Edward Tufte: A Principled Man, A Man With Goals

In his book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, info design guru Edward Tufte lays out some excellent principles that we are going to follow as we design our own information visualizations in Design 4.  Keep these lists handy and refer to them frequently!

TUFTE’S PRINCIPLES OF GRAPHICAL EXCELLENCE¹

•Graphical excellence is the well-designed presentation of interesting data—a matter of substance, of statistics, and of design.
•Graphical excellence consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, and efficiency.
•Graphical excellence is what gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.
•Graphical excellence is nearly always multivariate (involving two or more variables).
•Graphical excellence requires telling the truth about data.

TUFTE’S GOALS OF INFORMATION VISUALIZATION²

•Above all else – Show the data.
•Induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, design, technology of graphic production, or something else.
•Avoid distorting the data story. Be truthful in the representation.
•Present many numbers in a small space.
•Make large data sets coherent.
•Encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data.
•Reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure.

¹From The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte, p. 51

²From The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte, p. 13

Anatomy of an Infographic

While designing infographics over the course of the semester, we must remember that our infographics should always include the following:

  • Headline (Name your infographic)
  • Paragraph of text that explains what the infographic is about
  • References/footnotes giving credit to all sources
  • Pictograms
  • Strong visual hierarchy
  • The Grid System
  • All charts should have titles so it’s clear what data is represented
  • Labeled X and Y axis on all charts and graphs
  • Labeled pies on pie charts
  • Cohesive color palette used throughout
  • Clear typefaces, limited to 2-3 max per infographic composition

The Five Hat Racks AKA Wurman’s L.A.T.C.H. System of Organization

Check out this cool video that visualizes Richard Saul Wurman’s LATCH system of organization. Seems this was a student project. Impressive–it’s so well done!

Paper or Plastic?

As we launch into Project 3, here’s a little something from The Washington Post to get the wheels turning…

Assignment 2: I BOUGHT WHAT?!

For their second assignment of the semester, D4 students had to create an infographic detailing the money they spent over the course of one week.  All student designs can be found on each individual student’s blog, filed under “Assignment 2.”  Some highlights are below.

Tracey Lin:

Dominique Romero:

Ray Chen:

Hannah Phang:

How We Use Social Media in Emergency Situations

Fascinating, from Mashable.com:

“The use of social media during national and international crises, both natural and political, is something that Mashable has followed with great interest over the past few years.

As a culture, we started becoming more aware of the power of social media during times of crisis, like when the Iran election in 2009 caused a furor, both on the ground and on Twitter. More recently, the Internet and social media played an important role in spreading news about the earthquake in Haiti and political revolution in Egypt.

But what about other kinds of natural disasters or crime? Can social media be used to good effect then?

In 2009, two girls trapped in a storm water drain used Facebook to ask for help rather than calling emergency services from their mobile phones. At the time, authorities were concerned about the girls’ seemingly counterintuitive action.

However, according to new research from the American Red Cross, the Congressional Management Foundation and other organizations, social media could stand to play a larger and more formal role in emergency response. In fact, almost half the respondents in a recent survey said they would use social media in the event of a disaster to let relatives and friends know they were safe.

Take a look at the data presented below, courtesy of CreditLoan, and in the comments section, let us know how — or if — you would want to use social media during an emergency.”

Things Lady Gaga Wants

Another fine example of how charts and graphs don’t always have to be serious.  You can have a lot of fun with them, too.  The Bad Romance lyrics are a tiny bit incorrect, but this bar graph still makes me laugh!

Here are some other Lady Gaga infographics for all you “Little Monsters:”

Facebook Flowcharts

A flowchart is a graphical or symbolic representation of a process.

Here are a few flowcharts to guide you through some of life’s, er Facebook’s, toughest dilemmas:

What comment should you leave?

Should you accept your parent’s friend request?

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Tutorials: Charts and Graphs



Here are links to some handy tutorials on creating charts and graphs.

Creating a Circle Graph

Bar Graphs

Bar Graphs, Part 2

Line Graphs