Data Visualization and Infographics

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The main goal of data visualization is its ability to visualize data, communicating information clearly and effectivelty. It doesn’t mean that data visualization needs to look boring to be functional or extremely sophisticated to look beautiful. To convey ideas effectively, both aesthetic form and functionality need to go hand in hand, providing insights into a rather sparse and complex data set by communicating its key-aspects in a more intuitive way. Yet designers often tend to discard the balance between design and function, creating gorgeous data visualizations which fail to serve its main purpose — communicate information.

In both print and web design infographics — visual representations of information, data or knowledge — are often used to support information, strengthen it and present it within a provoking and sensitive context, depending on designer’s creativity.

This article presents some spectacular data visualizations and infographics which manage to combine a strong visual appeal with the effective presentation of information.

Data Visualization and Infographics

Country Codes of the World
Country Codes of the World maps 245 top-level domain country codes encompassing all United Nations countries as well as numerous islands and territories. Each two-digit code is aligned over the country it represents and is color coded with the legend below for quick and easy reference.

Infographics Screenshot

Flags as Infographics
These posters have been designed for the political magazine Grande “Reportagem”. The main idea behind visualization is to turn flags of various countries into infographics by adding a legend to them. For instance: United States. Red: In favor of the war in Iraq. White: Against the war in Iraq. Blue: Don’t know where Iraq is.

Infographics Screenshot

Infographics Screenshot

Independent: Infographic
Middle-East: who backs immediate cease-fire? The infographic below was published on the front page of the “Independent” magazine during the Middle-East crisis in July 2007.

Infographics Screenshot

Virtual countries
This stand present the largest virtual countries according to the gross domestic product of the countries and world’s largest companies.

Infographics Screenshot

Infographics Screenshot

Net Neutrality
This infographic is supposed to emphasize the importance of net neutrality; it isn’t really a data visualization, but it instantly delivers the message: this is how our future might look like.

Infographics Screenshot

Corporate connections:
An extremely compact and useful source of information.

Infographics Screenshot

DIZZIA, Gregory M.
This is the documentation of every intimate relationship Gregory Dizzia has ever had. The data spans 23 years.

Infographics Screenshot

Amadana Infographics
Amadana is a Japanese company, which explains why they might not have realized that a scapegoat isn’t the same as an “acuarium.” The first row is for that toaster oven, the second and third rows are for an air purifier, while the last is for a hot plate.

Infographics Screenshot

The Japanese Wii Safety Manual
This Japanese Wii safety manual is pretty much indicative of Japanese people’s general insanity. [via Gizmodo]

Infographics Screenshot

Virtual Water
Simple, clean, elegant and effective. A double-sided poster visualizing the water footprint of products and nations.

Infographics Screenshot

Apple’s Tipping Point: Macs For The Masses
Very calm, soft and appealing colors within a clearly presented context. Design by Paul Nixon.

Infographics Screenshot

AT&T/Bell System Pre- & Post-Divestiture Chart
Peter Ross. 1985.

Infographics Screenshot

Flickr User Model
A slightly more complex data infographics, however still clear and well-presented.

Infographics Screenshot

Journey into the Universe (1985)
Information design, 1985.

Infographics Screenshot

Megan Jaegerman
A review of Megan Jaegerman’s work by Edward Tufte. Notice how clean and legible the infographics are.

Infographics Screenshot

Infographics Screenshot

Good Magazine Infographics
In each of its issues Good magazine offers good, even excellent, infographics related to aspects of our life. Some excellent examples below.

Infographics Screenshot

Infographics Screenshot

Infographics Screenshot

Infographics Screenshot

Infographics Screenshot

Who Participates and what people are doing online
A slightly different presentation of usual charts gives it some uniqueness and appeal. [via Kottke.org]

Infographics Screenshot

The Cost of Living on the Bleeding Edge of Gadgetry
Price and market penetration of consumer electronics over the past 50 years. By Arno Ghelfi. Infographics from a quite different perspective.

Infographics Screenshot

A year in Iraq
An unusual data visualization which gives information on the type and location of each attack responsible for the 2,592 recorded deaths.

Infographics Screenshot

Cubism and Abstract Art
Clean, informative and elegant. Alfred Barr’s work, found in Edward Tufte’s book.

