Over the course of the term, we've made a number of different visualizations during lectures. While the primary goal of the lectures was never to create a polished, publishable visualization, it's never a bad idea to consider what changes it would take to prepare a visualization for publication and sharing. In this activity, you will take an existing lecture demo and change, augment, and add content to make it ready for a web audience. Here are some factors to consider:
- Your audience is the general Internet population. We want these visualizations to go viral on Twitter or r/dataisbeautiful.
- Follow best principles with regards to visual channels, use of color, space, etc.
- Add visual elements and annotations when necessary to help users understand what is going on.
- Add interactivity to deepen the experience and address missing user needs (e.g. seeing point details).
- Add non-visualization elements like supporting text and data tables to improve the user experience.
- If your group disapproves of the visualization as a whole for the data, come up with something better!
Please follow this procedure:
Step 1 - 12 minutes - [GROUP] Pick visualization and critique
Step 2 - 10 minutes - [INDIV] Sketch improvements
- As a group, look at each of the visualization choices and choose one to improve.
- Together, take a look at the visualization and critique it based on the common pattern we have used in past critiques (included at the bottom). Identify between 3 and 5 specific areas that are in need of improvement (e.g. deepening interactivity, improving a visual channel, adding supporting contents).
- Rank those areas in order of importance using any method you'd like
Step 3 - 15 minutes - [GROUP] Final design
- Now, working individually, begin making either one sketch of an improved visualization or a series of idea sketches for each improvement area. Keep them low fidelity and focus on the specific critique items to which you are responding.
- Refer back to the visualization and your critique.
- Keep polishing your ideas until your group reconvenes.
- As a group, go around and discuss each person's sketches. Keep it to 1 minute per sketch.
- Working together, create a consensus design sketch. You will need to pick a group member to record your final idea and present it to the class, but everyone should sketch as they go.
- We will reconvene at the end to check out everyone's improved visualizations.
Design critique can take any number of forms. Some outline pros and cons, or identify particular visual elements and break them down. Others start with the data and discuss the construction of the visualization from the ground up. In your group, feel free to set up whatever norms you prefer for design criticism.
Here are some questions to help guide your critique:
- What kind of data is the visualization presenting?
- What is the purpose of this visualization?
How has the designer tailored this visualization to meet particular user information needs or goals?
- Does this visualization require training/study to work, or is it immediately effective?
- How are the data encoded into visual form? Does the author use specific visual channels (in)effectively to represent certain dimensions?
- What design trade-offs are present in the visualization? Are they emphasizing some part of the data at the expense of something else?
- How is interaction employed in this visualization? Are there any trade-offs that come from introducing interactions? Are the interactions helpful?
- Do you feel that this visualization is successful? What elements help make it effective, and what hurt its effectiveness?
- What’s missing from the visualization that would improve it? Is any element of the visualization misleading or at risk of misinterpretation?
- How would you do things differently if you were to re-design it?