Visualization of Data as Visual Interpretation of Data. Hands-on Design Tutorial

Marek Kultys (Independent Design Professional)

To provide accurate, comprehensive picture of data is a cardinal virtue of good practice in visual information design. "Graphical excellence begins with telling the truth about the data" (Tufte). Yet, still too often it poses difficulties to visualization makers. Usually, it is merely due to one's unawareness or lack of understanding of basic design rules that help maintain high graphical integrity. Therefore, familiarizing oneself to the practical rules of truthful, unambiguous data presentation remains in best interest of both the authors, as well as the viewers of data visualizations.

In this interdisciplinary hands-on tutorial the students will learn the basics of good visual design practice necessary to create clear, coherent, unequivocal and impactful visualizations. Through a series of lectures and case study demonstrations the students will learn the rules of graphical integrity, become familiar with most common visualization traps and understand the gravity of data visualization accuracy. Following this primer, the students will engage in a hands-on sketching activity, in which they will explore and exercise various ways of controlling and distorting the meaning of data by manipulating its visual presentation. Equipped with this valuable first-hand knowledge of the mechanisms of visual design misrepresentation, the students will become able to make informed and better design decisions in their own visualization work. In the concluding group critique the students will also learn to critically judge the accuracy and performance of the visualizations made by themselves, as well as by their peers.

This tutorial continues and expands on the VIS tutorial "Good Practice of Visual Communication Design…" which was very positively received at the 2012 conference in Seattle, WA. Digital handouts and presentation synopsis will be provided to all tutorial participants.