Visual Thinking: Drawing Data to Communicate Ideas | Catherine Madden | Skillshare

Visual Thinking: Drawing Data to Communicate Ideas

Catherine Madden, Information Designer, Artist, and Doodler

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
13 Lessons (1h 5m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:35
    • 2. Your Project

      2:30
    • 3. What is Visual Thinking?

      7:15
    • 4. Basic Shapes Warm-Up

      8:10
    • 5. Core Journey

      5:42
    • 6. Mind Mapping

      6:17
    • 7. Two-Factor Bar Chart

      3:27
    • 8. Three-Factor Bar Chart

      3:21
    • 9. Scatter Plots

      6:09
    • 10. Charts That Tell a Story

      7:28
    • 11. Visual Possibilities

      9:21
    • 12. Closing

      2:08
    • 13. Bonus: Further Resources

      1:38
383 students are watching this class

About This Class

Dive into functional drawing! Join information designer and artist Catherine Madden for a 60-minute class demystifying how drawing can help you communicate ideas clearer, faster, and stronger.

As she draws everyday data into friendly stories and charts, you'll learn how a few simple moves can help you organize your ideas, extend your brainstorming, and communicate complex concepts simply (and effectively) to audiences of every size.

This class is ideal for:

  • a designer, writer, or artist eager to share stories in a visual way
  • a creative team looking to communicate and collaborate faster
  • an entrepreneur honing a persuasive pitch

Use this class to learn functional drawing techniques and unlock the power of visual thinking!

6dcb71eb

Image courtesy of Catherine Madden

_________

Throughout the class, Catherine uses Paper and Pencil by FiftyThree, but you're welcome to bring any tool or approach!

FiftyThree builds mobile creation tools that help users to sketch, write, draw, outline, and color on the iPad. Curious for more? Check out Digital Drawing Workout: The Art of Subtraction with Shantell Martin, also presented in collaboration with FiftyThree.

