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Randy Krum infographic designerRandy Krum

President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization, Infographic Design, Visual Thinking, Product Development and Marketing professional fascinated by good infographics.  Always looking for better ways to get the point across.

Infographic Design

Looking for help creating your own infographics?  Randy’s infographic and data visualziation design company:

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Entries in Visualization (26)

Tuesday
Jun242014

HelpMeViz: DataViz Community Feedback for Your Charts

HelpMeViz: DataViz Community Feedback for Your Charts

Have you ever struggled with which type of chart to use in your presentation? Or how to get Excel to display the chart the way you want it to appear?  Or don’t know what software will create the data visualization you would like to use?

Jon Schwabish is a data visualization specialist, and in 2013 he launched a new website to help everyone become better at data visualization called HelpMeViz.  The HelpMeViz site invites you to submit your data visualization projects to get feedback from the community.  The community is encouraged to offer suggestions, critiques and debate ideas about chart formats, software tricks, visual applications and visualization methods that can be valuable feedback to make your data more understandable and impactful.

 

The data visualization community consists of people who use data and design to tackle a variety of issues and challenges. Outside of a few specific blogs and tutorials however, there isn’t a place where that community can provide in-depth comments and criticism on data visualization projects. This site is designed to facilitate discussion, debate, and collaboration from the data visualization community.

The site is open to anyone who is searching for feedback on their visualization designs, from seasoned designers and data visualization specialists to individual analysts searching to improve their graphic displays. All types of visualizations are welcome: simple, single line or bar charts to full-blown infographics to interactive visualizations.

If you have a chart that just isn’t working, or getting your message across to your audience, you can upload it to the site, and get really useful, actionable advice from the Community.

Mapping Program Participation by State

Jon is currently the Senior Researcher and Data Visualization Expert at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, and he took some time to answer a few interview questions from me about the HelpMeViz site:

Cool Infographics: Who is the target audience of the site?

Jon Schwabish: The site was created for anyone—truly anyone—to seek feedback or submit comments. I want anyone to be able to use the site—from the data visualization expert to the experienced JavaScript programmer to the research assistant using Excel. To attract that broad audience, I decided against using established tools or sites like Flickr, Pinterest, Behance, or Dribbble. Many of those sites require users to create an account, or have some other barrier to easy entry and I wanted to avoid those types of barriers. Additionally, I felt that sites like Stack Overflow and GitHub appeared too difficult for the everyday user. So, although it’s often said that you should refine your audience, I wanted to go broad here to make it as accessible as possible.


Cool Infographics: How often do people post new visualization questions to HelpMeViz.com?

Jon Schwabish: To date, I’ve posted at least one visualization per week. There have been a few weeks when I’ve been able to do more. Interactive visualizations and ones that have a unique design question—for example, how to create something in Excel—generate the most interest.


Cool Infographics: Are you having success getting the audience to engage and recommend design ideas?

Jon Schwabish: For the most part, I haven’t had to engage the audience much on my own; community members have taken most of the initiative to engage with the content, making light work for me on that end. I’d like to see more requests on the design side—questions about font or color or layout. To date, requests have been primarily about tools and creation of the visualization. But I think a lot of people would benefit from asking basic design-style questions.


Cool Infographics: Does it take much of your own time to participate and keep the site running?

Jon Schwabish: It doesn’t take too much of my own time, but that will change, I hope, as the amount of content increases. I oftentimes have to rewrite the text to clarify the challenge or goal. Sometimes I need to tweak an image or extract an image from a larger document. I rarely fiddle with the data—if the person who submitted the visualization could use it to create the graphic, then it’s probably close enough for others to use. I’ll usually correspond with the submitter once or twice to make sure he or she is okay with my edits and then I post the submission.


Cool Infographics: What are the best examples of successful projects posted to the site?

Jon Schwabish: There have been a number of interesting challenges.

Perhaps the thing I’m most excited about for the site right now is the live Hackathon that will be held on Saturday, June 28, with Bread for the World Institute. We are inviting 25 coders, designers, and data scientists to help the Institute with two data visualization challenges. I will be live blogging the event and will make the data available on the HelpMeViz site so that anyone around the world can join the discussion and provide his or her own visualization suggestions.

