Blog Learning more about data visualisation

One of our designers, Brad, participated in a data visualisation day course.

In today’s industry, the use of infographic design is vital to how data can be shown to its audience. Designing infographics is extremely important to show how data is portrayed, whether it’s the choosing the right type of graph, the correct use of colours, or even creating icons and illustrations to show the subject matter.

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Online there are so many different news stories and featured articles that are put in front of us and are now data-driven, but how do we tell our data-led stories in a way that is easier for audiences to understand and engage with?

At Percipio, it is extremely important for our design team to understand data, and how we can portray it correctly to the relevant audiences. Many of our clients fall under serious subject matter, so it is vitally important for us to show their findings and research in a creative but responsible way.

Last month I attended an online masterclass, which was hosted by Adam Frost and Tobias Sturt, two of the industries leading professionals in data visualisation. Adam is the former head of data visualisation at the Guardian’s digital agency and his work has appeared on the Guardian, the New Statesman, Buzzfeed and elsewhere. Tobias was head of creative at the Guardian’s digital agency and has been working in digital storytelling for almost two decades using all kinds of media – from web to TV, games and infographics.

The masterclass started with a presentation on analysing graphs and charts, how their structures worked and how it allows the audience to read the data. From this presentation, it lead the group into the first exercise, which was to open an excel file that had pages of data on Baby Names in 2020”, and find one interesting story and describe it in a single compelling sentence.

As explained in the presentation before hand, they encouraged us all to follow a simple structure in writing a title, which was to follow the five W’s, which were: Who, What, Where, When and Why. My title was; In England and Wales during the 2019/2020 year, the naming of girls saw an obvious battle between the names Olivia and Amelia. 

From these titles it lead us into a presentation on the layout and designing of infographics themselves. The techniques that we were taught varied from colour choices, to what type of graph or chart is needed, to the overall layout of the infographics themselves. This then lead us into the second group exercise of the day, which was to draw and layout an infographic based on the title we had chosen earlier, and the data that we had available.

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Adam and Tobias always draw their infographics out first before designing them in any professional design programme, which I will now take into my future infographic designs, as it really is a great way to help picture the layout and communicate the story of the data correctly. It also allows you to vary your design work and help showcase your thoughts to a potential client.

After this it was the final presentation on making data interactive or animated, which I personally love to work on, as it brings the story to life. I learned a lot of different techniques in this part of the course and will be looking to bring these into customer work in the future.

Our final exercise came after and that was to design an interactive page, or a storyboard of an animation, on a separate set of data. This data was based on the top 100 Brands during the years 2010 and 2020. For my concept, I created a storyboard that was for an animation on social media, that focused on how Disney was was the top brand in the entertainment section. Again we were encouraged to draw, and I loved this as again it allowed me to think differently, while also being a great way to help picture the layout and communicate the story of the data correctly.

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I have learned a lot from this masterclass and will be taking these pieces of advice into future client work. I have learned a lot about the storytelling element of data visualisation and will be implementing this into my design work going forward. Drawing my layouts before working in design programmes is also something something I will take forward!

Percipio are always encouraging the team to push ourselves in CPD, and I gratefully appreciate the opportunities to attend these types of seminars or classes. I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to understand data storytelling, creating infographics, or just wanting to know more about reading data, to take part in the masterclasses hosted by the Guardian, especially the ones which are with Adam Frost and Tobias Sturt.