___________________

Looking for more inspiration? Head here to discover more classes on drawing.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Catherine Madden and I design data visualization, information and user experience. I generally try to use visuals to facilitate creating new ideas and helping people make decisions with data. Today, I'm going to be talking about visual thinking and the power it can add to anybody's skill set in their job, and the exercise that we're going to do is really focused on drawing data in a way that helps you understand the concept better and helps you visualize that information to communicate a message to an audience. So, you don't need any prior experience visualizing data. Definitely, don't need to know how to draw, that's what I'm here to help you do today. I will be using FiftyThree's app called Paper and their stylus called Pencil, but you could also do this with a piece of paper and a marker or a pen. I truly believe that anybody can do this, anybody can draw their ideas and get more ideas and be a visual thinker. They just have to stretch those muscles a little bit. The project in this class is to visualize your commute. If you don't want to visualize your commute but you have some other journey that you know well and you've done a lot and you have a lot of information in your head about what that is, that's fine as well. But in this class, I really hope that you feel empowered through drawing to come up with better ideas, come up with more ideas, and to feel comfortable sharing those with other people. 2. Your Project: The project for this class is going to be to draw a journey and the journey that I'm going to draw, as an example, as my commute. So, you'll think about typically as a point A to point B geography type of thing at first. So, I'm starting my commute in Dupont Circle in Washington DC and I go to Arlington, Virginia. But, there's so many other ways to think about this and the challenge will be map out all of the different ways you can think about a commute, so time, weather, money, predictability, convenience, all those things, and then we want to visualize each one of those different things in a new way. So, we'll generate a lot of ideas very quickly. It's a hand-drawn form of prototyping. I chose this assignment in the context of functional drawing and data because it's really easy to come up with many different ways and many different visuals. If you think about any sort of journey, there's the traditional way of thinking of it and drawing it, but then if you actually challenge yourself you're going to generate a lot of ideas and it's something that everybody can relate to whether it is if you go from point A to point B every single day or if you're planning out a trip to Europe and you want to figure out how do you most effectively or cost effectively get from point A to point B, you can use visual drawing to help you get there. One of the things that I'm really looking forward to seeing is just people who can bring something completely new to the table. Something I had never thought about in my study and that happens all the time in my work environment and when it does it's pretty great because if you combine what you're thinking with someone else's completely unique mind, you get some really great blended ideas. Another thing I'm looking for is how creative people get if they've invented a new type of data visualization that doesn't exist out there and I think I did one of these in my project, but I'd be really interested to see if other people come up with new ways of visualizing information because there isn't a standard set of charts that you can choose from. People invent new types of data visualizations regularly and if they are really effective at communicating your idea, then other people will start trying it out too. 3. What is Visual Thinking?: Before I get into the class project and the warm-up activity, I want to talk to you a little bit about what I think visual thinking is and how it can apply to you. About 90 percent of the people I worked with, maybe even more, lack this skill of functional drawing, so with all of these hundred people maybe ten out of those are really comfortable or at least brave enough to try drawing their ideas and showing them and using them as a communication tool. So, my goal for the class is to get this ten people to maybe fifty people and then at least half of us in the business world or in the education world are comfortable visualizing our ideas on behalf of ourselves and other people. The reason that most people are less comfortable drawing is a couple things. First of all, there's a myth out there that you are born an artist, so maybe one out of six people was lucky enough to be born with some artistic gene but that's really not true. Another thing is that drawing is considered to be disruptive when you're learning in school, so students who are doodling might get punished for doing such things where teachers might not understand that they're still paying attention, they're just kinesthetic learning or visually learning in order to better focus and better participate and digest the information. Another big reason that people feel uncomfortable drawing is in the work environment, we've been given tools like PowerPoint which are great to some degree, but they've really limited our visual vocabulary to the library of Chevrons and pyramids and cycles that you can choose from. So, rather than really think about is this the best way to visualize an idea, many people go into the library and PowerPoint or the chart types in Excel and they limit themselves to what's available to them within that tool set. I think that's something that people need to get more comfortable with working first outside of PowerPoint and then finding the right visual once they've determined what it is on pen and paper. My journey started out when I was in my first job, when I was a graphic designer, and I was in a lot of meetings where my role was to just listen and think about how I could translate the content into effective visuals. Most of the time, I would just sit in the room and doodle and most of the time it wasn't really relevant, it was what I call random doodling, I'm still listening but people look at me like, "Hey! You're being disrespectful and you're not really paying attention here." So, once I realized that's how it was being perceived, I tried to focus on relevant doodling, so how do I actually take what people are saying and capture it visually on my piece of paper and not being disruptive, I still appear to be paying attention and my notes provide a great reference point for later on when I need to go back and remember what people were talking about that day. Then finally, there was a point in time where I just began to stand up and use whatever was available to draw for everybody to see. I will tell you and in the words of Dan Roam, whoever draws the best picture wins has really proven to be true, I never had the best idea and just the one who stands up and draws my own and a lot of times that's what gets people moving in the direction that I suggest. So, functional drawing is really not about being pretty, or stylized, or creating a unique vision or brand, it's more about these four things. You want to increase the number of ideas that you have. You want to improve the speed to which you create prototypes and ideas, and also decrease the number of money you spend doing that by just roughly drawing it on paper. It also helps you