Motion Graphics


Visualizing Data-Ben Fry


Ben Fry is a data expert and he has a seven step guide on how to organize data in a visual way that is both appealing and effective to the viewer. The representation of data is significant in the fact that it needs to be informative both visually and factually. Data Visualization is just like design of any other means, but more in depth. Large quantities of data need to be designed to fit functionally in a piece of artwork. Not only does the designer need to know the fundamentals of design but they need to understand how the data works, the meaning behind it as well as how to represent it in a way for the viewer to understand.

I think the way Ben Fry has broken down the steps of data visualization is very successful. In the first step he talks about how important it is to plan. This is true for all design. If you don’t have a designated direction then you will not be able to carry out the execution of the design. With data visualization I think it particularly more important to plan since you are compiling large amounts of data or facts into a visual representation that people need to follow and understand with ease. Among this planning stage a designer must edit information because too much information could influence the overall aspect of the design. Fry explains “a proper visualization is a kind of narrative, providing a clear answer to a question without extraneous details.”

In the second step “Combination of many disciplines” Fry talks about how much of a background the designer needs. Data visualization has opened up a whole new field of design/artwork for artists. They need to know more fundamentals than ever before in order to execute data visualization successfully. For example the new interactive means of data visualization require a specific knowledge of the software and programming required to make the intended art pieces.

One of the most important points Fry makes is to be cautious of over designing your visualization. He follows the idea of “less is more.” Fry encourages the designer to strip the piece down to only what is needed to convey the information in a successful way. I agree with this. Since the designer is dealing with such a large quantity of information to be laid out in an organized way is difficult enough to do successfully. If you start adding elements to your data visualization that are not necessary they could take away from the effectiveness of the piece, or even make it so it’s not even understandable at all.

The last step Fry asks designers to look at is the audience the piece is intended for. This is a very important variable to take into consideration. You need to know what demographic will be looking at the piece so you can accommodate your design to fit the audience it is intended for. Not only is the audience an important aspect to design for but the final application for your data visualization is something to consider. If you are design an application for an iPod verses a flat static graphic, you will treat the design in a different manner.


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One Response

  1. Sean Hovendick says:

    Good response and comments.

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