Infographics Screenshot

MyMap
A data visualization application capable of rendering the relationships between the user and individuals in the address book by examining the TO:, FROM:, and CC: fields of every email in the 60,000-large email archive.the intensity of the relationship is determined by the color intensity of the line. “My Map” allows to explore different relational groupings and periods of time, revealing the temporal ebbs and flows in various relationships. My Map thus becomes a veritable self-portrait, a visual reflection of personal associations and relationships.

Screenshot

When Bots Attack
Using rented botnets, you can launch hundreds of thousands — even millions — of infobombs at a target, all while maintaining total deniability. In this hypothetical scenario, a single attack launched by China against the US lasts only a few hours, but a full-scale assault lasting days or weeks could bring an entire modern information economy to its knees. This infographic is supposed to illustrate it.

Infographics Screenshot

Mapping the Blogosphere
This is what the blogosphere looks like…

Infographics Screenshot

Globalization
…what about globalization?

Infographics Screenshot

George W. Bush Speech Infographics
An interactive infographic, compares the number of times certain words appear in the address. Both are a nice example of how information design can give readers more ways to evaluate and contextualize a given text or set of data. So simple, but extremely intuitive and clear.

Infographics Screenshot

yHaus: BookScape, Query Bursts. Experimental projects by Yahoo! Design Innovation Team. These query bursts depict individual IP numbers that start very popular bursts of search queries. each particle shows a query from a unique location worldwide. bookscape represents about 250,000 illustrations taken from children books, originally collected by the Open Library Project. The experimental interface uses dynamic resampling of image data to place all the images in a single zoomable space, arranged alphabetically by title.

Infographics Screenshot

Sources and Resources

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops and loves solving complex problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    GREAT POST!!!

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  2. 2

    There’s some beautiful examples here – in particular MyMap. Loving the wii safety manual btw!

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  3. 3

    Fantastic post.
    Phenomenal post.
    Splendiferous post.
    Supercalafragilisticexpialadocious post.

    Keep up the great work (as always).

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  4. 4

    Data is what makes the world turn and to make it look good… is good

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  5. 5

    Amarjeet Sinh Rai

    January 14, 2008 4:53 am

    Please fix the link for “When Bots Attack” goes to a wrong page.

    Thanks.

    -1
  6. 6

    very interesting collection, thanks!

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  7. 7

    Thanks nice collection!

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  8. 8

    Nice collection. The Japanese Wii safety manual is hilarious!

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  9. 9

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    January 14, 2008 5:05 am

    @Amarjeet Sinh Rai: thank you, fixed.

    -1
  10. 10

    I only knew a couple of these. It’s a great list: thoughtful and interesting. It really shows how images can easily deliver a powerful message. It’s not always the case, but when it’s well done and well thought, it works great.

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  11. 11

    Great post, as usual, but “communicating information clearly and effectively” is something that several of these examples don’t really do (there are great infographics in the NYT, but the one presented here is not one of them, imho).

    0
  12. 12

    Certainly inspirational but also containing quite some chartjunk and samples for rather bad information design. It would be interesting to see what at least Kaiser Fung thinks and makes of these samples.

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  13. 13

    Amazing post, love the information. and so many examples :)

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  14. 14

    I love this list! Thanks! I must get a copy of the Country Codes of the World map for my home office.

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  15. 15

    This is a pretty awesome post! Thanks!

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  16. 16

    COOOOOOOOL. :-D

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  17. 17

    The Cubism and Abstract Art diagram is not by Edward Tufte, although he’s included it as an example in his books. The diagram is by Alfred Barr, as Tufte himself says here.

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  18. 18

    Practically everything the Times produces is top notch, and GOOD magazine’s transparency section is always enjoyable. Probably why I subscribe to both.

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  19. 19

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    January 14, 2008 9:42 am

    @Andrew: thank you, fixed.

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  20. 20

    For more great infographics (and some not-so-great), check out http://www.visualcomplexity.com
    That site and Edward Tufte give me all the inspiration I need. Great post!

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  21. 21

    Awesome, it’s nice to see non web examples mixed in. Thanks

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  22. 22

    Its really Funny and Informative..

