All Those Who Sinfully Create a 3-Dimensional Pie Chart Shall Burn in Hell.

No, really.  There was a very useful session on “Data Visualization: Creating Beautiful, Elegant and Descriptive Visual Displays” at the ONW conference.  Jackie Wirz from OHSU gave us a beautiful and humorous presentation which really made me think about this other aspect of design found within academic work (not just libraries, but ALL research has the potential to create good OR really hideous visual representations of their data).  The above is a good example of what not to do, according to Ms. Wirz who said something to the effect of what I’ve entitled this blog posting.  Some things to remember when you create a visual of any kind:

  1. No 3-D pie charts.  It makes it more complicated for the human brain to understand for NO reason.  Volume is difficult for us to process and so should be used very sparingly, definitely not in the case of a pie chart.
  2. Quantitative and qualitative data exist on a spectrum of sorts and can be separated or combined depending on the actual goal of the visualization.
  3. Avoid visual clutter!
  4. Choose color wisely and avoid red if you can.
  5. Notepad works wonders for “cleaning” data sets copied from the internet because it gets rid of coding that would muck it up in Excel.
  6. Choose the use of dots, lines, and bars appropriately.
  7. Sometimes a visual isn’t the answer. A chart is.
  8. Make the chart fit the data, not the data fit a specific kind of chart (see #6).

It has been a minute since I looked at this site, but Indexed was brought up during this presentation and reminded me how simple and fun creating visuals can be.  I LOVE creating visuals and I hope that some of this comes in handy for others who enjoy it as well.

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