Spark ideas for information visualization

Sometimes, you might find yourself discussing large amounts of data or complex systems with your colleagues. You need a way to visualize this, to get a better handle on it, but it can be hard to know where to begin.

The Visualization Catalogue

Well, here’s something that might help to break that creative block – Jonas Löwgren’s “Visualization Catalogue”, a free collection of good (and often beautiful!) examples of information visualization and design.

Löwgren is Professor of Interaction Design, based in Malmö University, Sweden. He developed the Catalogue as part of a project he was involved in, as part of the early visual research.

He says,

The cards can be useful in a number of situations. For instance, drawing a random card can be an inspiring starting point or provocation in a visualization design process.

Another idea is to study the cards and sort them in different ways, in order to grasp some of the design space of information visualization.

Download the PDFs for the cards and the box, print them out, and try using them in your projects and discussions.


UXPeople one-day event – write-up

UX People event logoOn March 22nd, I headed down to London for a one-day event (no, nothing to do with show-jumping) called UX People, and that event had the goal of “showcasing Britain’s talent”.

The day consisted of of four talks in the morning, followed by a choice of 2 out of 4 workshops in the afternoon. It was quite a small event (maybe 200 people) held at the rather snazzy Kings Place building, home to the Guardian and the Observer, amongst others.

No “free” lunch, no goodie bag and no “super-star” speakers meant that the cost was a rather amazing £125. All-in-all, very good value.

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Sketch sheets for page layouts or interaction design

I was chatting with someone this week about paper prototyping, and sketching out ideas. We discussed how best to present alternative page layout ideas, or to show (in a very lo-fi way) what happens when a user carries out a particular interaction on a webpage.

example of a four-pane sketch sheet

Example of a four-pane (4-up) sketch sheet

I explained that I quite often sketch things on prepared sheets of A4 that include one or several blank browser windows, with an extra couple of boxes for title, date, comments and annotations.

Download sketch sheets

There is deliberately not much room for lots of detail, but it allows you to show how things might be laid out in a browser window, or how transitions might look during interaction. Lots of designers use this approach, so it’s nothing new! But I find it a really simple, quick and portable way to have a “visual discussion”.

I’ve made these available for download in PDF format, both the single browser window and four window versions. I hope they come in handy for your sketching.

Thanks to Seb Pesseat for helping me get these to print nicely on A4.