Introduction to Data Visualization skillshare originals badge

Ben Gibson, Co-founder, Pop Chart Lab

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15 Lessons (44m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Concepting & Brainstorming

    • 3. Conducting Research

    • 4. Organizing Data

    • 5. Starting Your Document

    • 6. Creating Title Type

    • 7. Initial Layout

    • 8. Refining a Design

    • 9. Editing & Refining

    • 10. Applying Dynamic Type

    • 11. Building Illustrative Elements

    • 12. Secondary Visual Elements

    • 13. Background Element

    • 14. Final Art DIrection

    • 15. Upload & Share

16 students are watching this class

Project Description

Design a basic data visualization

Concepting and Brainstorming

  1. Pick a range of topics that resonate with you

    Pick an initial range of topics that you find interesting. Start with broad fields like literature, film, tech gadgetry, or culinary arts. Compile a list of anything you like within those categories. It helps to pick things that are visual in nature so they can be demonstrated with graphics.

    Share your concept and list on your project page. Ask for feedback, or recommendations for additional items. Browse the lists of your classmates and bubble up ideas they may have missed.

Research: Data and Visual

  1. Conduct research

    Use internet tools like Wikipedia and Google to research raw data for your topic. Try reaching out to specific experts, or your classmates, for their knowledges. 

    Don’t become satisfied with your initial search. The more information you have to cull from the better. Let your curiosity lead you to data sets you had not initially thought existed.

    Create a word document for dumping all of your data.

  2. Create a spreadsheet

    Create a spreadsheet and start to curate your data. Be cognizant of categories and subcategories that arise while you’re organizing information.

Layout Architecture

  1. Start your visual document

    Create a new document with the final dimensions of your data visualization in mind. Pop Chart Lab specializes in printed posters. The standard sizes for posters are 12 x 16”, 18 x 24”, 24 x 36”, 27 x 39” (movie one-sheet size).

    Assign global styles for colors and fonts to your work space. This will allow you to easily make changes when you want to edit.


  2. Layout rough designs

    Use the grid to create a foundation for your layout. Do a range of different layouts.  Keep it simple at this point. Just think about the structure, or the architecture, of the design.

Editing & Refining

  1. Refine your layout

    Ask yourself  the following questions:

    Is there enough there to hold interest? Is it visually interesting enough? Is it informationally or editorially interesting enough?

    Use global settings to apply typographical and color changes that will create visual interest. You won’t have to make finishing touches at this point. You'll add more details in the following unit.

Stylistic Elements

  1. Dive deep into title type

    Explore a  few directions with your title type. Layout a series of type approaches. Do you want your title to seem playful? Academic? Grungey? Or professional?

  2. Add illustrative elements

    What additional elements can you add to create a visual story? There’s room for a lot of creativity that can be executed by adding simple images. Try using color blocks to create “flat style” illustrations. Simple is good so be discerning as to which details you include. Reference images are helpful if you need it.

  3. Add secondary visual elements

    What other visual elements can you add to your design? Give thought to how individual elements can become an integral part of your design. At this point, you’ll start to get into the granular aspects. Diversify your color palette and add more detailed image types to create better visual dynamics.

    Step back from your design and look for empty space. What can you add to that space?

  4. Add a background element

    Create a background element that ties your infographic together.

Final Art Direction

  1. Conduct art directing

    Become your own art director/editor and reassess your overall design. Or ask one of your peers to give you critical feedback. Take a hard and honest look, discounting the time and effort you spent on the design. Is there any additional information that you need to research in order to create a comprehensive graphic? Don’t be afraid to backtrack.

Upload & Share

  1. Share your data

    Share your final infographic with your classmates. See if you can find someone who approached a similar topic differently. Explore their reasoning.

    But don’t stop there. There’s a world of data visualization communities to explore. Try uploading your work to platforms like, Buzzfeed, Boing Boing, I Love Charts, and Visual News.

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