Discussion Response 3 – Data Visualisation Journal Articles

Technology has developed significantly over the past century, and these advancements have also increased our capacity for collecting, storing and analysing data. In 1986 the average person would be exposed to 40 85-page newspapers each day, and by 2007 this number had increased to 147 newspapers each day (Krum, 2014). Communication designers have an important role to play in the translation of this vast quantity of data into clear, concise and visually appealing data visualisations and infographics.

Dur (2014) writes of the importance of ensuring that design students are taught how to collaborate with professionals from other disciplines in ways which will enable them to more actively discover, understand and interpret information. A well-designed data visualisation has the ability to reach and engage a wider audience, and can be used to persuade, motivate and activate people. The visualisation of information allows non-experts to identify patterns and connections, and it is the role of the designer to use design elements such as colour, texture, size and dimension to emphasise the key messages (Dur, 2014).

It is important that data visualisations are aesthetically pleasing, as this will affect people’s willingness to interact and engage with them (Quispel & Maes, 2014). Most data visualisations that are published in the mass media are quite simple, such as bar charts and pie charts, and these simple layouts can be understood very easily and quickly. However, if the goal is to engage and entrap the attention of a wider audience, then data visualisations should also be designed to be visually appealing, and should invite viewers to further explore and connect with the information (Dur, 2014).

References

Dur, B. (2014). Data Visualization and Infographics in Visual Communication Design Education at The Age of Information. Journal of Arts and Humanities, 3(5), 39-50. Retrieved from http://www.theartsjournal.org/index.php/site/article/view/460/267

Krum, R. (2014). Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design. Indianapolis: John Wiley and Sons.

Quispel, A., & Maes, A. (2014). Would you prefer pie or cupcakes? Preferences for data visualization designs of professionals and laypeople in graphic design. Journal Of Visual Languages & Computing, 25(2), 107-116. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045926X13000967

Assessment 2 – Quote Me – Initial Thoughts

Our next assignment is to create an A3 poster featuring a quote. This assignment has a group element to it, the group is assigned the quote and has to produce a version each.  For my version, I’m limited to one version of a typeface, and I can use an unlimited number of point sizes and colours.

The quote my group has been assigned is:

By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately and well.
– Robert Bringhurst

According to Wikipedia, Robert Bringhurst is a Canadian poet, typographer, and the author of The Elements of Typographic Style (1992).

So what are the rules of typography? Here are some, courtesy of https://creativemarket.com/blog/typography-rules:

  • Use fonts that connect with your audience
  • Adjust kerning to produce a more streamlined results
  • Limit the number of fonts used (no more than three fonts)
  • Understand alignment options
  • Use visual hierarchy to emphasise what’s important
  • Use grids to create logical and visual harmony
  • Pick a secondary font which complements the primary font
  • Ensure it’s readable
  • Choose colours wisely
  • Avoid stretching fonts
  • Adhere to grammar rules
  • Work with the right software

Now… which ones do I break?!

Assessment 1 – Word and Meaning – Final Outcome

I’m pretty happy with my final outcome for this assessment! I ended up making the word out of white quinoa, which was fairly easy to work with after dampening it a little (dry quinoa has a mind of its own!). I used black poppy seeds to outline each letter, as black chia seeds ended up being more grey than black and just didn’t look right. I then made the starburst shape out of almonds and worked my way back in adding goji berries, kiwi fruit, blueberries, and sunflower seeds.

079A4592

079A4603

079A4668

079A4672

079A4676

079A4677

079A4673

Task 2: Design Language


Image source: http://www.adaa.abudhabi.ae/En/FooterLogos/Visit%20Abu%20Dhabi.jpg

colorado_state_variations

Image source: http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/colorado_state_variations.png

The purpose of a brand is to differentiate one product from its competitors, to provoke beliefs and emotions, and prompt behaviours in consumers (Morgan et al., 2011). A successful brand can instil a sense of value and performance to a product, and can be used to generate those social and emotional values for new products.

One of the most important components of a brand is its logo, as this provides a visual identifier for the product or company. A logo is a mark which conveys meaning about the product it represents. It must be simple enough that it can be easily reproduced, however the process of inventing the logo is often a lengthy one, as the logo gives form to “abstract values, concepts and attitudes in a single mark” (Glickfield, 2010, p. 27).

One city which has recently risen in prominence as a tourist destination and place of business is Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Prior to the launch of the Abu Dhabi brand in 2007, the city suffered from low global awareness in the majority of markets that the city was expanding into (Morgan et al., 2011). Every element of Abu Dhabi’s brand logo was carefully considered, the font and the logo itself communicate the city’s Arab background, the colours reflect the city’s heritage and landscape, and the shape of the logo is inspired by the iconic red sail of Abu Dhabi (Our Abu Dhabi, n. d.).

While the branding efforts of Abu Dhabi in 2007 were to create a new brand to increase global awareness, other places have chosen to rebrand themselves. In 2013 the state of Colorado launched an online campaign to rebrand the state called Making Colorado, where all residents of Colorado could submit their thoughts, opinions and creative ideas for review (Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, 2016).

