designing for effectiveness

Write your own data visualization stylebook

A long time ago I tweeted about the need for everyone in the data visualization community to write a book. I wasn't joking: if you only tweet or write a few posts, you can't possibly comprehend the lay of your own data visualization land, how deep the rabbit hole goes, the ________________ (choose your own metaphor/cliché). It doesn't have to [...]

By | June 8th, 2016|14 Effective design, Authors and Books|Comments Off on Write your own data visualization stylebook

Two datavis places I don’t belong to

I'm an introvert, so it's very easy for me to also be an uncompromising Marxist (the Groucho flavor), specially when it comes to club membership (I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member) but things changed since I discovered data visualization. I love it and love this loose sense of community. NTTS 2015 [...]

By | March 23rd, 2015|14 Effective design, Design|3 Comments

Eurostat, or the art of factoid growing

It saddens me to know that 23-year old Belgium girls are incapable of abstract reasoning, something that everyone in other parts of the world take for granted by the age of 12. That's why we should praise Eurostat for its dumb-down, infographic-oriented approach to data dissemination. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you may want to take a [...]

By | March 11th, 2015|14 Effective design, Design|Comments Off on Eurostat, or the art of factoid growing

Aesthetics be damned

I'll assume that you are not paid for your artistic skills. You're a mere mortal in a corporate environment, trying to make sense of your data and making rational decisions if possible. You make charts all the time, but you don't really know if this new "data visualization" is the same thing with a pompous name or is something bigger and more [...]

By | October 30th, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|10 Comments

Bars and lines: méfiez-vous des morceaux choisis

So, this data visualization thing is new to you, but you already know enough to avoid basic mistakes (pies, 3D...). While playing with the data, you make these two charts: You already know that a bar chart helps you to compare data points, while a line chart is better at displaying trends, right? But you keep staring at them, not knowing [...]

By | September 13th, 2012|14 Effective design, Chart Types|8 Comments

And now you know why

I spent the last two weekends among kings and witches, foxes and wolves, dumb men and devious women, visiting castles in Scotland and villages in Africa. Two weekends of great storytelling. One little thing bothered me, though. Explicitly or not, many stories ended with the words "and now you know why". And now you know why. We, the data visualization [...]

By | September 10th, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|1 Comment

That’s not data visualization

What is wheat and what is chaff? Here is a list to help you take sides: If you want to fit the data into the shape of real-world objects, that's not data visualization; If you use more than one dimension to represent a data point, that's not data visualization; If your project breaks basic perception laws, that's not data visualization; [...]

By | July 3rd, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|7 Comments

The data visualization – data art continuum

Data visualization is becoming a catch-all concept with little analytic usefulness. The infographic plague we have to endure is not helping. It doesn't have to be that way. Stephen Few wrote recently about the distinction between data visualization ("the goal that data be visualized in a way that leads to understanding") and data art ("visualizations of data that seek primarily [...]

By | May 24th, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|7 Comments

Why do people make bad charts? [POLL]

Let's assume that a bad chart is a chart that breaks basic perceptual laws, contains too much fluff, do not respect data relationships and do not clearly answer the underlying question (if you can find one). Why do people make such charts? Below you can find some reasons. Check the ones you agree with. You can select as many as [...]

By | February 14th, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|3 Comments

12 Data Visualization Questions I Have No Answers For

We stop loving someone or something when we feel there is nothing more to discover, when we have no more questions, when we don't care about the answers. I started writing my Data Visualization for Excel Users series because I have an unhealthy number of open questions. I'd like to go beyond it depends but there are no right answers, only [...]

By | January 12th, 2012|14 Effective design, Design|14 Comments