Creating effective visualizations

Rebecca Barter

rebeccabarter@berkeley.edu

 

 

 

April 2018

We visualize to simplify

We visualize to explain

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/09/04/world/europe/europe-refugee-distribution.html

Visualization is a creative art

http://www.poppyfield.org/

Lower the barrier

Use packages that create common visualization types (e.g. ggplot2)

Data source: gapminder data

General principles

How to be the best data visualizer you can be (using ggplot2)!

Think before you plot

20%

of children had a 

traditional stay-at-home mom

in 2012, compared to 41% in 1970

Example source: Storytelling with data, Cole Knafflic

Every plot should have a message

Data source: gapminder data

Avoid the defaults & remove clutter

Remove redundant color

Remove background grid

Increase font size

Arrange in decreasing order

Remove y-axis gap

Replace y-axis with text

Remove x-label

Highlight Polio

Add title

Choose color wisely

(examples from Ann K Emery: http://annkemery.com/chart-colors/)

The fewer colors the better: avoid redundancy &

Choose similar colors for similar things and different colors for different things

Use different shades to indicate magnitude

Lighter colors imply less importance than darker colors

Example source: http://annkemery.com/chart-colors/

Color resources

The color index book by Jim Krause

Moving away from standard plot types

A nice post by Ann K. Emery:

http://annkemery.com/clustered-bar-chart/

Slope plot

Dot plot

All figures made using ggplot2

General principles: a summary

Think before you plot
 

Every plot should have a message (use color, text & size to highlight it)
 

Avoid the defaults and remove clutter
 

Choose color wisely
 

Be brave enough to move away from the standard plotting types: be creative!

Think before you plot
 

Every plot should have a message (use color, text & size to highlight it)
 

Avoid the defaults and remove clutter
 

Choose color wisely
 

Be brave enough to move away from the standard plotting types: be creative!

Less is more: prioritize simpliticy

Can we improve the following plots?

Lines

Showing changes over time

Data source: gapminder data

Points

comparing two continuous values

Data source: gapminder data

Examples of effective plots

what makes them so effective? What could be improved?

All the presidents tweets

 @ The Economist

 

Economic Recovery after the Great Recession

by Jonathan Schwabish

Why are so many babies born around 8:00 A.M?

by Nadieh Bremer, Zan Armstrong, Scientific American

Advice for specific plot types

Chloropleth maps

https://blog.datawrapper.de/choroplethmaps/

Interactive transitions

https://beta.observablehq.com/@anbnyc/the-space-between

General tips

http://flowingdata.com/2015/08/11/real-chart-rules-to-follow/

slides:

http://slides.com/rebeccabarter/creating-effective-visualizations/fullscreen

 

code for ggplot figures:

https://github.com/rlbarter/visualization-examples