Effective data visualization for non-designers and other mere mortals

Jorge Camoes, Effective data visualization

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13 Lessons (1h)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What is data visualization, anyway?

    • 3. The Spanish Hostel

    • 4. Active search for meaning

    • 5. A Non-Linear Process

    • 6. Chart Types

    • 7. Sort, Rank & Proportions

    • 8. Time Series and Relationships

    • 9. Beyond the Single Chart

    • 10. Design for Effectiveness

    • 11. Functional Color

    • 12. Resources

    • 13. Conclusions


Project Description

The Project

The project is a before-after comparison, so ideally it should start before you watch the video lessons. Select or make a chart that you can share and that reflects how you/your organization visualizes data currently.  After watching the video lessons, tell us what could be changed to improve the chart or redesign it.

Upload the chart(s) and comment on the changes. Here are a few topics you could discuss:

  • Was it the right chart type to convey the message?
  • Is the chart effective at delivering it?
  • Are there unnecessary effects?
  • Is color used with a purpose and aligned with the question?
  • How do the supporting objects (axis, gridlines) help reading the chart?
  • Does it need a legend?
  • Does it need annotations?
  • Is the chart a trustworthy transcription of the data table?



  1. Introduction
    1. My book: Data at Work: Best practices for creating effective charts and information graphics in Microsoft Excel.: Amazon, Publisher.
    2. OECD Better Life Index
  2. What is data visualization
  3. The Spanish hostel
    1. Elijah Meeks: The 7 Kinds of Data Visualization People
    2. Stephen Few redesigns David McCandless’ chart.
    3. My post: Beautiful but Terrible Population Pyramids
  4. Understanding
  5. A Non-Linear Process
  6. Chart Types
    1. The R Graph Gallery
  7. Sort, Rank and Proportions
    1. Wikipedia article: Population by State
    2. The famously bad pie chart
  8. Time Series and Relationships
    1. National Snow & Ice Data Center: Chartic Interactive Sea Ice Graph
    2. Gapminder charts
    3. Paper: Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates by Franz H. Messerli, M.D.
  9. Beyond the single chart
    1. Milestones in the History of Thematic Cartography, Statistical Graphics, and Data Visualization
    2. Paper on Horizon Charts: Sizing the Horizon: The Effects of Chart Size and Layering on the Graphical Perception of Time Series Visualizations by Jeffrey Heer1, Nicholas Kong2, and Maneesh Agrawala
    3. Paper: The Eyes  Have It: A Task by Data  Type  Taxonomy for Information  Visualizations, by Ben Shneiderman
    4. Stephen Few: Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring
  10. Design
    1. Get the data on food availability from the USDA: Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System
  11. Color
    1. A great post on color by Lisa Charlotte Rost: Your Friendly Guide to Colors in Data Visualisation
    2. Simulating color blindness: the Color Oracle
    3. Color palettes: Color Brewer
  12. Resources
    1. Tools
      1. Microsoft Excel
      2. JMP (“jump”)
      3. Spotfire
      4. Tableau
      5. PowerBI
      6. Qlik
      7. Flourish
      8. Datawrapper
      9. Raw Graphics
      10. Google Charts
      11. Charticulator
      12. Data Illustrator
      13. Adobe Illustrator
      14. Datylon
    2. Conferences
      1. R-Studio Conference
      2. Information+
      3. Malofiej
      4. OpenVis
      5. Tapestry
      6. Encode
    3. Recent Books
      1. Sandra Rendgen: The Minard System: The Complete Statistical Graphics of Charles-Joseph Minard
      2. RJ Andrews: Info We Trust: How to Inspire the World with Data
      3. Kieran Healy: Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction
      4. Nathalie Henry Riche (Editor), Christophe Hurter (Editor), Nicholas Diakopoulos (Editor) Data-Driven Storytelling
      5. Robert Grant Data Visualization: Charts, Maps, and Interactive Graphics
      6. Bruce Berkowitz: Playfair: The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World
      7. Kenneth Field: Cartography
      8. Alberto Cairo: How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information
  13. Conclusions





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