This site is truly made for everyone, and I encourage you to check it out.  The feedback can range from Excel charting tips to visualization programming code.  You can upload your own charting challenges, offer recommendations on other people’s charts or just lurk and learn from the advice of other experts.

If you’re in the DC area, be sure to check out the HelpMeViz Hackathon event on Saturday, June 28th! HelpMeViz will bring together coders, data scientists, and data visualizers in Washington, DC, to help Bread for the World Institute with two data visualization challenges for its 2015 Hunger Report, which focuses on why women’s empowerment is essential to ending global hunger.

Thanks to Jon for creating this incredible resource, and taking the time to answer a few questions!

Friday
May092014

Comics That Ask "What If?"

Randall Monroe, author of my favorite web comic XKCD, gave a great TEDTalk about answering science and math questions with his comics.  One of the best parts of this video, and the web comic series in general, is that he uses hand-drawn data visualizations and illustrations to answer them, which makes them easier to understand.

Web cartoonist Randall Munroe answers simple what-if questions (“what if you hit a baseball moving at the speed of light?”) using math, physics, logic and deadpan humor. In this charming talk, a reader’s question about Google’s data warehouse leads Munroe down a circuitous path to a hilariously over-detailed answer — in which, shhh, you might actually learn something.

Pre-order or watch for his new book, “What If?” to be released in September 2014!

Friday
Apr252014

Every Job In America

Every Job In America infographic

Every Job In America is a treemap data visualization design from Quoctrung Bui at NPR based on the data that the U.S. government collects for the monthly Jobs Report.  I think I probably fit somewhere in the Services-Professional and Technical Services-Specialized Design section.

Whatever Friday’s monthly jobs report says, it won’t change the big picture. There are roughly 137 million jobs in this country. About two-thirds of those jobs are in private-sector services; the remaining third are split between goods-producing jobs (mainly manufacturing and construction) and government work (mostly at the state and local level).

Here’s a closer look, drawn from the same data that the government collects for the monthly jobs report.

Notes: 
*The data come from the government’s non-farm payroll report — which, as the name suggests, does not include farm jobs. Update: The report also excludes military personnel, government intelligence employees and some self-employed workers.

There isn’t much I would change about this design.  The treemap visualization is well done, and carefully organized to allow for the color coding rectangles.  Titles are missing from any rectangle that was too small to hold the text, but a smaller font could have been used, or a reference to a list at the bottom.

Even though this is part of an article posting, the infographic image itself has a title for easy sharing without the rest of the article.  Including a few other elements in the image file like the data sources and the URL to the landing page would be very helpful.

This is the type of project where I think a link to a public spreadsheet with the numbers used would be helpful.  The article links to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics press releases, but then someone would have to dig through the reports.

Tuesday
Mar182014

The Power of ACC Basketball

The Basketball Staff at CBS Sports has put together a handful of really good data visualizations showing the 29-year history of the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams.  The chart above shows Most Wins won in the Tournament by conference, color-coded by round.  These aren’t complicated designs, but the story they tell is very powerful.

Go N.C. State Wolfpack!  Fantastic win over Xavier tonight!  The Big East looks pretty strong too, but there’s nothing like ACC Basketball.  These data visualizations tell that story much better than text and numbers.  In Texas (Big 12), they just don’t seem to understand the importance of basketball.  Football is what you play in the off-season!  They have it reversed here in Texas, where football is much more important.

Here is that same data shown as a color-coded table that spells out the Most Tournament Wins by Year by year.  This looks like it could have been designed with Conditional Formatting in Microsoft Excel, but it’s done very well.  The simple color-coding adds context and makes the entire table easier to understand.

As an infographics design, the PNG image file itself should include a little more information, in case it gets shared online without the rest of the article (like this blog post).  It should list CBS Sports as the publisher/designer and the URL back to the original article.  I also would have used the conference logos along the y-axis instead of text.

Here’s their chart of overall NCAA Championship Wins over that same 29 year period.

 

 

Monday
Mar172014

The State of Infographics at SxSW 2014

The State of Infographics at SxSW 2014

I post all types of infographics and data visualizations from designers all over the world here on Cool Infographics, and as a recap, I wanted to take stock of the state of infographics and data visualization at this year’s SxSW Interactive conference in Austin, TX.

