We reside in a world full of information. Stats, info, numbers, and even our personal ideas will be laborious to sift by, not to mention convey to others in a transparent, concise means. Inevitably, this bleeds into the way in which we work and turns right into a sea of data we’ve got to synthesize each day. But right here’s the excellent news: design will help.
In her fascinating new ebook, The Secret Language of Maps, Carissa Carter highlights three totally different mapping methods for anybody who has to navigate loads of data of their work, be it a yearly report or a homicide thriller (no, actually). Complete with pleasant illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Jeremy Nguyen, the ebook teaches you methods to use visible methods to make information extra accessible and extra compelling—even should you don’t have a cartography diploma.
Carter is the tutorial director and an adjunct professor on the Stanford d.faculty, the place she teaches programs on the intersection of information and design, maps, and the visible sorting of data. She argues that any data introduced visually and organized spatially counts as a map, be it infographics, charts, frameworks, or timelines. It simply depends upon how you employ them.
Experiment with type
We all know what a bar chart seems like, however does it need to be fabricated from rectangles? A chart in regards to the various sugar content material in comfortable drinks may tackle a complete new that means if the bars have been changed by lollipops. Similarly, a chart that entails folks may very well be extra highly effective if every bar was a hand. “The minute you add a series of hands with different postures, that’s a layer of meaning,” says Carter.
The similar considering will be utilized to the dimensions and dimensions of your illustration. Is what you’re making an attempt to say greatest conveyed on a paper or a laptop computer display screen? Or wouldn’t it be extra compelling if illustrated on an unconventionally formed canvas or a 3D map—perhaps an object that may be held within the palm of your hand, or an immersive VR expertise, or perhaps a pop-up set up?
Build nuance into your visualizations
Yes, your information issues, however the way in which you current it issues, too. You may draw your map on the pc or by hand, and every technique could have a special impact. “The minute you show super high-resolution conveys this is perfect and complete,” says Carter. “When you draw something by hand, and your line isn’t perfect; that’s implying that data isn’t perfect either.” Data journalist Mona Chalabi‘s hand-drawn graphics demonstrate this strategy perfectly. “With her hand-drawn [maps], she is showing you that the boundaries of the data are imperfect.”
Color and scale matter just the same. A black-and-white graphic scribbled on a Post-It Note will be interpreted differently than if it was printed in full color on a billboard. Colors also elicit different kinds of emotions. An amusing illustration in the book suggests that a red car might imply “I need you to see me,” whereas a green car means “I was on sale.”
Think beyond charts
Charts are useful, but they’re restricted in scope. Venn diagrams will help you introduce difficult relationships between seemingly unrelated issues (they usually don’t need to be fabricated from circles). Continua (a line with two factors on both finish) lets you arrange information in a chronological timeline, or in a means that explores contrasts. A nested framework can be utilized to discover the boundaries of your topic, and the way it sits throughout the bigger context (consider it as a real-life model of Russian dolls). And a magic quadrant (with a vertical and a horizontal axis) will help you overlay plenty of variables.
“Each one of them is a tool for exploration,” says Carter–and every software will help you spotlight one thing in a different way. “In the same way you go to the eye doctor, and they flip the lenses and for a while it’s blurry and then all of a sudden, that works,” she says. “You want to look at the information you have and map it in different ways.”