Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 5

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:

  1. What story am I trying to tell right here?
  2. Can I add any additional insight?
  3. What can I remove without sacrificing the story?
  4. Is the image easy to understand on its own?
  5. 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.

I don’t have anything additional to show tonight, but I feel bad making a post without an image – so here is drawing of a Falcons jersey I made. Rise up!88-Falcons-Jersey

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 4

19 hours down – the infographic now measures 16″ wide by 85″ tall – meaning it is officially taller than Tony Gonzalez.

I wrapped the section comparing Tony’s career to 9 other of the greatest tight ends ever to play in the NFL. Here is a sneak preview, see if you can guess who each of them is just from the caricature.


At this point I feel there are two things left to do:

  1. Compare Tony’s early years to the best tight ends of 2012 – to show how long the likes of Gronkowski and Graham have to go before catching the records of #88.
  2. Dig through the rest of the stats I have on Tony’s career looking for random trivia.

We could be looking at a completed project in 2-3 more weeks which puts us right around the Free Agency start date. I’m not sure anything significant will happen on that date, but it is the time of year where teams have to start making decisions about the next season so I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard something more from the camps of Gonzalez or Dimitroff.