Arelia on the Web

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Take Aways: Data Visualization

Data Visualization
Hosted by ChicagoRuby at Thoughtworks
Presented by Vanessa Shen (@vanessashen)

The size of the visual should match the value of the data

Distorting Data:
-3D can make data more complicated
-Pie charts are particularly difficult to understand with more than 3 values/slices; 3D makes pie charts even more difficult
-Avoid gradients unless the color variation means something; don’t use them just for decoration

Example of an easy to explore and compelling visualization: NY Times’ How Different Groups Spend Their Day - http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/07/31/business/20080801-metrics-graphic.html?_r=0

Maximize data to ink ratio:
Remove ink that doesn’t covey info (decoration/chart junk) or is redundant (info repeated elsewhere in your presentation)

Word Clouds: Sideways or small words don’t get read

Use color
-Sequential (like gradients that represent percentages)
-Diverging (like political maps that combine two gradients, red to purple and purple to blue)
-Categorical (a set of colors where each one is very different from the others; different because you font want to imply a false relationship between any colors)

Keep in mind color relationships that are ingrained ; green to yellow to red might imply good to neutral to bad. (We are what we eat example)

Avoid hovers: if the info is important for the user to see it should be fit into the visualization

Chart junk: Fancy visualization does not equal good visualization
Bad fancy visualization: (USA Today example)

Good fancy visualization:
Watch the growth of Walmart and Sam’s Club by Flowingdata - displays change in quantity over time in a compelling way: http://projects.flowingdata.com/walmart/
The Jobless Rate for People Like You by NY Times - actually a very simple visualization of complex information: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/06/business/economy/unemployment-lines.html

Data doesn’t have to be made interesting for all people, rather it should be made clear for people who will find it interesting anyway

Tools:
Google Chart Tools - Automated chart making
D3.js or Processing - Charts from scratch
R - a statistical language, good for viewing and interpreting data but not necessarily a final product
ColorBrewer

Influencers:
Edward Tufte - The father of modern DV
NY Times - They’re good at this (see above. See also their ChartsNThings Tumblr: http://chartsnthings.tumblr.com)
Amanda Cox
Mike Bostock
Flowingdata
The Why Axis
Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg at Google
Jeffrey Heer

Info graphics=chart junk

Hans Rosling’s Ted talks: https://www.google.com/search?q=Hans+Roslings+Ted+talk

Also of note from the Q&A: not much tall in the data visualization space about mobile. Case in point, many of the about examples are flash and I can’t see them on my phone.

Filed under take aways

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Professional Site Redesign Tools

I picked up a few skills and relied on a few new resources for the redesign of my professional site.

I read this article on Responsive Background Images: http://elliotjaystocks.com/blog/better-background-images-for-responsive-web-design/

I also coded my first PHP script, a simple form mailer for the contact form, with help from http://www.webdevfaqs.com/php.php and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdsz9Ie6h7I.

Read more …

Filed under responsive background PHP mailer port