increase your understanding of a concept by exploring it in different ways. So, Dan Roam talks in his book Blah-Blah-Blah by all the ways you could visualize an apple starting with simple going to an alternative idea, going to a more complex idea. So, if you try to view a certain topic from different angles, this will really help you increase your understanding. Then, the last thing is increase your ability to communicate. So, when you're using words, a lot of times your idea might not come across and if you use visuals combined with words, things tend to really click for people and you start to get other people contributing to that idea and creating better and more conversation. So, visual thinking in general is a way that you can increase your understanding of a topic, you can organize the thoughts that you have, and you can communicate a message clearly. One way and the way that we're going to focus on in this class is through drawing data. So, why would we draw data? First of all, it helps communicate and message your idea and it's fast, you can prototype really quickly, you don't have to spend time collecting data, preparing it in Excel, you don't have to choose the right visual, there's none of that you save time and you save money. But even better than that, nobody is checking your math, they're just looking at your visual to understand the high-level concept. The way that we want to talk about drawing data is to stop thinking about it in terms of the rows and columns that you're used to working with if you do a lot of data visualization, if you don't, don't worry about it. But we've got these tools that we are used to using digitally like Excel, we're not going to go there, we're also not going to try and think only through the charts that are available in PowerPoint or Excel. Where we're going to start with is mapping out all of the different concepts that we could visualize, choosing a couple that tell a good story, and then creating simple hand-drawn visuals that looks something like this, that just show there's a relationship between variable x, variable y and all of the different choices or options that you have. This is how I envisioned visual thinking. So, on one side you've got visual analysis just to help you better understand a concept. On the other side, we've got visual communication where you want to communicate that concept to an audience. In between, we've got visual storytelling where you're engaging an audience with your analysis process and your message that you want to communicate which will ultimately influence them a little bit more than just communicating that visually. There's an implicit direction that we are ultimately doing visual thinking to communicate our ideas and so of an important consideration is your audience. While what we're gonna do in this class is come up with a ton of different ideas, the way that you can decide which one is working best is by putting in the framework of that audience and putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what do they want to know and how do they like to communicate and digest information and that will help you decide how and which visuals that will work best for that. 4. Basic Shapes Warm-Up: So, now I want to get you warmed up. I want to get you comfortable in drawing just basic shapes and then we'll familiarize you with how you can turn those into things that are a little bit more complex but are still really rough functional drawings. Here we have five basic shapes that are the building blocks to any other more complicated drawing. We've got a circle, square, triangle, a line and a blob. In paper, it's really easy to create all five of these things with a couple of different tools. So, one I really like to use is the diagramming tool. If you haven't used it before, it's just in your palate if you swipe to the left, and zooming is really helpful and you can just basically draw any shape and it will smooth it out and make it look really good circle, square, triangle, rectangle, line, and then I like to use this Fill tool to do a blob because it's really easy to fill in things. So, the next thing that we can show is how to turn these shapes into other objects. So, when we're thinking about visual thinking, there's two different types of things you could draw, one of them would be representational of an object, a person, or something that exists in real life that you want to portray. So, let's say you draw a circle but you really want to draw a person. So, you can create their basic shape with a circle, a rectangle and then a container. This looks like somebody's Facebook profile photo, and it's basic, it doesn't really have any details, no face, nothing, but most people would look at this and understand that is representational of a person. Another example of how you can represent something through drawing is maybe you're talking about something technological and you want to show that somebody is working on a computer or this is an idea that could be portrayed on a computer. So, if you want to draw a computer, just follow my steps. You start with a rectangle, then you create a trapezoid, another rectangle and then draw one more rectangle inside the screen. Again, no real details, no keyboard, no track pad, but most people can look at this and realize I have represented a computer. The second thing that we talked about was more abstract concepts and ideas that aren't actually representational, they are depicting a relationship between two things or a connection between one idea and another. So, a way that you can do that using paper is maybe if there's a starting point, point A, point B and there are a series of obstacles in between. We could just use basic shapes and then connectors to communicate visually what the relationship is. So, the big difference here is one thing is an object, it's easy to recognize what it means in real life, another thing doesn't exist in real life, but we're drawing it to make it more clear what that idea or concept is. So, if you're new to this, you might be a little bit nervous about using representational drawings, and that makes total sense. So, you're probably thinking well, my computer doesn't look like the computer that you drew or I don't know if my or people that are looking at this they're going to understand what I drew. So, you're going to feel more naturally inclined to start with something more abstract like what we've done here, which is great and totally fine. But you might just want to think about it's actually okay to draw things that are rough and ugly and don't look like the comic books that you see or the other drawings created by professional illustrators, because that's not the point here. So, I think I would encourage you to push yourself, if necessary, if you need to draw a portrait or a person, you could try your rough go at maybe drawing this computer but then you'd also write with text, Laptop. That helps you clarify the thing that you tried to draw. But let's say we want to get a little bit more fun and just draw things that make us feel more creative. So, take any color out of your palette. This is an activity I like to do. I learned it from Austin Cleon on his website. If you just draw like a bunch of random squiggles on your page that don't look like anything, and look at them and think about how can I make this a chicken? All you have to do is draw a beak, and eye, and two little feet and this is a really fun drawing warm up activity for anyone who just wants to get a little bit more