UIE Web App Master’s Tour – Seattle, Washington – May 23, 2011
How do you start from a mountain of data and create something presentable that conveys the message?
Analysis vs Presentation
Data Visualization vs Infographic
Data Visualizations are generated
Infographics are designed (manually drawn)
Education vs Persuasion
Education distributes information without a message
Persuasion has an agenda
The number of different information axes represented
Large number of targets
Finite number of visual properties
Qualitative relationships are more difficult to represent because there are no standards and the reader has to be educated before the reader can understand the data.
Intentional choices are superior to arbitrary choices. You need to make intentional choices when presenting data, not just use a template of what you’ve done before.
Understand your goals, their needs. Then choose what to include, where to put it, and how it looks.
Understand Your goals – If you can’t concisely articulate your goal, you’re doing it wrong.
Different goals require different methods. Default formats are totally the right answer, unless there is a better answer and the answer better be good enough that people will spend the time to learn the new format.
Understand Your Customer’s Needs
Your customer’s don’t care about your brand, they just want to get their work done and move on.
Your success is defined by your customers’ success.
If you can’t satisfy their needs, you have failed.
Do user research!
Understand their hopes, dreams, and favorite flavors!
Understand their contexts of use! The answer to “what do you do?” varies depending on whose asking.
Beware of arbitrary design choices, especially when there are already standards for design elements you are using.
What to Include
- only present the necessary information (every piece of data on the page is either relevant or noise)
- more detail can be good or bad
- redundant encoding is good
- extraneous graphical treatment is often bad
Four types of content on the page: data, redundant encoding, decoration, & noise
Where to put it
- people ascribe meaning to location
- relative placement of things matters (placement correlates to actual placement in real life, unless there is a better option)
- absolute placement matters
Axes give you information for free.
How it looks
Patterns are really important. People will detect patterns, and ascribe meaning to patterns and pattern violations. Humans are sophisticated pattern matching machines. Be very intentional with the patterns you choose to use and make sure there are no unintentional patterns.
- establish patterns and stick with them
- things that are the same should look the same
- things that are different should look different
- preserve order in placement and lists
Pick appropriate encodings: color, shape, line endings/patterns, shading/texture, brightness & saturation, size, placement, numeric labels.
NOTE: These are my notes from The UIE Web App Master’s Tour presentations. They were great resources and you can find much more about them and by the presentations on demand at UIE. While I would love to add my thoughts and more details to these posts, I doubt that will ever happen.
- Everything old is new again (jodymacpherson.wordpress.com)
- Data Visualization Resources (secviz.org)
- The beauty of data visualization (ritholtz.com)