Bespoke Infographics: Anna Wintour’s Family Tree

After our presentation on diagrams, I asked my D4 students to visualize this NY Post/Page 6 article, Anna Wintour’s Family Tree.  While the actual functionality of some are more successful than others, it’s really interesting to see the variety of visual and strategic approaches to outlining the Vogue queen’s connections. Check out some of their work below, and click on Permalink beneath each image if you’d like to get a closer look.

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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

Brainstorming: Mapping Your Thoughts With A Mind Map

In class last week we discussed making Mind Maps as a brainstorming tool.  I stumbled on this primer on LiteMind that will refresh you if you’re still having trouble wrapping your brain around making a Mind Map.

How to Draw a Mind Map

Drawing a mind map is as simple as 1-2-3:

  • Start in the middle of a blank page, writing or drawing the idea you intend to develop. I would suggest that you use the page in landscape orientation.
  • Develop the related subtopics around this central topic, connecting each of them to the center with a line.
  • Repeat the same process for the subtopics, generating lower-level subtopics as you see fit, connecting each of those to the corresponding subtopic.

Some more recommendations:

  • Use colors, drawings and symbols copiously. Be as visual as you can, and your brain will thank you. I’ve met many people who don’t even try, with the excuse they’re “not artists”. Don’t let that keep you from trying it out!.
  • Keep the topics labels as short as possible, keeping them to a single word – or, better yet, to only a picture. Especially in your first mind maps, the temptation to write a complete phrase is enormous, but always look for opportunities to shorten it to a single word or figure – your mind map will be much more effective that way.
  • Vary text size, color and alignment. Vary the thickness and length of the lines. Provide as many visual cues as you can to emphasize important points. Every little bit helps engaging your brain.

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!

2010 Casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan

From the NY Times.  Clearly inspired by ISOTYPE drawings of soldiers.

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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Map Your Professional Network

LinkedIn has a new feature that creates a map of your personal professional network.