Some types of charts and graphs aren't often seen, and generally for good reason. Amy Balliett explains how to tell when a chart or graph is too complex, and what happens when form comes before function in the world of data visualization.
- [Instructor] When explaining how to use pie charts, I showed how you could create visuals that use different sized circles to display data. I mentioned that I would talk about this type of data visualization in a future video and here it is. My lesson about charts and graphs to avoid. Not all charts and graphs are created equal and this chart is a great example of what I mean. To better explain, here are some examples of this type of chart out in the wild.
Beyond potentially being completely inaccurate like this first example, this type of data visualization has a few other glaring issues. First, everything is being compared to a mythical 100% element. Something that is meant to be full size to which all of these items pail in comparison. This forces you to imagine that full size element. Second, it's not the easiest to reproduce. So in many instances, the amounts are completely inaccurate.
For example, this water droplet above the hands is supposedly 27% in size, but it doesn't look like it's 27% of that 96% which is the closest to 100% that's available in this entire design. Often people use different shapes and images and just change their height to show the value. This further confuses the message and doesn't properly represent the data since everything has a different width.
Speaking of different heights and widths, you should also avoid filling in non-uniform objects to depict a percentage. Here are some examples of what I mean. Without a lot of complicated math and planning, there is no real way of knowing whether or not you are correctly filling the object to the exact percentage you are trying to display. Visuals like this definitely put form over function and should be avoided. Now it's time I embarrass myself a little bit. When I first started my company, Killer Infographics, I was a big fan of putting form over function, or as I called it then, delivering the eye candy.
I was so sure that charts and graphs could be pushed to the limit of visual flare, that I even wrote a smashing magazine article about it and I was rightfully criticized because of it. In that article, I talked about ways to dress up simple charts and graphs to make them more visually appealing. These examples now fall in my charts and graphs to avoid bucket though. If you have to twist your head to read the data, do any form of math to make sense of what you're looking at, or are consistently looking for a point of comparison to make the data meaningful, then you likely aren't using the right chart or graph.
I'm still a fan of making charts and graphs that look visually appealing which I'll discuss in a future video in this course, but making unnatural design choices leads to a confused audience, and therefore, should be avoided.
To succeed in design and marketing today, one must know how to interpret and properly visualize data. This course, developed and led by Killer Infographics CEO, Amy Balliett, walks you through the ins and outs of creating accurate and compelling data visualizations. Amy focuses on best practices, not tools, although she does provide an overview of Illustrator graphing features. Using these tips, you'll learn how to stand out from the crowd and create charts and graphs that combine precision with visual appeal.
- What charts and graphs work best for different types of data
- Putting data into visual and textual context to ensure it is accurate
- Visualizing data that doesn't lend itself to imagery
- Adding visual appeal without sacrificing accuracy
- Using the Adobe Illustrator graphing tools
- Avoiding common data viz mistakes