comfortable drawing and have some fun and come up with some cute little birds. So, take some time and just take a page and try and fill it up with a bunch of random shapes and see if you can turn them into different charts. This time I'll try to use a circle into a doughnut chart. So, all you have to do is basically draw a circle and a bunch of pie slices. Maybe you could use the fill tool on a way to show movement as an arrow from one to the other, just randomly fill things in, just to get comfortable with the interface and the different techniques you can use. One thing I really like is using the diagramming tool to create Venn diagrams. I'm a little bit all over the place here. But that's kind of the idea. You just kind of want to play around and see the way that you can try different tools and draw different things but really I'm going to walk you through these in more detail, I just want you to get comfortable playing and being creative and flexible. So, one of the reasons I really love using paper is that it has a couple of different tools they've recently introduced that make it super fast and more precise, and it cleans up my drawings for me, so I don't really have to think about it. So, the first thing you'd try if you want to do this is the diagramming tool and it basically takes any rough shape that you draw and cleans it up. So, here's a quick circle. If I want to do a Venn diagram, I can draw another circle, and then use the fill to only fill the color on the inside and I can play around with different colors here, and it's a really fast way to create basic diagrams. If you're comfortable or want to get better at representational drawing, there's a lot of resources that you can find, and I'll be sharing them as part of this class, and the resources to get better and get more ideas. One thing to keep in mind is it's going to be a lot about muscle memory. So, if you do some research and you find how do I draw an iPad, the more times you do it, the more naturally it'll come to you and then you'll be able to do it very quickly in front of a group of people without even actually thinking about it. Sometimes if I think of a concept that I need to draw, like empathy or concern or like a team, anything that's maybe a little bit more abstract but still could be representational, I'll go to the nounproject.com and peruse all the different icons that are there and try out drawing the way that people have done them as actual digital icons, but using my own hand-drawn flair to it. 5. Core Journey: Okay. So, now we're getting ready to move into the project. What we're doing for the project is visualizing your commute or any sort of journey that you take on a regular basis. Something that you know well. The reason that we're doing this project is because it provides an easy starting point. Something that a lot of people can relate to and they have a lot of their own data and information about. So, let's start by thinking about a commute from your standard point A to point B geographic representation. But then we're going to move into thinking about what other information we could layer on top of that, and working through as many different ways that you can visualize your commute as possible that aren't geographic. That will give you a visual library and create a lot more ideas that you didn't even think about originally. All right. So, what you're going to do if you're using paper is to create a new page. Just create a quick title on the page, My Journey or My Commute. The first drawing that we want to do is a visual geographic representation. So, this does not have to be an actual map that looks like your house or your street and the exact turns that you take every time you go. You just want to show that you're starting in a place and ending in another place. So, I like to do this by drawing a container like a rectangle and then having two pins on a map. So, this pin will represent my house and this pin will represent my office. I'll take this white highlighter and draw like a typical route that I would take where I go East and then South, South-West, South-East from point A to point B. If you want to add extra detail, you might take another color and layer in some of the streets that are familiar to that neighborhood. So, I live near Dupont Circle, I'll draw that. Probably looks better with that pen. Here are some streets, that go in and out of DuPont Circle. There is a bunch of other streets in DC that go up and down, horizontal, diagonal they're really confusing. There's one big landmark on my commute and that is a river, and I have to cross it. So, I'll make sure that I draw that. Maybe a few other streets just to make it look like a pretty picture though that's not required. One thing else that I'd like to do is just draw a quick picture of what point A looks like. I zoomed in level. So I'm going make this move the whole map down a little bit and I'll draw my house really quickly. So, using the diagramming tool, I'm going to zoom in here. Start with a rectangle, do my front door, couple windows, my roof, I'm filling my roof to make it dark. So that's point A. Point B is a big old building which is a really fun representational drawing. If you just start with a rectangle and then all you have to do is draw the letter L across the top of the building. If you want to get the best use out of paper, you can copy this row of Ls and paste it all the way down. So, you've got a multistory skyscraper within ten seconds. So, let's just add a little bit of context here by labeling point A. Make sure you have the right tool selected, and labeling this home. Then label point B, work. You can do this any way you want. You don't actually have to use a map you can draw it with the landscape or any sort of other geography but this is your starting point. This is how you would typically think of your point A to point B journey. So, now we have a map if you take a look at it, obviously it's not going to be what someone uses to actually travel. We don't have anything here that labels streets because I didn't represent them exactly as they are. This isn't really that useful when you think about how do you visually represent your commute because for any audience, all they can see is like some cute pictures but they're not going to use it to make a decision or understand anything better because the map doesn't really provide that to them. The next thing we wanna do is think about other ways and other layers of information that we can add to actually make this really relevant to an audience. 