5 June 2010

The UX of data visualisation

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Crimespotting heat map
UX design consultant Hunter Whitney has written an excellent article in UX Magazine on the role of user experience design in data visualisaton.

“Much of the vast sea of data flowing around the world every day is left unexplored because the existing tools and charts can’t help us effectively navigate it. Data visualization, interactive infographics, and related visual representation techniques can play a key part in helping people find their way through the wide expanses of data now opening up. There’s a long history of depicting complex information in graphical forms, but the gusher of data now flowing from corporations, governments and scientific research requires more powerful and sophisticated visualization tools to manage it.

Just as a compass needle can give us direction in physical space, a chart line can direct our way through data. As effective as these simple lines may be, they can only take us so far. For many purposes, advanced data visualization methods may never replace Excel, but in our data-saturated world, they might well be the best tools for the job. UX designers can play a key role in creating these new tools and charts. In these treasure maps of data, perhaps UX marks the spot.”

Whitney’s article is the start of a series, that will look at how data visualisation can help many of us see more clearly and navigate whatever lies ahead.

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