it will make it twice as tall and twice as wide. Therefore, you aren’t doubling the size of your original circle. You’re making it four time larger.”

- The Truthful Art, Alberto Cairo (@albertocairo)

For a real-world example of this problem, take a look at CNN’s recent “ISIS goes global: 90 attacks in 21 countries have killed nearly 1,400 people,” an insightful article, serious topic, credible source with inaccurate data visualizations. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bubble chart at fault. Assuming the data gathered by CNN is accurate, the maps included in the article don’t match the data and are way off.

CNN ISIS Goes Global Incident Map Bad DataViz

Take a close look and the size key. The circle size for five incidents is clearly shown as five times the diameter of the circle for only one incident, which creates a circle for “5 incidents” that is actually 25 TIMES LARGER, not five times larger. This drastically over emphasizes the locations on the map for the Middle East! I’ve designed the correct sizes so you can see what the bubble sizes should be.

CNN ISIS Circles DataViz Key Corrected

“It’s key for data visualization designers to understand that we visually compare the sizes of objects based on the their area (not their height). Numerical values are one-dimensional, but objects on a page or screen are two-dimensional. This is where designers need to remember to use the math learned from high-school geometry class. If you didn’t do well in geometry, it’s time to take another look.”

- Cool Infographics, Randy Krum (@rtkrum)

Bubble charts are in no way the only kind of dataviz that lends itself to mishaps. In print, broadcast, and online, you’ll see a variety of charts incorrectly showing the data — pie charts not adding up to 100%, logo sizes that don’t match the data, lines of icons with a different quantity than the data, etc.

Inaccurate dataviz certainly doesn’t always happen by accident either. Creating deceptive visual context is an unethical tactic employed by researchers, companies and publications alike, typically to promote a persuasive argument. Differences can be blown out of proportion or hidden by changing the axis scale or ignoring relevant data.

Once you start looking at data visualizations as a critical thinking reader, you’ll start notice many charts that don’t match the data. Always look to make sure the designer accurately represented the information before you take any data visualization at face value.

Tuesday
May102016

What's Your Ideal Workplace?

What's Your Ideal Workplace? infographic

Based on your own individual personality, the What's Your Ideal Workplace? infographic from Quill.com examines the best types of office environments to maximize your work performance.

Are you looking for a new position in a more fitting workplace? Or are you attempting to create an office setup that will maximize your employees’ skills? This infographic will help you match common work personality types with their ideal office spaces, from cubicles and open workspaces to co-working and work from home options.

Don’t know your work personality? Take the test.

Many companies are just beginning to realize that workplace design directly impacts employee performance, yet research shows that 3 in 4 U.S. workers are not in optimal workplace environments.

I love the connection to taking your own work personality test. This makes the infographic design personal and relevant to each individual reader. It's informative, but personal.

The illustration of each different workplace layout helps readers understand the differences almost instantly. It's a design with conceptual illustrations, but the statistics are also visualized, making them easier to understand as well. The personality color-coding is consistent throughout the design.

Great layout on the infographic landing page as well. Descriptive text with links, social sharing buttons, the full infographic and embed code at the bottom. The URL of the landing page is also included in the infographic image file itself, to make it easy to find the original, full-size version from sites that share but don't link. Everything needed to make it easy to find and easy to share.

Thanks to Cheryl for sharing the link!

Friday
May062016

The Mother of All Mother's Day Infographics

Your Guide to the Business of Mother's Day may be the reigning Mother of All Mother's Day infographics from TheShelf.com covering practically everything you'd ever want to know about the business of Mother's Day. However, the data visualization portions need some help.

Mother's Day is right around the corner, creeping up on both consumers and brands alike. And even though, year after year, the majority of presents are bought super last minute, our spending on Mom is off the charts! 

...And why shouldn't it be, the wonderful women in our lives are worth everything that we can throw at them (assuming it's good) on their special day, and that's why we've created this pretty huge rundown of all things Mother's Day.

This is a data-heavy infographic that breaks my 5-second rule. Instead of trying to tell one story really well, they threw in every bit of data they could get their hands on. They have so many sections, it's worth taking a closer look at a few to see what we can learn from the design choices.

The dedicated landing page is very well put together! Plenty of text for SEO and custom wording in the social sharing buttons and even custom social images to make sharing the infographic super-easy for readers! My only complaint is that they aren't sized for the social media sites. Twitter needs images with an aspect ratio of 2:1.

Let's take a closer look at one of the sections:

When you mix some data visualized and some data shown in text alone, the visualized data is perceived as more important to readers. These data points shown in just text is usually ignored by readers because it wasn't important enough to visualize.