I’ve been going to SxSW for a few years now, and infographics have been a growing presence in the Interactive portion of the conference every year.  You can find hidden sessions about data visualization, visual communication and infographics in different portions of the conference like the new SXsports, Health and Business sessions.

Check the links and search the presentation hashtags on Twitter to find more information and audience comments from each event.  I know I didn’t catch everything, so send me links to anything (Events, notes, slides, etc) I missed through the Contact page or the comments and I’ll add appropriate ones into the post!

*Sessions I was able to attend

Official Events:

 

Unofficial Sessions:

 

  • The Attention Economy with Walter, book signing by Ekaterina Walter @Ekaterina, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling
    • “Attention is the new commodity. Visual storytelling is the new currency,” say co-authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio in their new book The Power of Visual Storytelling.  The first 100 attendees for Ekaterina’s signing will get a copy of her book. Come chat with Ekaterina about the visualization revolution and her thoughts about SxSW Interactive 2014.
    • Hosted by Vocus @Vocus
    • http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wtf-sxsw-visualize-a-powerful-future-tickets-10822280733
  • FH Black Box lounge at the Four Seasons (#FHBlackBox)
  • Column Five announced the release of Visage
  • Cool Infographics Meetup
    • Special thanks to the team at the Fleishman Hillard Black Box Lounge!  They allowed me to host the Cool Infographics @Coolinfographic meetup event after my book signing on Monday for anyone that wanted to hang out.  It was also an opportunity to meet fans and sign books for people that didn’t have official SxSW badges.

 

Please help add anything I missed by posting in the comments below or sending me a note through the Contact page.  I’ll add new content into the post above.

 

 


Tuesday
Jan282014

2013 Airline Scorecard Best to Worst

2013 Airline Scorecard; Ranking of Major Carriers in Key Operational Areas, Best to Worst infographic

Traveling by airplane can be a stressful situation. Choosing the correct airline can make all the difference. Check out how your favorite airline scores on the 2013 Airline Scorecard; Ranking of Major Carriers in Key Operational Areas, Best to Worst infographic and article from The Wall Street Journal

In the Middle Seat’s annual scorecard of airline service, tracking seven different key measures of airline performance, Alaska Airlines performed best in 2013 among major carriers. At the top with Alaska was Delta, which for the past two years has posted far better operational results than big competitors. Worst among big airlines? United Airlines and American Airlines, again. 

By assigning each airline a specific color, it allows the viewer to clearly distinguish each airline throughout the scorecard. The lines connecting the columns also gives the whole graphic a sense of connectivity and flow, causing the eye to follow each airline.

Even though this visualization is part of a larger article, they did a good job of including the relevant information in the image file itself.  This is a big help when the scorecard image gets shared online.  It has a clear title, data sources and credit to the WSJ.  The URL back to the article would be very helpful, but they didn’t include that in the image.

Found on http://ilovecharts.tumblr.com

 

Friday
Jan242014

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts - the Poster

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts infographic poster

Dr. Nathan Yau, PhD from FlowingData.com has charted the 100 most memorable quotes from American movies, as selected by the American Film Institute, into a data visualization series called Famous Movie Quotes as Charts.  He had designed the first handful of them a few years ago, but only recently got back into the project and completed all 100.  

These have now been compiled into a beautiful 24”x36” poster available for a limited time before the one-and-ONLY print run for $19.00.  Pre-order your copy this week here!

This 24” by 36” poster is printed on 80lb cover with a matte finish, each signed and hand-numbered.

There’s only going to be one printing, so take advantage of the special pre-order price while it lasts.

Shipping February 2014.

Each chart is a clear visualization of the movie quote, and easy for the audience to understand.  They are beautiful in their simplicity and can be very funny in their interpretation.

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts Jaws Chart

Here’s a link to the big version for all of the detail.

Friday
Jan172014

Where in the World are the Best Schools and the Happiest Kids?

