Now You See It Cover

Now You See It – Stephen Few

Yesterday I attended the seminar Exploring Data Visualisation and Predictive Analytics.

Whilst I’m not the best person when it comes to smoozing in corporate events, I played my part and introduced myself as the Head of Graphic Design at Mintel. Many people couldn’t understand the logic of a designer being at a data visualisation conference.

Stephen Few from Perspectual Edge was the keynote speaker, a legend in the data analysis field.

Whilst I took away many new ideas and way to help the designers at Mintel produce better graphics, I can sum up my day in just a few elements:

Always make sure you can SEE:

Search (discover) Examine (knowledge) Explain (decision)

The eyes are the dominant sense in the human body, they account for 70% of our sensory action. Data visualisation isn’t about decorating data, it’s about extracting clarity from the confusion.

Make sure you save ink: Data-ink that is. Everything you include on a graph should bare relevance to the data – extra lines, shading are all just padding to the important issue. Take away silly fluff – 3D is pointless, pretty line chart dots – they all distract. We don’t notice everything we see.

Shneiderman’s Mantra: Overview first > Zoom & Filter > Details on demand Visual anaylsis should be at the speed of thought.

Visual encoding: A human’s visual working is extremely limited, we can only remember 3/4 chunks of imformation at a time – don’t overload people.

Graphics are a means to an end, not the end itself.