Data Visualisation by the Principles

This is an one-hour, action-packed talk on principles of data visualisation. Slides available here.

Delivering good visual design requires putting on a stack of thinking hats. Clear message and intent, concise delivery for low cognitive load, progress reveal with a strong focus, and considerations for aesthetics, conventions, and cultural norms, just to name a few of those hats. Data visualisation is about data-driven narrative design and storytelling.

However, there are many pitfalls and mistakes that are often obscure, unnoticed, or worse, has misled your audience to a wrong direction. This talk aims to lay the first principles of data visualisation, good foundations that is widely applicable, and point out the pitfalls and how to avoid them. 

Programming is creative. Creativity is a skill. And skills can be learned.

Visible Science

In November 2017, I was pleased to speak at the Monash SensiLab Forum about my data visualisation work. It was livestreamed at a new venue, and we had double the online viewers than the physical attendance.

This presentation referenced my UNSW talk, Design as Invitation to Interaction. If you are new to interaction design, and work in or related to education, I urge you to check it out first for background knowledge.

For Visible Science, I walked through my design process, from sketch and conceptualisation to design and implementation. There is a strong emphasis that programming is creative work:

Creativity is not only about visual design. It’s applied problem solving. It’s creating something interesting and novel. It’s a little bit crazy.

Being creative is a skill. And skills can be learned, improved, and practiced. You can apply any of the data visualisation guidelines to another field, and find it useful.

Some tips on asking for feedback as a designer:

  • Rotate them: Ask your direct client, your direct colleagues, your friends and family, and your users. Work on a little bit and round robin them, so by the time it’s back to your client, it’s 3 (at least more than 1) revisions since.
  • Keep up the momentum: Projects are easier when they follow some inertia. If people see progress on a regular basis, they will be more prepared for new things when you have them.
  • Be a listener: When you’re asking for feedback, you are after what people think, not to tell what people you think. Be open to both sides of critiques, and make mental notes when you are asked to clarify things - it means they are not apparent to others.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or comment below.

Interaction Design for Education Designers

Interaction Design for Education Designers

Listen to the talk or download the MP3:

You can apply design principles in your work, too.

I gave a talk at the Learning Analytics and Education Data Seminar, University of New South Wales. Half or more people in the audience were educators and instructional designers in academia. While this talk was structured for them, the principles are applicable for other fields.

In this talk, "Design as Invitation to Interaction", I presented three barriers to designed objects, and used case studies as well as examples of good and bad design to show how they can be over come. They are:

  1. Mistimed, misplaced, misused
  2. It's dangerous to go alone!
  3. Technology is creepy

I referenced several video productions and documents I was involved during the talk. You can follow along:

You can find a copy of my slides (PDF), and slides below.

Moving Towards D3 v4

D3.js is a popular data visualisation framework for Javascript and the web. In July 2016, Mike Bostock released the new version, v4. To celebrate the new release, I gave this talk at the CSIRO data science webinar. The content covers: what is D3? Why do people use data visualisation? What is it for? I show examples of recent works, and point to a couple of resources. Then, D3's enter and exit pattern is briefly outlined. I also talk about the modularisation of D3 v4, as well as a couple of libraries that go with it.