If you follow me, you'll know that I have a specific pet peeve with designers getting the sizes of circles wrong when used to visualize data. [See False Visualizations: Sizing Circles in Infographics]

The circles is this design don't match any of the data. I'll demonstrate here. The total area of Greeting Cards at 80% should be exactly four times the area of the The Books circle at 20%. However, you can see here that I can easily fit seven of the Books circles in the Greeting Cards circle with much more room to spare!

 

The data may be good, but the visualization is all wrong. It looks like the designer was eye-balling the sizes instead of actually visualizing data. Things like this make me skeptical, and begin to question every other visualization in the whole design. 

Let's look at another section:

The flower is a pie chart, so it needs to follow the Golden Rule of Pie Charts! It MUST add up to 100%! However, this flower/pie chart adds up to 129%! What??? The 63% section by itself should be more than half of the flower, but it's shown as less than half.

One you start looking you'll find more problems. Why is 84% represented by 51 out of 56 people icons? That's 91%. Separately, why would you choose 56 icons to represent the total of 100%? Use 100 icons!

Lots of good data included in this infographic, but the design needs to go back to the drawing board.

Thanks to Sabrina for sending in the link!

Thursday
May052016

Next Generation Interactive Scientific Poster

The Next Generation Scientific Poster project by The Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel, Germany takes scientific data visualization and designed a physical, interactive interface for audiences. As a result, they founded The Science Communication Lab as a spin-off from the academy so they could offer this expertise to researchers in the scientific community all over the world.

Check out this video demonstration on YouTube:

From their description:

The classical poster does often not offer enough space for the sheer complexity of the contents – texts, pictures, graphs and tables – used to convey scientific research today which causes inability to communicate contents and statements concisely. The classical poster also lacks an appropriate possibility for continuous updates which are necessary to include newer research results and would do justice to today‘s constant changes of information. 

The interactive poster is a a new method of presenting scientific topics in an attractive way, offering the user an easier access to the contents and a clearly improved possibility of comprehension. The illustrated topics are supposed to function self-explanatory and long-lasting which means that the viewer can decide on the depth and duration of the information process.

The interactive poster can be used for various purposes: For the internal demonstration of the research projects (poster sessions), on expert conferences and conventions in an international context. The newly developed technology -LED displays with a touch frame- can be used in a more reliable and long-lasting way than conventional projection technologies.

Thanks to Pieter Torrez from Scigrades for the link and his interview article with Professor Tom Duscher

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!

 

Thursday
Mar312016

A New Visme: Huge Update to the Online Design Tool

The new Visme is here. Following eight months of dedicated work to address more than 30 user requests, Visme now gives its users an even smoother workflow. By improving user experience, development infrastructure, and scalability, the new Visme enables faster deployment and increased productivity with a familiar interface.

Of course, the best way for a design platform like Visme to share the new features is with an infographic designed using their own tool! You can see the infographic and all of the update features in this Visme blog post.

If you're not already familiar with Visme, it's an easy-to-use online visual content editor that allows you to create stunning presentations, reports, infographics, interactives, and more. Used by designers worldwide as their vector design platform that replaces the need for traditional software apps like Adobe Illustrator or Microsoft PowerPoint. With Visme, you can visualize stories and data, which is why it’s trusted by 300,000+ marketers, communicators, executives, educators, and nonprofits from 50+ countries.

With the upgraded Visme, you can:

  • Produce an alluring narrative with the revamped text editor and updated text widgets. Custom styling and padding, along with a spread of lively fonts, give your words an illustrative charm that bounces off the screen, transforming dull text blocks into something to see.

  • Move multiple objects and copy to them to slides to reorganize your story without hassle. No need for tedious work when you can duplicate and tweak rather than constantly starting anew or pasting too much and working backwards.

  • Create a global color palette to guarantee consistency throughout a complex project. This allows you to keep track of colors in a visual language in order to design quicker without guesswork or extra steps.

  • Choose from millions of free images to present a more striking take on your content. Don't spend hours online looking for the right picture and if you can even use it. Brighten up your work with ease and efficiency to grab your audience's attention without entering a labyrinth.

  • Record audio, upload your own or choose from a collection of high-quality music clips to strengthen a presentation with a narration or background music. Audio gives your content an extra level of exciting depth. Manage timing and fade control from one intuitive panel.

  • Expand your data storytelling tactics with new chart types and a selection of thousands of adjustable vector shapes and icons. Go far beyond standard and avoid being repetitive with new data visualization capabilities. You can even make them animated.

  • Get started quickly with a vastly expanded library of templates and themes, tailored for specific industries and purposes. You'll have the right look for exactly what you're doing.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Visme Founder Payman Taei in this webinar for Visme members, where he also demonstrated the new capabilities of the updated Visme design platform:

It's time to step up your game and make your presentations and infographics more impactful and effective. Try Visme for FREE, and when you're ready to subscribe, use the discount code VISME30 for 30% OFF for the lifetime of your account!