Data Visualisation Resources to keep your eye on: BlogsBy Paul Laughlin
I spend a lot of my time delivering Data Visualisation workshops, so I thought I’d share some data visualisation resources here too.
As part of that workshop, I provide delegates with some recommended online resources for their CPD. Since Data Visualisation is also a perennially popular topic on this blog & my Twitter account, my current theme will be on that topic.
To start us off, a two-part series on resources for developing your own awareness & capability in Data Visualisation. In this post, I’ll recommend my favourite Data Viz blogs, as an easy starting point to see examples & advice. Here’s my subjective view of top 9 blogs on Data Visualisation, for Leaders to read…
If I had to choose one blog then this would be it. Every time I visit there is something new of interest to see and often learn from. Nathan Yau regularly updates & offers a wealth of free content as well as his membership model & books. With a PhD in Stats, he is part of a new breed of expert dedicated to advancing excellence in this topic. There are other more beautiful sites, but for diligence to regular quality content, this one wins for me.
I knew Andy Kirk from his tweets, workshops & books before I became aware of this blog. However, it is engaging and also packed with resources from another expert in the field. Andy is a UK-based freelance design consultant as well as visiting lecturer at UCL, so this site benefits (from my perspective) in more UK focussed content. Lots of good examples of best practice, high data density, visualisations here.
One of the best ways to learn the principles of data visualisation is to see bad examples. It may just be human nature, but it often feels easier to see what is wrong with a visualisation than to work out the best way to improve it. Step in the inimitable Kaiser Fung. Author of “Numbers Rule your World“, he provides what is practically a public service through his Junk Charts blog. regularly sharing what not to do, so we can all learn to avoid others pitfalls. Some are frankly hilarious too.
Information is Beautiful
A beautiful & interactive site. Led by data journalist David McCandless, his professional media experience for Guardian, Wired et al really shows. Some great positive examples of data visualisations here & a mantra to stop pie charts. They are rarely the right visualisation it’s true. If you want some artistic inspiration for new styles or approaches, this is a good place to start. I’m sure Edward Tufte, with his work as a sculptor, as well as visualisation guru, would approve of this site.
Continuing the theme of considering the artistic aesthetics as well as functional nature of visualisations, this blog focusses the relationship between creative design & information communication. Andrew Vande Moere (an associate professor at Belgium university) collects visualisations that represent data in original or intriguing ways. Another good source of ideas for different approaches. After all, it is rarely right to settle for your first design concept, most visualisations can be refined.
In this blog, the focus is on the data source or use. Produced by the Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI), it focusses on visualising public sector data. Given the importance for all citizens of government & public bodies making appropriate decisions, it’s good to see this site’s mission. It’s to: “Support public sector researchers improve the way that they visualise data, by providing good practice examples and case studies, practical and step-by-step guides on how to visualise data, and links to more detailed resources“. There are indeed good examples & helpful resources on here, particularly for those presenting such information.
This site is the personal project of Ben Jones, who manages Tableau’s public product. Given my reservations about the overuse of Tableau in some businesses, I came to this site with some skepticism. However, Ben is a generous host and does he explore data & visualisations in a relevant and engaging way. It’s a lighter & simpler site than some of the others, but does still also offer links to books. Where this will most help though, is those already using the Tableau product. If that’s you, then you want to bookmark this site & listen to Ben, to get the best out of the product & create helpful visualisations.
By way of contrast, this blog is more of a fun site. Randy Krum certainly has plenty of ‘tongue in cheek‘ content & an unashamedly American and commercial focus. The scope includes a wider range of infographics, not just more accurate data visualisations. However, it is an enjoyable browse & has plenty of wider presentational ideas to engage your audience with the information you need to communicate. Plus, sometimes you need more fun.
In some ways this blog does not belong on this list, as it’s scope is much broader than just Data Visualisation. However, it’s site & email newsletter updates always include some good quality articles & links to data visualisation resources I did not know. So, for data, data science & data visualisation practitioners, I’d say this is just about a must have (free) subscription or at least worth checking back regularly. They have their finger on the pulse of data tools & ‘best practice’ developments, so why not add to your CPD list.
Which Data Visualisation resources will help you?
Over to you then. I hope that lists of blogs helps. In part two I will come back with a list of experts in Data Visualisation, to help you explore the subject further.
But for now, I hope this longer blog post has helped. As there is so much recommended reading, I will only post this blog post this week (hope that is ok with my newsletter subscribers).
I’d love to hear, in comments below, which of the above you found most helpful. Do you have any unanswered questions about data visualisation, or content you’d like included this month?
What will help you?