5 visualisations showing the extent of design in journalism

Visualising data or stories has more to do with creating visuals that resonate with the target audience rather than just bars and graphs.

People will quickly associate familiar elements with their own experiences. This way they are more likely to pay attention to your visuals and subsequent story. In addition, designers and journalists should not be afraid to represent their content in two, three or even four dimensions. Each one adds another layer of work to be done but the results are well worth.

With that in mind, here are 5 examples of visualisations done right.

The Ukrainian revolution through Instagram

Photo: The Everyday Project
Photo: The Everyday Project

One simple way to visualise is to collect visuals already in existence. User Generated Content is the obvious candidate here.

In this example, Instagram photos from during the protests in Kiev were scraped to illustrate what people were doing in that period. More than 13.000 images from 6.165 accounts were arranged into a collage ordered by date and time.

Together with a vertical timeline, this simple but effective technique revealed that in between the violent clashes, things were just as usual.

Mapping the American Whaling industry

This map, made by Princeton graduate Benjamin M. Schmidtshows what can be done when time is added as a factor in visualisation. Looking at how something changes over the years gives quite a different perspective. That and it’s also exciting to look at.

In the author’s own words:

“Data visualizations are like narratives: they suggest interpretations, but don’t require them. A good data visualization, in fact, lets you see things the interpreter might have missed.”

Measuring a black hole

Some things are pretty big. And “pretty big” doesn’t translate well into numbers. People need to see.

Such is the case with black holes, collapsed stars that have given birth to bodies which are both big and heavy. And this short animation shows just how big and heavy.

Note that the music plays an important role in setting the mood.

Sexperience 1000

Sexperience 1000 interface

…or “what the great British public get up to between the sheets”.

This complex project allows you to see the ins and outs of sex life. Interactivity is key here. You can answer in sections ranging from number of partners to cheating. You can see how others answered and which group you’re in.

Moreover, you can follow one or more individuals to see the trends they follow and which categories they fit into.


Image: NoiseTube
Image: NoiseTube

Finally, here’s an example of how to take it offline for people to use.

This mobile app records the sound of your surrounding and sends it, along with your location, to a server which then compiles a map. This way several people can build maps of the loudest parts of their city. It’s much more detailed than government data. Here’s what people have mapped so far.

It’s a clear example that everything can be visualised, including sound.

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