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  23. 23

    Cool and inspiring post. I love the clean approach of Virtual Water, brilliant design!

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  24. 24

    I am very impressed with this post and hope to see more like it!!

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  25. 25

    Some truly inspiring examples. Thanks for putting this together. This one is being bookmarked twice :)

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  26. 26

    Whats a creative post!!
    Thank you! really inspired me :)

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  27. 27

    Usually, Great article
    Can’t wait for the next one to come

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  28. 28

    Great Post, please help us to stop destroing Campania…
    Stop Killing Campania

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  29. 29

    Great!!

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  30. 30
  31. 31

    thank you, awesome! i mean, really.
    nothing in the near future will be able to cope with this list, but for the interested:

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  32. 32

    wow, those are beautiful thanks
    :)

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  33. 33

    WONDERFUL :O :D !

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  34. 34

    This is a really GREAT article…thanks for sharing. Regards, Keith

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  35. 35

    Very useful collection! Thank you

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  36. 36
  37. 37

    I Just Love Smashing Magazine. I can’t imagine a life without it.

    Thanks!

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  38. 38

    great, really good collection.

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  39. 39

    Tyler @ Building Camelot

    January 29, 2008 10:03 pm

    I’m a data guy at work and I LOVE these visualizations! I wish I could apply some of these to explain things at work.
    Great site! Keep up the great work!

    -1
  40. 40

    I love love love infographics done well, but my fav from this post might be the flags as infographics. I think it’s very clever and challenging to use an existing image and then relate true & relevant information in proportion to the simple flag graphics.

    And the deathrow scratches are a very simple solution that speaks nicely to the topic.

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  41. 41

    You have a great collection of art pieces.

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  42. 42

    i like it~

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  43. 43

    Hisham Abdel Maguid

    April 29, 2008 10:15 am

    Epic Systems together with Beemode (www.beemode.com) has developed a Data Visualization software “Trend Compass” almost ready to be released soon. It is an extension to Gapminder which was invented by a Swedish Professor. You can view it :

    - http://www.gapminder.org

    We are looking to promote that software in various sectors. It is a new concept in viewing statistics and trends in an animated way. It could be used in presentation, analysis,research, decision making, etc.

    Here is one link for part of what we did with some Governmental institution:
    http://www.epicsyst.com/visual.swf

    Here is another link for a project we did with Princeton University on US unemployment :

    http://www.epicsyst.com/main3.swf

    I hope you could evaluate it and give me your comments. So many ideas are there.

    In a few days you can test the software by uploading data on our website and getting the corresponding Flash charts. This is for a limited number of users.

    Eng. Hisham Abdel Maguid

    -1
  44. 44

    try my isomap ;) 3D iso resume (french texte :/)
    http://www.as-map.com

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  45. 45

    It is very encouraging to do better and better everyday. Thanks for posting all these.

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  46. 46
  47. 47

    fantastic resource, cheers

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  48. 48

    thank you for this link, it’s really really fantastic and interesting: I will use some links for my university thesis. thank you.

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  49. 49

    Once again Smashing Magazine hits the nail on the head! Some really good graphics in this list. The first 3 in particular are really good, they are “as simple as possible, and no simpler” the list helped me a lot with my design project so I just wanted to say thanks! (I also added you guys as a resource on my own infographic list link )

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  50. 50

    Jeremy Yingling

    May 21, 2009 6:56 am

    I’m actually quite impressed by this list. Most of these lists include some pretty gratuitous graphics that value some visual style over clear presentation of data.

    Here’s one I finished recently for consideration in your next list.

    http://www.infojocks.com

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  51. 51

    about #”Flags as Infographics”, googe show me that Newsdesigner.com is blocked and targeted as dangerous :O

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  52. 52

    Thanks nice collection!

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  53. 53
  54. 54

    Nice collection. There are some really impressive infographics included.
    Regards Fabian

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  55. 55
  56. 56

    Great examples!

    A shameless plug: here’s an infographic my company (Atlassian) just completed on the history of communication: http://www.atlassian.com/en/communication-through-the-ages-infographic . Let us know what you think of it!

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  57. 57

    Nice list. We just made one about burglary statistics.
    authoritysafes.com/burglary-statistics.html

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