- [Instructor] In this video, we're going to be skimming the surface of a very large subject, fair warning. Once you decide to go interactive, what technology do you use? There are so many choices. There's like a billion different technologies out there with a billion features and benefits. This could be a course really on it's own. This video is going to outline some of the big issues to think about and point to a few of the technologies that are out there for you to use today. So, this might sound familiar, but, what I'm going to say to you is that the first rule when thinking about technology is don't think about technology.
Kind of like when you're thinking about being interactive, you don't want to think about interactivity. You don't want to think about features and benefits and functionality. You want to think about your audience. You want to think about your goals. That should drive every decision you're making, including and especially when you're picking technologies to work in. If you think about them, your goals and your audience, as well as your own technical capabilities and options, then the options available to you in terms of technology will almost reveal themselves, in many cases. So, here are a bunch of questions that you should really think about when trying to pick technologies.
So the first one is am I creating a one-off? Is this a short-term need? Is this a static need? I'm going to build it once and sort of throw it out, never use it again. Or am I creating something that needs to be reusable? It's sort of a permanent entity. It's going to evolve over time. If it's a one-off, find the simplest technology. The thing you can generate and create the most quickly, and don't worry about reusability or scalability. It's that simple. Otherwise, you have to pick a much more robust and modular and reusable and scalable technology.
The next one is to think about your audience. Am I dealing with technophobic, old-fashioned and under-gadgetized people? Or more modern and techno-driven and gadget-laden folks? Right, am I dealing with people who are carrying blackberries and using IA6 on their computers or are they a little bit more current than that? So many choices are going to revolve around your audience and their device compatibility. This is huge. It always has been and always will be. For instance, a couple of examples, if your audience is going to be using an IOS, right, they have iPhones and iPads, then you can't use Flash, simple.
Or if they're on IE7 or older versions of Internet Explorer, you can't use SVG, which is scalable vector graphics, which a lot of visualization technologies use. Again, simple decisions can be made based on your audience's device compatibility. Another question is am I just creating simple, straightforward graphs? Or do I need to create something very complex and custom? Just from a visual standpoint? Art charts, as compared to crazy visual shapes and forms that maybe out-of-the-box software isn't going to support.
Another important question, you know, look at yourself. Do you have the technical capabilities to pull off what you think you want to build? You either have it or you don't, or maybe you could learn it, but if you don't have the capacity or the time to learn it right now, can you really pull off something custom? And as I've mentioned in other videos in this course, there are plenty of options out there for creating visualizations, even if you don't have deep, technical capabilities. Software platforms like Tableau Software or Qlick View. These two software packages can import data and create really interesting dashboards in fairly packaged ways for you, quite easily, and do offer some customization as well.
Or Gephi, an opensource platform for creating network visualizations, which I've mentioned before. There are also these great packages like Highcharts, and Zing Charts that let you create all different types of standard forms of visualizations. Again, very simple and an easy with very limited technical skills. In addition to your own technical capabilities, you should consider ongoing support. Who's going to take this thing over when you're done with it? Right, you're creating this maybe for a client, you're going to hand it off to them, are they going to be maintaining it? So, if its just going to be you maintaining it, then you could do whatever you want, right? You know you have the abilities to manage whatever technology you create.
But if you're going to be handing it off to another team, the conscientious thing to do is to pick technology that's easy to learn, and, or, probably better, is something that's a standard, right? Something that will let them have high odds of finding people now and preferably down the road, people who are familiar with exactly that technology. So, in data visualization, there are a lot of technologies still out there. Nothing has grabbed the entire marketplace, but of all the technologies out there that seeming to become quite a standard, it's D3.
And so for instance, if you're delivering this to a client, do they have a technical infrastructure in place that you have to adhere to? Maybe they're an all Microsoft shop and so you have to have build something in Dot Net and SQL Server for them. Maybe they don't allow opensource software or conversely, maybe they're an all opensource company and therefor can't use anything other than opensource. A lot of companies also have very strict device compatibility requirements. So, for instance, I have a client who has IE7 as a requirement, but it's not normal IE7.
They all use IE8, but they use it in IE7 compatibility mode. It's a very specific, odd setup. But I know that going into it, so I know to use technology that's compatible for that type of browser. So, selecting technology is a nuance to process. There are always one or two at the top of the list, like for me, I use D3 quite a bit, as I said. I do custom work, I have the technical skills to pull it off. I like to push the envelope a little bit. But there are also other technologies that I find myself going to when D3 won't do what I need it to do.
For instance, I'm doing some map and it'd be easier or faster to work with Mapbox and Leaflet. This conversation with yourself about technology will never stop. Right, there's new stuff coming out all the time. Technologies change, requirements change. So, in the end, you're going to have to always go through this, every time you do your project, think about the technology. Second guess your assumptions about the choices you might make. Be thoughtful, be client-focused. Pick what works for your audience and for the people who are going to have to manage the technology in the longterm. And you really can't go wrong.
- Describe the process by which individuals’ interests are incorporated into data visualizations.
- Differentiate the use of the Ws in data visualization.
- Explain techniques involved in defining your narrative when visualizing data.
- Identify the factors that make data visualizations relatable to an audience’s interests and needs.
- Review the appropriate use of charts in data visualizations.
- Define the process involved in applying interactivity to data visualizations.