6. Mind Mapping: The way that we can get started and thinking of other ways to visualize the commute is by drawing a mind map. If you're not familiar with what that is, it's really just taking everything in your head, everything that you know about this thing and writing it down and then trying to diagram the relationship between those objects. So, at the center of this page, I'm just going to write commute, because that is what we are describing and getting more information on. So, for my commute, we've already thought about it from point A to point B, which is home and office. But we can think about it in lots of other different ways. So, I've got for my commute a variety of options in terms of mode of transportation. So I'm going to write Options and then next to or nearby the word options, I'm going to list them out. I could Uber, I could drive my own car. If you take a bike, I could take the bus or I could ride the metro. In here, even within these options, when I'm talking about biking, I could either do bike share or I could take my own bike. If I'm taking the metro, I have two more choices. One is go to the station closest to me and then transfer, and the other would be to walk a little bit farther and have no transfer. Okay, so other than options, there's other things that could characterize my commute. So, let's think about it in terms of time. Some of these options are very slow, some of them are fast. So, let's say fast and slow, just as two different categories. We can also think about a commute from the perspective of cost. Some options are free. If I drive, I have to pay for parking, so that's expensive. There's an expensive category and then a cheap category. So, we've got time, money, options, actual location. Another concept for my commute is predictability. So, I know how long it's going to take me to bike to work pretty regularly but if something like traffic gets in the way and I'm in a cab, that'll make my commute a lot longer than I think. So, we could just call this high predictability, medium, or low. Then, another factor with the commute could be the weather. If it's raining or if it's cold, I'm going to choose one or the other option. Rain, if it's really hot, I probably won't ride my bike. So, rain, hot, cold, and then perfect weather. So right now, I just have a bunch of words on a page, because I want to kind of get them into logical groups, I might need to move some things around to create more space. So I'll do that now, and then this is the fun stuff. I'll start with the color yellow and I'll choose the Fill Tool, and I'll just create little blobs around each word and categorize them. So, I move over to cost and circle these as green blobs, and now we're going to create our spider web, tie everything together. So go back to this darker color, the same one that I used to write. First, I'll start with my different characteristics. Weather, predictability, and then within each one, you can create the relationship between cost and then the three different types of cost or time and the two types of time. So now, we've got a mind map that shows a lot of different ways that you could think about a commute. What we want to do from here is to use this as a guide to start prototyping and visualizing your commute in all of these different ways. So, the first activity will start out by drawing our commute and choose three things that you've drawn on your mind map to move into a new type of visualization. So, if you're new to mind-mapping and you don't really know where to start, there's a ton of online resources that give you frameworks and allow you to enter some data and see how they're related or make that visual connection through an Online Tool. If there's something you're really comfortable with, it's super fun to do it in paper because you have limitless possibility. What you can do is do create one and then duplicate that page, move things around, see how you could think of it differently, you can add different layers to it. So, there's a lot of advantages to doing it in paper if you're comfortable starting there. So, it may seem strange that this activity starts with words and it's all actual vocabulary written out, whereas, we've been talking about how drawing is more powerful than words. But this is just a starting point, it's a place to download all the information that you have in your head. If you try to do this with drawings first, you wouldn't get as much information on the page as fast as you could if you're just sitting here writing the words out, and this is just going to be a guide to start visualization from here. In the context of this project, I wouldn't spend too much time on the mind map phase. You might find that as you go into some visualizations, you come up with new ways of thinking of your commute, and that's great, just go back to this page and add onto it. But, definitely try to exhaust all of the options that you can think of in five minutes or less, and get those on the page and then just move forward. 7. Two-Factor Bar Chart: Okay. So, now that we have our mind maps, I want to start by taking just two categories of information and creating a basic bar chart visualization. So, I'm going to start with the options as my different types of bars and then let's go with cost, how expensive each one of these options is. So, I'll create a new sheet and I'm just going to start out by writing the words for the options. So, we got a bike, we got a bus and just for fun I'm going to try to quickly visually represent each one of these things. So, for a bike I'm just going to draw two wheels, a seat and then a couple of lines to show how they intersect some handlebars. Then, for the bus I'll just draw a bus. So, this is just a fun way to have an icon that represents each one of the commute mods. The next thing I want to do is create my x axis which is the line and I'm going to move this whole thing down on the page so I have more space. I said first we're going to draw how expensive each option is. So, for a bike, if I take my own bike it's free so there will be no bar here, it'll just be a zero. For a bus, it cost me a dollar. Just draw like- This will be my baseline. One rectangle this size equals one dollar. The metro is about maybe four dollars. So, I'll try and create a rectangle that's roughly four times as big. That might not be perfect, but it's good enough. An Uber, will be about $10. So, then I want to go something like double the previous one. Again maybe not perfect, but that's fine. Then, if I drive it'll cost me $13 in parking plus some gas. So, I want to make that one even bigger. I might need to zoom out here so I can see it and fit it there we go. We can just fill these in, these basic green bars and I've got them in order which is nice of free to most expensive option. I think it's really helpful and really important to add labels here. So we're just going to say $1, $5, $10, $15 and to add one last piece of contexts we can add a quick label on this page that just says commute cost. 8. Three-Factor Bar Chart: So, our first bar chart is done and it's great because it just shows the different options and the comparative values of how much each of them would cost. But it doesn't really tell you much else. So, if you were trying to make a decision about which commute to make, and you are only thinking about money, this would be a great tool. But if you're also thinking about how much time you have if you're in a hurry, or you want to have a more leisurely experience, you'd want to layer on the time factor. So, let's move into that. I've got a little bit of space on this page. So, just because I want to keep this one as a reference, I'm going to duplicate the page, and I'm going to add on a second piece of information into this chart. So, next to each bar that indicates the costs, I'm going to add a second bar, and this will be a dual-axis bar chart. What that means is, there's an axis here, that's Y number one and that will represent money. Then, there's an axis over here, that's Y number two and that will represent time. You need that because time and money are different units. So, you've got dollars and you've got minutes. So, we'll start by going from left to right with the bike. I'll choose a different color to represent time. Just quickly reference back to my mind map to see. In my mind map it's blue, so we'll keep it consistent. So for a bike, I know that it takes me between 20 and 30 minutes. So, that'll be my baseline and