‘Think about how you could represent your typical working week. You may want to categorise your time by what you’re doing (e.g. paid work, OCA work), where you are (at your place of work, at your desk at home) or another method. Try and represent your time proportionally. Develop your ideas through at least three different ways of representing the data. Reflect on how these different representations look. Are some more visually interesting than others. Are some more accurate? How could you improve your designs to make the information more interesting and engaging for an audience, while maintaining the basic proportion of the information?’
I had a look at the common methods for showing data – some are more familiar than others.
Bar chart – apparently this is one of the most effective (though boring) ways for us to understand graphs. Our brains easily see rectangles in relative size. More so than irregular shapes.
Scatter chart – I don’t find these all that easy to look at, but thats a personal preference.
Bubble chart – this shows a third measurement, shown by the size of bubble
Pie chart – best for large values or the slices become difficult to understand and distinguish
Radar chart – just plain hard to read unless you are used to them!
Matrix – pretty
Stream graph – really pretty
I am actually swotty enough to go the extra mile: Yes, I watched a series of tutorials online entitled “What is data visualisation”.
This example shows exactly the same data – showing how important it is to think about your range of values on the x and y axis
Naploean’s army marching to and from Russia by Charles Minard. This is actually a really clever way to show how a very large army suffered a terrible number of deaths. A tiny fraction of the army made it home.
Florence Nightingale – in her capacity as a medical statistician – this is a cox comb chart
Deaths caused by wars
I took a screen shot to remind me of the difference between Mean and Median
And the concept of percentile (though I think this tends to be more of an American concept)
I decided to focus on my student work and how I divide up my study time. This is based on recent weeks where I have spent a lot of time watching video tutorials. When I can’t manage much physically, and my concentration isn’t that good, I can still watch and learn!
Here’s my ‘raw data’. Sometimes I spend many hours creating work in Illustrator/Indesign rather than writing my blog or watching Lynda.com and so on. But this is accurate enough for my recent activities.
How to represent the information?
I have used graphs in Illustrator, but not often so I confess this took a bit of bodging…
My first graph generated this – you can see there was no visible block for You Tube, and I would have had to scale the graph up quite large to fit the text on.
I tweaked rather haphazardly, which is a reminder to learn a bit more about using bar charts in Illustrator! Anyway, here’s the result.
My Bar Chart
Not that exciting, but easy enough to read… I can immediately see an improvement now Ive finished uploading this image! If I had swopped the x and y axis, then I could have written the titles on the actual graph. (Doh)
I found this straight forward to build and because there isn’t a lot of information, I think its also fairly clear… This does demonstrate the bar chart is far more accurate in terms of perceiving small differences though. (e.g. what is the relative value of the blues and greens?)
But I really wanted to do the fun stuff, so heres the next bit. I had the idea to use pencils – only to spot pencil graphs on a you tube playlist (grr)!
Anyway, heres my vector pencil
I decided to break away from a bar chart by scaling my pencils in total size, rather than height. And experimented with breaking the line…
After a bit more thought, I moved from pencils to a paint brush, though I wasn’t too sure how I wanted to render the brush at first
I settled on this…
…and my final design emerged. I also used a very thin stroke on the gradient fill on the shaft of the brush, and its not rendered well – I don’t actually know why. Suggestions gratefully received!
My Study Time
This is my favourite one. Visually. Not that the data is that easy to read at a glance. It would entirely depend on the importance of the information as to how playful you can get.
I’ve just noticed I shuffled my brushes to create a nicer composition and it might have helped if I’d also rearranged the key to correspond with the colour sequence. Otherwise – well its fun, which is usually a plus point?!
So what is data visualisation? Lynda.com (3 hour tutorial series)