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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. When he is not writing or speaking at a conference, he’s most probably running … More about Vitaly

Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Quick Summary

Data presentation can be beautiful, elegant and descriptive. There is a variety of conventional ways to visualize data - tables, histograms, pie charts and bar graphs are being used every day, in every project and on every possible occasion. However, to convey a message to your readers effectively, sometimes you need more than just a simple pie chart of your results. In fact, there are much better, profound, creative and absolutely fascinating ways to visualize data. Many of them might become ubiquitous in the next few years.

Table of Contents

Data presentation can be beautiful, elegant and descriptive. There is a variety of conventional ways to visualize data - tables, histograms, pie charts and bar graphs are being used every day, in every project and on every possible occasion. However, to convey a message to your readers effectively, sometimes you need more than just a simple pie chart of your results. In fact, there are much better, profound, creative and absolutely fascinating ways to visualize data. Many of them might become ubiquitous in the next few years. [Last updated: Nov/03/2016]

So what can we expect? Which innovative ideas are already being used? And what are the most creative approaches to present data in ways we’ve never thought before?

Let’s take a look at the most interesting modern approaches to data visualization as well as related articles, resources and tools.

1. Mindmaps

Trendmap 2007

Web Trends 2007

Informationarchitects.jp presents the 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective in a mindmap. Apparently, web-sites are connected as they’ve never been before. Quite comprehnsive.

2. Displaying News

Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. The size of data blocks is defined by their popularity at the moment.

Newsmap

Digg BigSpy arranges popular stories at the top when people digg them. Bigger stories have more diggs.

Digg Big Spy

Digg Stack: Digg stories arrange themselves as stack as users digg them. The more diggs a story gets, the larger is the stack.

Stack

3. Displaying Data

Amaztype, a typographic book search, collects the information from Amazon and presents it in the form of keyword you’ve provided. To get more information about a given book, simply click on it.

Amaztype

Similar idea is being used by Flickrtime. The tool uses Flickr API to present the uploaded images in real-time. The images form the clock which shows the current time.

Flickrtime

Time Magazine uses visual hills (spikes) to emphasize the density of American population in its map.

Where we live

CrazyEgg lets you explore the behavior of your visitors with a heat map. More popular sections, which are clicked more often, are highlighted as “warm” - in red color.

CrazyEgg

Hans Rosling TED Talk is a legendary talk of the Swedish professor Hans Rosling, in which he explains a new way of presenting statistical data. His Trendalyzer software (recently acquired by Google) turns complex global trends into lively animations, making decades of data pop. Asian countries, as colorful bubbles, float across the grid – toward better national health and wealth. Animated bell curves representing national income distribution squish and flatten. In Rosling’s hands, global trends – life expectancy, child mortality, poverty rates - become clear, intuitive and even playful.

Hans Rosling

Three Views shows three views of the earth, in which each country is represented by a circle that shows the amount of money spent on the military (size of circle) and what fraction of the country’s earnings that uses (colour). Compact and beautiful presentation of data.

Three Views

Visualizing the Power Struggle in Wikipedia displays the most popular articles and the most frequent search queries in the heatmap.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia

4. Displaying connections

Burst Labs suggests similar or connected items to your search queries (favourite artists, tv shows, movies, genres etc.) in a bubble. Not really new, but still inspiring.

Burst Labs

Shape Of Song: What does music look like? The Shape of Song is an attempt to answer this seemingly paradoxical question. The custom software in this work draws musical patterns in the form of translucent arches, allowing viewers to see - literally - the shape of any composition available on the Web.

Shape Of Song

Musicovery displays music taste connections and lets you listen to the song and browse through similar songs.

Musicovery

Lanuage Poster proves that even simple lines can be descriptive enough. The History of Programming Languages as an original timeline.

History of Programming Languages

5. Displaying web-sites

Spacetime /Flash)offers Google, Yahoo, Flickr, eBay and images in 3D. The tool displays all of your search results in an easy to view elegant 3D arrangement. Company promises that the days of mining through pages and pages of tiny thumbnails in an effort to find the item you are looking for are over.

Spacetime

6. Articles & Resources

  • Visualcomplexity.com
    Screenshot
    The project presents the most beautiful methods of data visualization as well as further references and book suggestions. The gallery has over 450 entries.