I'll just draw a skinny rectangle to represent the 20 to 30 minute frame. Now, a bus is definitely a little bit longer. It's going to be 30 to 40 minutes. The Metro is about 25, so that's somewhere in between. Uber is pretty quick, maybe 15, so we'll go here. Again, it doesn't have to be perfect in terms of where it would fall on the Y-axis. Just to show you one is bigger or less than the other. Then, driving myself is probably pretty close to the same as Uber, but if I'm going directly to my car and not waiting for the Uber, it might be a little bit quicker, so I'll make that slightly smaller. Again, you want to just fill these bars in, and for sure make sure that they're labeled so people know when they're looking at it, this is not money, it's time. So, now we've got commute cost plus time. So, if I know I don't really want to spend a ton of money and I don't have a lot of time, I should probably consider biking because it's on, obviously, the lower end of money and in the middle of the time ranges. But if I don't really care, if I'm in a huge hurry, I'll spend more money to get there the fastest and drive. So, adding that second layer of information makes your decision a little bit more complex and informed. 9. Scatter Plots: So, we started with a bar chart because it's familiar to most people, you've probably seen, and created a lot of these before. But there's a lot of different ways that you can visualize this exact same information and perhaps more interesting or more creative ways. So, what we want to do in this next section is take this exact same information, these three factors, and use a different type of visualization. For this one, I'm going to draw a rectangle around each of them, hopefully, one that proves perfect, so that they're easy to move around. So, the way that I want to visualize these variables in a different way is through a scatter plot. I'm going to draw a right angle. Basically, an x and y-axis. Create arrows to show that these can continue on and then think about our labels. So, usually, the x-axis is the dependent, no, independent variable and the y-axis is the dependent. So, in this case, you can choose whether you write time or money on either axis because time isn't actually a beginning, middle, and end here, it's just how much time will it take. So, actually, because of that, I'm going to flip it against what now people are used to, and write time on the y-axis, and make sure that people understand it's the amount of time that it takes. Then, on the x-axis, I will label this money cost. So, let's take each one of these options and map them out. Doesn't have to be perfect. The first, we can just them as we go. The bus is a little bit more time, a little bit more money. Metro is a little bit more time and a little bit more money. Uber is more money, less time. How do we do that? Let's put it here. Driving is the most money, further this to the right and the least time. So, now that we've got these crowded over here, I'm going to rearrange them, so it's more relative. So, bike, bus, metro, Uber, drive. Let me take a look at this and make sure it's right. Now that I think about it, I think that money as x-axis is confusing. So, maybe I'll just change it up, and see what it looks like if we do time here and money over here. Again, you can play around with this, move things around, see what looks good, what makes a lot of sense. If it's not right, try it again like I did, switch the axes. Just play around with it until you find something that you think visually portrays what you're trying to say. If not, maybe this isn't the right visual. So, this isn't quite right I don't think yet. So, I want to just quickly reference some of the drawings I've created to make sure, okay, so driving is definitely most expensive and the bus is the longest time. Did I capture that? So, biking is definitely the cheapest and quicker, so I'm just going to move it a little bit more to the left, driving, and Ubering. Wait, no. I said that biking was not the quickest. Driving was the quickest. Uber somewhere in here. So now, I think this is pretty close, but a scatter plot is a really good way to tell a better story and I can show you how that works by adding another contextual layer of information. So, if you divided this into four quadrants. In the top right, you'd have things that costs you lots of time and lots of money. In the bottom left quadrant, you have things that are less time and less money. So, when you label these spaces, you can recognize that there are different areas of the chart that you might want to focus on given a specific constraint like I am short on time and short on money, so I really need to take my bike today. Or I would care less about money, I need to get there as fast as possible, so driving is the right way to go. There's a lot more we can do with the scatter plot. So, we're going to take this chart, and move into the next activity, and layer on, even more information. Now, these are all different ways of portraying the same information, and they're good, and they help increase your understanding, and get a baseline visual analysis, but they're not quite as impactful or influential as they could be because we've got in our mind map all these other types of information that we could communicate. So, predictability weather and then within each of the options like biking, I have two choices there. So, let's think about in the next activity a way to make this tell a better story. 10. Charts That Tell a Story: Okay. So, now we're going to move into thinking about a story about the commute experience. We can just get started by continuing on the scatter plot that we created in the last exercise, but erase all the contexts about cost and time because those aren't part of our story. We still got all of our modes of transportation as one of the layers of information, so we'll leave those and will relocate them once we've created our framework. So, we'll put weather on the X axis. Bad weather will be at the left, a really cloudy, rainy, windy day, it's the worst commute weather I can think of. Then, sunny and 70 degrees on the right side of the page. We'll put experience on the Y-axis, and the top will be optimal, happy, you're actually really excited to be commuting, and on the bottom is a not good experience, you're angry or sad. So, what we need to do now is relocate each of our modes of transportation. I'm thinking about which one, we'll start with weather because that's the X-axis, the independent variable. I'll choose to bike to work when the weather is good. So I'll move it over here, that's the optimal biking condition. This experience, which is the dependent variable, is really good it makes me super happy when I'm riding my bike to work and the weather is great. So I will put that in the top right. Let's move to the bus. The bus is never a great experience, but it's good for all types of weather conditions. So, I'll put it in the middle here. So, if the weather is average, I'll take the bus. The metro is pretty good for when it's raining and the experience is never great, but I'll take it because it keeps me dry and I don't have to worry about things like traffic. Then Uber, the experience is pretty good, but first we'll think about whether Uber is good for all types of weather. I'll probably not take it unless it's on the worse side of things, so the experience is much better. Then driving, the experience is pretty good because I'm in control, and I get to go where I want to go, when I want