Data visualisation for dummies

Being a researcher, and having to frequently consider visually appealing and eloquent manners of representing data, I am an avid visitor to the website Visualising Data, having also previously written about it in my blog post, “An interactive visualisation of missing data.” Lacking a formal background in graphic design, however, I am sometimes stumped when it comes to developing my own user-friendly graphics for work purposes, and I find myself constantly going back to the good ol’ reliable ‘graphs and charts’ option in Microsoft Office.

Luckily now, for dummies such as myself, the founder of Visualising Data, has been working on a research project called ‘Seeing Data‘, a 15 month study funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Professor Helen Kennedy from the University of Sheffield. One of the outcomes of this project is the website Seeing Data.

This website is a godsend for those of us who sometimes struggle with the technicalities involved in developing illustrative ways of depicting data. Sections such as Understanding Data Visualisations, with an easy to navigate menu formatted as a commonly asked questions, as incredibly useful and informative. They even have a quick self-test that you can attempt under the section ‘Top 5 things to look for,’ so you can self-assess your understanding of the elements of a visual representation of data.

One of the findings of this project that I found particularly interesting, is how each of us as individuals, brings our existing beliefs and opinions to bear on a visualisation, which in turn has effects on the manner in which we approach it. And interesting exercise that depicts this can be found on the ‘Rate these visualisations’ page.

Did you explore the website? Did you attempt the interactive exercises? What are your opinions of data visualisations? I’d love for you to share or signpost me to some other good interactive online examples that you may know of.

Saneeya Qureshi © 2015


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