Night 5 of the Tony Gonzalez infographic. Tonight I mainly spent time making tweaks to sections of the image I had already worked on. Some of it was nitpicking pixels, but a good bit was adding new information to charts that I already thought were packed. I’m really happy with the additional information I was able to get into a few of them tonight.
I’d like to take a moment to talk about my thoughts on design iteration.
As I design a data visualization I constantly ask myself five questions:
- What story am I trying to tell right here?
- Can I add any additional insight?
- What can I remove without sacrificing the story?
- Is the image easy to understand on its own?
- How can I make this awesome?
Repeating this process tends to refine the image with each iteration. As elements are added the visualization becomes easier to understand but a bit hectic. I then try to simplify – remove elements where possible and soften those that are non-critical but also non-removable. As items are added and removed the better ideas tend to rise to the top.
Process wise, I will frequently make a copy of a saved file I like so I can play with it to test out a crazy idea. That gives me a safety net. if the wild idea doesn’t pan I can delete it and go back to the former file. It is freedom to explore where time and energy are the only consequence. Version controlled visualization creation.
Throughout the design process I try to make the story awesome. Adding work that helps the story stick. Tables show a lot of data but don’t really make much pop. So we graph the data and give it visual perspective – but bar graphs are forgettable. Can I add any artistic elements to the graph to make it stick? Can I use different color schemes that fit a particular part of the story? Can I make this chart different than the ones around it so they don’t all blend into each other? Great stories stand on their own – but awesomeness shouldn’t be underrated. There is a reason some of the most loved films combined strong stories with effects that pushed boundaries.
I set up a Google alert for ‘Tony Gonzalez Retire’ (I’m totally going to see this post in it tomorrow) – so I can make sure I properly time the release of the infographic. Based on this article it seems like the popular prediction is shifting a bit towards Tony staying for another year. It looks like the decision will come down to the wire, so I think my final will be spent creating A/B versions – one for if he retires, one for if he stays.