to go, and the weather is usually around the same, I'd like to drive if its average weather. So, we've chosen two different variables and we've got a new story that we're telling, and we'll just label this title, commute experience plus weather. So, the point of this lesson is to actually add variables and we've just switched two of them, we just changed experience and weather from time and money, and we've still got the third being the mode of transportation. So, the next thing we want to do is add another variable and we can bring back in cost first. The really cool thing about these scatter plots is, there's a lot of opportunity to add additional information. So, we've got the X-axis as one where we've had experienced now, the Y-axis is another where we have weather. So, the position X and Y are two factors. We can also use color, size, and shape as new layers of information. Let's take size and use size to communicate how much this commute is going to cost. So, next thing we need to do is duplicate the sheet one more time. So, now let's plot our new modes of transportation or the same mode of transportation, but in a new way. They will probably be the same location because we're still telling the story about the experience and we're just layering on size as a new variable. So, looking back over here we've got the metro on the bottom left. It's a good commute mode for bad weather, not a great experience. So, we'll make that in the same location, but consider where it falls in terms of cost. Let's go back over here, metro is around the middle range of costs. So we'll just take this guy, duplicate it and put it right where metro lives, and I'm just going to label this quickly. Referencing back over here, let's do bike next. That's the lowest cost and it's up in the top right. So, we'll duplicate this shape, move it right here, zoom out just to make sure, I think it should be over here, quickly label it and continue to do this for the rest of our options. So driving, most expensive. We'll copy this shape and put it where it was. Uber, also pretty expensive. We'll do the same thing, make sure it's in the right location. The bus, so that's a pretty low-cost. We'll take the bike, duplicate it, move it over and then just to add the context makes sure that everything is labeled. Bus. Drive. Uber. Okay. So now, that we have these four layers of information, we've got a different story going and to me it's communicating more about the agony that involved with a commute. We've got really bad weather, a not a great experience and we're spending a lot of money to get to work. So, I'm going to label this chart commute agony. Even changing the title helps it tell a better story. What we've drawn is a much more friendly and accessible way to look at this information and digest it without having a table or a two column chart of information that's XYZ and not very visual or exciting. 11. Visual Possibilities: In this section, we want you to focus on taking everything you've done so far, putting it to the side, and thinking about this from a completely new angle. So, we'll go back to your mind maps and look at all the different factors and characteristics and think about maybe one specific choice or a variable that's interesting and look at that in detail, or take three things that you don't really think could go together but challenge yourself to find a way to make it happen. I'm going to walk you through a couple examples that I created to show you what I'm talking about, but I don't really want you to follow my examples exactly. I want you to come up with something new and different that would be fun for you to try out. So, my first alternative drawing I just kept the same x and y except I changed experience to effort and I decided I want to try drawing a line chart because those are pretty fun and interesting and it's pretty intuitive to think of a journey over time with a line graph. Time in this drawing is slightly different than the way we were thinking about it before where it was just the net amount of time. I'm actually thinking here from start to finish. If these are all just the beginning is over here and the end is over here, what does the effort involved look like from beginning to end? So, let me try and walk you through this just so you understand my process. We'll take a taxi and driving at first. So, it's really not a lot of effort for me to take a taxi, or an Uber, or drive my own car. It's pretty low compared to the others. It might be hard at first to find an Uber or to walk to my car but then it's pretty easy going from there. However, if there's a lot of traffic, this could spike up and so that's why I created this line right here to show if there's a lot of traffic the effort involved is actually pretty high. The next option is the bus. It's also really not that much effort unless I get to the bus stop and there is no bus and there's like 50 people waiting in line and I'm not sure of I'll even get on the bus when it comes. Let's take a look. The Metro, it's pretty easy at first but there's a lot of effort involved in stuffing yourself into a crowded train. It gets a little bit easier once you're just cruising on the train. But if you have a transfer it gets a little harder again trying to get from one train to the next and then it evens out and you just walk the rest of the way once you get above ground. Biking, the experience involves a lot of effort just because you're physically exerting yourself and if it's really hot out of this extra line to show that biking is a lot harder depending on the weather. Just an option to show another way to use a line chart and the dotted line as a variable there. Another way I thought about looking at the commute is from how predictable it was and I started to think about that once I looked at these different variables that could cause the effort to increase or be really low or high at a certain time. So, I took the idea there and charted a predictability chart and that is a similar setup with time as the x axis. But we've got each of our choices on the left side of the page and I created a basic box and whisker plot which has each quartile mapped out. In the middle 50 percent is these gray boxes here. Let me highlight those for you so you can see. This one. All of these are from the 25th percent to the 75 percent which means most of the time my commute takes within maybe for driving 20 to 30 minutes and then taxi a little less than that. There's more range between the time for the Metro and the bus and biking is pretty close to about the same and it's usually less time. Now, I'm not sure that's the best way to visualize predictability because I even have a hard time explaining what this is so I tried it out. It's not that great box and whisker plots are generally better for a more statistically minded audience. But I found a really good way to visualize that just by thinking of it, not from percentiles or anything but the best case scenario, the average scenario, and the worst case scenario. So, in this chart I've created the same look with the y axis being each of the modes but then I just drew out what the best case would be for each one. So the driving, the taxi, Metro, bus, and bike, then I thought about okay on an average basis, how much further out does it go? Then from there, what's the worst case scenario? The next one I decided to get rid of all of the different modes of transportation and just think about what it's like to take the Metro to work. And like I drew on my mind