I like to insist that Washington, D.C. was built on a swamp, despite some evidence to the contrary. How else can one justify the carnivorous mosquitos, humidity, heat and all-around swampiness that pervades the nation’s capital? Maybe I’m being ornery, but being a bike commuter in DC does that to you. So last week, when the temperature dropped from 105 to the upper 80s… well, let’s just say that this was appropriate fodder for a light-hearted infographic designed by me for everyone who shares my hate/love relationship with summer.
On a weekly basis (if I’m lucky) one of the things that I find myself most in need of is a common area to find real-life examples of the best practices that we all try to follow. But talk is cheap and a little bit of visual awesomeness goes a long way so…
Why? Well, I don’t know how many of you often find yourselves swimming upstream and in the dark when it comes to sweet-talking clients out of ideas that you know are, em, well, sometimes just a wee bit unusual, not realistic, not good practice, a few branches short of a tree etc., etc.. If you are, then you also know how, though these conversations can sometimes be rewarding, oftentimes they are not (all recipients of puzzled looks or polite silence followed by the inevitable request to “do it anyway” or “can’t you just…” raise your hands).
I’m hoping that this new platform will give us quick access to quality examples of information design–solutions that illustrate a specific direction or idea that we’re trying to pitch to our teams, stakeholders and clients. Often I find myself scrambling to create comps to better prove or show a point. Nothing wrong with that, but if there’s a place where I can follow knowledgeable designers and their work rather than wading through Google searches or sites that warehouse images, I’m all for it (though where would I be without my favorite beer graphic?).
The Visual.ly social media platform, coupled with the excellent blogs out there (ranging from good critiques on the visual.ly blog, to case studies and reality checks by chartsnthings, as well as the usual suspects like the Guardian and Flowing Data and many more) is a damn good thing, and I’m excited to see this take off.
If we use this tool wisely and well, does that mean no more animated 3D piecharts?
For the cyclists out there, I hope you’ll agree that a post-ride banana is about as life-affirming as a cold beer. For me, even in the dog days of a Washington, D.C. summer, a banana is the perfect, portable pick-me-up. So, imagine my delight when a friend sent me a six-way Venn banana diagram, in the most recent issue of the science journal Nature, showing the distribution of gene families in this most humble of fruits. I had to reach waaay back to biology class (and Wikipedia) to recall that monocots are one of two types of flowering plants (distinguished by having only one seed-leaf, for those of you dying to know). For the Venn geeks, the diagram actually uses A. W. F. Edwards’ six-set Venn diagram.
And if you like Venn diagrams more than bananas, here is one of my favorites, by Colin Harman. In math, Venn diagrams show relationships within sets. In real life, they allow cheeky designers to provide clients with a reality check.
And if you’d like to see how NOT to use a Venn diagram, FlowingData recently posted on a Mitt Romney graphic.