Project 5 Infoviz – The Next Step

This is not the homework for Monday 10/11. Read this post for that.

Once you have your data, your job is to design and create, using Illustrator, an economical visualization of your data. For your sample set, it would be ideal for you to represent the results of all three sub-queries. You should definitely show at least two.

The goal is to help us learn something about your data, to tell a story in a way that contains ZERO extraneous information.

You may use any method of visualization you like, as long as you create it in Illustrator. (There’s no trick to using Illustrator for these things, btw – just manually set your dimensions and locations for each object.)

There are few standard modes of visualization that you would do well to start with, even if you decide to depart from them in some way. The hardest part of this project is choosing which mode best suits your data. Some steps follow below to guide you in this process. You might consider browsing the whole gamut of types included on the site for the popular info-viz tool Many Eyes, which is as good a taxonomy as any.

Along these lines, my guess is that you will be best served in this project by either the Scatter Plot or the Matrix Chart, though the Bar, Line, Stack or Treemap might also help you.

Here’s how I could go about the process:

1. You would be wise to create an Excel spreadsheet to start your project. Through sorting by column for each axis of your data, you can learn trends you might want to bring out in the image. Also, you can use the spreadsheet later to set measurements and coordinates for use in Illustrator.

2. Ask of your data: what stories do you want to tell?

– if comparison over a temporal sequence plays a role, then you might want to consider a linear format with a strong X-axis. Scatterplots, Bar and Line charts all might be well suited to showing changes over time.

– if quantity in comparison plays a strong role (even metaphorical quantities, such as “Bad, Very Bad, Worst”) Then you’ll need to get the viewer to feel that change through relative spaces. Treemaps can work well for this, as can most anything with circles.

– Prioritize your stories: If you’re shooting to show all three sets of data, decide which two are most interesting in comparison, and which one might work well as a separate layer. That’s how Scatter Plots can work, for example – the X and Y axis get compared to one another through each dot’s plot on the map, while the size or color of the dot gets read first as its own layer.

– Any given chart can be altered through removing an axis or taking one away.

3. Once you’ve had a look at your data, isolated the stories, do some sketching by hand. Try out some different scenarios. It may even be that you can think of other ways of framing your sub-queries that would produce more useful results.

4. When you’re ready with a design, start an Illustrator file by establishing a scale for yourself (ie, 1 inch = 10x more of something). Then go ahead and determine the exact measurements, color and location for each item in your database before creating it in Illustrator.

Lastly, some examples for inspiration and information:

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