map I even have two choices for the Metro. I have one where I walk a little bit further and one where I go to the one that's closest to me. So, I thought this was a fun way to show how between the two, one is slightly faster and more convenient but it involves a little bit more effort and no time spent walking so you might not choose that option if the weather is bad. And then it also visualizes when you're above ground or underground. So, I took that one and I tried to also layer on like what happens when I'm underground, where do I actually spend time transferring trains, how long would that take? Then I thought about it and I thought it would be really fun to show actually from an above and below ground perspective myself and what I'm doing at that time. So, I drew a person walking then me standing on the train holding my bag and then I'm back above ground and I'm walking again. I've never actually seen this type of visualization before. I just thought it would be fun to try out and it's one of my favorite versions. So, I added on a picture of my house in the building that I end up in. So, I show the transfer the same way I drew it on the previous chart but I'm actually doing some more physical activity than just standing there holding onto the handrail. Another thing I think about when I look at this visualization, because I like it a lot and I'm trying to figure out why, is that it goes full circle back to the original drawing that we created of the commute when you have a map and it brings it to a more representational drawing. You've got the house, the beginning and the end and there's a human involved so it goes from being something like super data focused to bringing it back to the issue which is there's a person that is going from point A to Point B. When you add those representational images like the people and the way that they look and their actions, it makes it a lot more accessible. It also speaks to a different audience. It's more personal. I think I could use this to tell my grandma, "Hey, you're curious about my ride to work. Well, this is how it is I start above ground, then I get on the Metro," and she could look at this and really understand my experience from a personal level. So, this is the part of the class where we want you to get really creative, really inventive and think of things in a completely new way. One way that you can do that is by going back to your mind map and taking a look at all this information here and thinking, is there anything I missed? Can I visualize any of these but also what's more that I can think about and add on here? So, what if I have an activity like a soccer game after work and I need to carry an extra bag with me and I need to go from work to that point? How do I visualize that? Or what if I want to make sure that on the way home I'm socializing with some of my co-workers? Could you add those to the mind map and visualize those in some way? Or you can get really imaginative like I'm going to create a new mode of transportation and I'm going to use a hovercraft to get to work. What would that look like? Would you want to compare it to the other modes of transportation or would you want to visualize that in itself and how fun it is, or how hard it is, or how quickly you can get there compared to everyone else who's sitting in their car or listening to the radio? There's another way of thinking about this which would be to add the audience as an important factor. So, you're going to show your commute much differently if you're talking about it to your grandma, or your new co-worker, or perhaps even think about it in terms of just being super creative because your audience is, everyone else taking this Skillshare class and you want to show them this crazy way that you've thought about visualizing your commute and I would really hope to see some of those as well. 12. Closing: All right. We've come to the end. We've done a lot of awesome work. You guys have created hopefully, a ton of different ideas in a really short amount of time. The best part is you didn't have to go and get tons of data and do tons of research, you just really thought about one thing in a bunch of different ways and got all of those ideas out on to your paper. All right. So, I just want to touch on the fact that it is really important to think about your audience when you're creating any sort of visualization but it can limit you. So, don't let that box you in when you're still in the phase where you're thinking of new ideas and you're generating new ways of visualizing things. Start to think about that as a filter when you're moving into the more of the visual communication part of visual thinking. That's when you put on the hat that your audience is wearing and imagine what it's like from their point of view. So, if you haven't started drawing yet, now is the time. I want you to start by creating a mind map and if you don't want to draw your commute, think of any other journey that you take on a regular basis and you have a lot of information in your head that you can use. Just create a page, write all of the words that you can think of down, put them into groups and categories, and try and draw lines that represent the relationships and use that as your starting point. Then you can just take one or two variables and visualize them in a very simple way, and then add layers from there. So, the idea here isn't to have at the end of this a very beautiful drawing of your commute, that's not the point. The point is to just build your visual thinking skills and improve your toolset as whatever your job title is, to be more visual and better communicate and have more and better ideas through drawing. Please, be sure to share your progress, post your favorite drawings, post drawings that are maybe getting there but you need a little help from the community to bring it over the finish line, and ask questions, get people's feedback, and share your own feedback on other people's designs. I really can't wait to see what you guys come up with. 13. Bonus: Further Resources: So, if you are really interested in this and you want to learn more and you want to get better at it. I have a few suggestions for books and authors to look into. The first one who I talked about a lot is Dan Roam. He has three books. This is the second of his three and it provides some really great frameworks for how to draw different things very functionally, very basic, but also what exactly is a good representation of what type of informations. This is an awesome one, it's called Blah Blah Blah. This second book is really fun, this woman, Jessica Hagy, H-A-G-Y. I don't know if I said it right. She has a blog called Indexed and then she created this book called How to Be Interesting. It has tons of hand-drawn functional data visualization drawings, that on her blog are all created on index cards and the book, they're just on each page with a cute little story and it's very hilarious. So, this one is a fun one just to give you some humor. Then, Visualize This is a really great book if you just want to learn more about the types of information and how to visualize it Nathan Yau has a great blog called FlowingData that I love to read and reference. But, it's kind of contributes to my visual library when I think about what types of more technical way they can visualize data. So, I'm providing a list of all of these resources and favorite websites and I hope that you can explore those on your own based on what you think would be really beneficial.