The Best Schools and the Happiest Kids infographic

The best test scores don’t always mean the happiest kids at school.  The Best Schools and the Happiest Kids visualizes the results from a worldwide survey of over 500,000 15-year-olds globally.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s triennial international survey compared test scores from 65 countries. Happiness was ranked based on the percentage of students who agreed or disagreed with the statement “I feel happy at school.” Test scores were ranked based on the combined individual rankings of the students’ math, reading, and science scores.

I can’t tell for sure, but it appears that Jake Levy, Data Analyst at BuzzFeed created this data visualization based on the data from OECD survey results.  Infographics like these often get shared without the rest of the article, so it’s important to include all of the necessary framing information in the graphics itself.  Title, descriptive text, sources, URL, publishing company, copyright, etc.

Thanks to Ron Krate on Google+ for posting

Monday
Dec022013

NFL Concussion Watch 2013

NFL Concussion Watch 2013 infographic visualization

PBS Frontline has published the interactive data visualization, NFL Concussion Watch 2013 to summarize all of the player concussions reported in the NFL.

Every week in the National Football League, a player is sidelined by a head injury. In some cases, their symptoms are clearly visible and they exit the game. Other times, less obvious warning signs can mean a missed diagnosis and a return to the field. Either way, research indicates that the long-term health effects of such injuries — including memory loss, depression and even dementia — can pose problems for players long after retirement.

Concussion Watch is an effort to monitor the NFL’s response to the persistent risk of head injury in professional football. To do so, FRONTLINE will track which players are being removed from games after a hit to the head — and which players are not — and keep score of how long they are kept from the field following a concussion.

I really like the idea of this data visualization, but they messed up the visuals.  The circle sizes are supposed to change relative to the values, but they’re not correct.  The designer chose to make the circles for 1-3 too large in order to fit the numbers inside the circles, and 4-5 are larger but the same size.  The choice of aesthetics over accuracy is a common mistake, and creates a false visual to the readers.  It’s the wrong choice.  Accuracy of the data visualization is more important than any other part of the design.

In visualizations, the design is supposed to visually compare values to create context and understand for the readers.  Because some of these circles are larger than their actual values, this creates the impression that most of the football positions have similar risk, instead of clearly highlighting how less risky some positions truly are.

I do like the design layout that places the circles into their correct player positions.  Readers can grasp this layout in a fraction of a second, and understand where the riskiest positions are.

Thanks to Melanie for sending in the link!

Thursday
Nov212013

Finding Waldo by Visualizing Patterns

Where's Waldo BooksGraphic by Slate. Illustration by Martin Handford published by Candlewick Press.

Here’s Waldo is a great analysis and article by Ben Blatt on Slate.com about trying to determine a strategy for finding Waldo by visualizing patterns from the Where’s Waldo series of books.

In Chapter 1: The Science of Infographics of my new book, Cool Infographics, I cover that our ability to see patterns is a huge factor in why data visualizations and infographics are so effective.  Humans can see patterns and recognize differences where computers can’t.  You can read about this topic and more in the Free Sample Chapter available for download.

Illustrator Martin Handford published the first in his beloved series of Where’s Waldo books over 25 years ago.* The books challenge readers to find the titular cartoon man, clad in his trusty red-striped shirt and red-striped hat, as he hides in a landscape of red-striped red herrings. When attempting to find Waldo you can scan the page completely from top to bottom, or you can focus your search around certain landmarks where Waldo seems likely to be hiding (in a castle’s moat, riding a blimp). Neither approach is particularly efficient. Which got me to wondering: What if there’s a better way?

I sought to answer these questions the way any mathematician who has no qualms about appearing ridiculous in public would: I sat in a Barnes & Noble for three hours flipping through all seven Where’s Waldo books with a tape measure.

The map born of my experiment is below.

Mapping Waldo Locations

It may not be immediately clear from looking at this map, but my hunch that there’s a better way to hunt was right. There isn’t one corner of the page where Waldo is always hiding; readers would have already noticed if his patterns were so obvious. What we do see, as highlighted in the map below, is that 53 percent of the time Waldo is hiding within one of two 1.5-inch tall bands, one starting three inches from the bottom of the page and another one starting seven inches from the bottom, stretching across the spread.

Finding Waldo Patterns

Check out the complete story on Slate.com

Found thanks to a post by Mike Elgan on Google+!