Designing Data Visualizations
Intentional Communication from Data to Display
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: September 2011
Pages: 114

Data visualization is an efficient and effective medium for communicating large amounts of information, but the design process can often seem like an unexplainable creative endeavor. This concise book aims to demystify the design process by showing you how to use a linear decision-making process to encode your information visually.

Delve into different kinds of visualization, including infographics and visual art, and explore the influences at work in each one. Then learn how to apply these concepts to your design process.

  • Learn data visualization classifications, including explanatory, exploratory, and hybrid
  • Discover how three fundamental influences—the designer, the reader, and the data—shape what you create
  • Learn how to describe the specific goal of your visualization and identify the supporting data
  • Decide the spatial position of your visual entities with axes
  • Encode the various dimensions of your data with appropriate visual properties, such as shape and color
  • See visualization best practices and suggestions for encoding various specific data types
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oreillyDesigning Data Visualizations
 
2.2

(based on 6 reviews)

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20%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Concise (4)
  • Easy to understand (4)

Cons

  • Too basic (4)
  • Not comprehensive enough (3)

Best Uses

  • Student (3)
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    • Developer (3)

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(1 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

 
2.0

Data Visualization ...Visualized Badly

By That Ontology Guy

from Fredericton, NB

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Concise
  • Easy to understand

Cons

  • Not comprehensive enough
  • Too basic

Best Uses

  • Student

Comments about oreilly Designing Data Visualizations:

First with the positives: It is a good introductory read into the subject. An average person could likely read in under an hour and take away some basics. (I read it on the bus on the way home). I would immediately recommend reading some of the many references listed for more detailed information. I did like the distinction between data visualizations that are largely one-off builds that almost require a project in themselves to create versus basic effective visualizations. Most people only have time for the basic visualizations. Missing was a description of how some people "jazz" up graphics bar charts by making them "3-D" but effectively making it too hard to compare the data.

Now the negatives: 1. I received this book as a reviewers copy in hard copy. I wish I would have had the PDF because the 32 pages of color graphics (for only a 93 page book) meant I immediately had to find a color printer to print them off so I could really understand them. The book size dimensions also really limited their size and thus their interpretability.

With the introductory nature of the subject coverage and the color demands and size demands of the figures, I feel this book would have made a great web-site. As it stands, it is a basic primer good for a school or public library.

(1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
1.0

Very weak, one-side content

By Wes

from Madison, WI

About Me Designer, Developer, Educator, Maker, Sys Admin

Pros

    Cons

    • Not comprehensive enough
    • Too basic
    • Too many errors

    Best Uses

    • Paper Weight

    Comments about oreilly Designing Data Visualizations:

    This book used the word "design" extremely loosly without any strong content that focuses on the actual design of data visualizaitons. Yes, color, layout and type are mentioned, but without ANY strong examples or explainations that can help people who are trying to learn how to be creative. The title of this book should be "Random One-Sided Opinions on Visualizing Data for Business Analytics" because that is all that this is. There is only weak design and a few random thoughts on things the authors believe don't work. One example is calling Florence Nightingale's Rose Diagram (created in 1858) a failure and how she should have used stacked bar charts instead. Anyone interested in the history of this diagram would know two very imporant aspects of it: 1) that it convinved the UK Government to take conditions at veterant hostpitals seriously, especially in regards to hygene, and 2) That stacked bar charts and many of the Excel graph techniques we take for granted today were not at all common at that time.

    Really disappointed at this book.

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    1.0

    Too Bad...

    By Pat

    from France

    Verified Reviewer

    Comments about oreilly Designing Data Visualizations:

    I am very disappointed by this book.
    It deals with graphics and design, including colors ... but it is printed in black and white!
    Very useful to judge the "good" or "wrong" color of any logo or diagram (p. 36) ...
    In addition, the print quality is poor: some diagrams are illegible (p. 44, 46).

    (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

     
    3.0

    Nice introduction to data visualization

    By Ivo Flipse

    from Netherlands

    About Me Researcher

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Concise
    • Easy to understand

    Cons

    • Too basic

    Best Uses

    • Novice

    Comments about oreilly Designing Data Visualizations:

    As the book mentions: "It is a set of steps and rules to follow that will get you 80% of the way to turning out great work."

    The book does a decent job of giving you a clear overview of the basics of good data visualizations. It also helps bring across the message that you should think about why you're designing it and urge you to focus on that.

    If you haven't read any books about Data Visualizations then this book is a great introductory tour. If you've already delved deeper into the subject, then the book might not hold much news for you.

    (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

     
    2.0

    a helicopter view introduction

    By mapleoin

    from Czech Republic

    About Me Developer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Concise
    • Easy to understand
    • Helpful examples
    • Well-written

    Cons

    • Not comprehensive enough
    • Too basic

    Best Uses

    • Student

    Comments about oreilly Designing Data Visualizations:

    This book is a short introduction to Data Visualization. Everything you would expect (and which you probably already know) is in there: bar graphs, histograms, diagrams; use of color, shape, size, positioning, info graphics and youtube videos of Bruce Lee. I got this book because I was starting to work on a project which required generating a lot of graphs. However, I'm not sure that there was any new and helpful information to help me in my project contained in this book. In fact this was my biggest problem with this book: I wasn't sure that I was in the audience for it.

    There were two opposite take-aways. The first one was: there are some basic common-sense rules which you need to keep in mind when designing data visualizations (and which you probably already know from your Statistics 101 course). And the second one was: Data Visualization is really an art and it is a huge domain with a lot of possibilities, so if you want to design any advanced data visualization you'd better leave it to a professional.

    The book is however very well structured and the quality of the content is very high while entirely theoretical; it won't try to tell you what to draw and when; just what a data visualization is, what they usually look like, what they look like when they're bad and what they look like when they're really good. Some interesting points are raised and explained; for example the fact that color can not be ordered. I think it would be a good high-school level introduction to data visualization and it has a lot of links which might prove useful for someone who would want to go deeper in this topic. On the other hand this book doesn't do much on it's own.

    Although this book is available in all the usual ebook formats (PDF, mobi and epub), it has a lot of really big and colourful graphics which don't really fit well on an ereader. The authors themselves suggest to look at them on your computer (which means that even though you can read the book on your ereader, you should stay close to a computer in order to comprehend the visualizations.

    (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    A Concise Intro Full of Helpful Guidance

    By shawnday

    from DUblin, Ireland

    About Me Designer, Developer, Educator

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Concise
    • Easy to understand
    • Helpful examples
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Novice
      • Student

      Comments about oreilly Designing Data Visualizations:

      Insight­ful, sub­stant­ive and a must read for any­one work­ing with data visu­al­isa­tion as con­sumer or designer. Julie Steele andNoah Iliisky's new volume — Design­ing Data Visu­al­isa­tions — from O'Reilly suc­ceeds in apply­ing a long over­due and well craf­ted taxo­nomic pro­cess to the art of Data Vis.

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