The driving force behind the Making Colorado campaign was due to the fact that the existing logo, a red C surrounding a golden circle, was part of the state’s official flag and as a result it was part of the public domain and could be used for any purpose and in any way (Medina, 2013). The creation of a new logo for the state would allow the state to retain control over its use. The outcome of the Making Colorado campaign is a triangular green and white design which was inspired by the state’s alpine-themed license plates. The design includes a silhouette of a snowy mountain peak, and the state’s abbreviation “CO”. The new logo invokes images of snow-capped mountains and pine trees, and this message of the state’s natural beauty is also reinforced with the state’s new logo “It’s our nature”.

Both Abu Dhabi’s and Colorado’s new logos are very effective at communicating a lot of information in a single mark. Logo design is not just a matter of creating something which represents a product, but it also needs “to communicate an ethos rather than represent something figurative or literal” (Glickfield, 2010, p. 27). This can only be done with consultation with stakeholders, research into the history, demographics, and geographical attributes of the area, and a clear understanding of the message the tourism body or government wishes to portray.

References

Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. (2016). What Makes Colorado Colorado? State Launches Inclusive Branding Initiative. Retrieved from https://choosecolorado.com/what-makes-colorado-colorado-state-launches-inclusive-branding-initiative/

Glickfeld, E. (2010). On logophobia. Meanjin, 69(3), 26-32.

Medina, S. (2013). Rocky Start? Colorado Adopts A New State Logo, With A Few Bumps. Retrieved from https://www.fastcodesign.com/3017119/rocky-start-colorado-adopts-a-new-state-logo-with-a-few-bumps

Morgan, N., Pritchard, A., & Pride, R. (2011). Destination brands. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au.

Our Abu Dhabi. (n.d.). Our Brand. Retrieved from http://ourabudhabi.ae/en/our-brand.html.

CDI – Weeks 3 and 4 Thoughts

Weeks 3 and 4 of the trimester just flew by! I guess it didn’t help that I have spent 7 out of the 14 nights at the snow. I have fallen a little bit behind over the past fortnight, and haven’t had enough time to really explore the material and do the activities, other than the assessable ones. Hopefully I will have the time and the motivation to play catch up later on.

In Week 3 we studied design activism, which was interesting but nowhere near as interesting as I found the data visualisation topic. Design definitely has a role to play in activism as both the vehicle for communicating important messages, providing symbols for people to get behind and unite under, and also by making statements through art, posters, magazines, etc.

In Week 4 we studied design language, which was actually more about branding and logo design. I feel that there is a LOT more in this topic than what was covered in the learning materials and the readings. Part of the material was to watch the film Helvetica, which talks about the history of the font and how it’s used absolutely everywhere. It was quite interesting, and I decided that I do like Helvetica. Sometimes you want a font just to be there and not say anything, you know what I mean? I prefer clean fonts, and Helvetica is attractive in its simplicity and neutrality (is that a word? If not, I just made it one!).

Assessment 1 – Word and Meaning – Inspirational Images

I’ve been browsing Google Images for inspirational images, and after needing to take a break to go and buy an apple, I have collated a selection of images that I love the look of.

The first ones are generic food art:

FoodArt.jpg
Image sources
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/5b/be/5f/5bbe5f861b81f5fc732a3c02dc674179–lake-como-art-installations.jpg
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/2d/a7/76/2da7767f5e38256b85597a2a4d6616c4–watermelon-crafts-watermelon-fruit-bowls.jpg
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ce/31/8f/ce318faf14883e3661fdde096d925455.jpg
https://theredbikiniproject.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/superfoods1.jpg

And the second lot is words spelled out with food:

FoodWords

Image sources
http://editorial.designtaxi.com/editorial-images/news-foodart031115/2.jpg
https://maeddesigns.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/62ef5-s1600.jpg/db8a63788748b5480e35667dd417937a.jpg
https://munchcrunchorganics.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/aboutpaleo.jpg
https://rawrawlife.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/hope-in-veggies-and-fruit.jpg

And also this photo, which shows superfoods and their various colourings:


Image source: https://cocorubyskin.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/superfoods-best-nutrients-lose-weight.jpg

Discussion Response 2 – Design Activism

Image source: http://inkahoots.com.au/project_files/50/38/54/22305438501_lg.jpg

The term “activism” is commonly used when referring to activities that demand social or political change, such as protests, marches, and petitions. In the world of design, activism takes on many different forms, including posters, videos, images, artworks, and even architecture. Design efforts can be considered to be activism if they identify an issue and encourage change in order to rectify the found problem, working on behalf of a neglected, excluded or disadvantaged group, and does so in a way which disrupts the norm through unorthodox methods (Thorpe, 2011, p. 6).

An example of design activism is Inkahoots Social Buttons installation in Caggara House in Mount Gravatt (Inkahoots, n.d.). Caggara House was developed by Brisbane Housing Company to provide affordable public housing to tenants over 55 years of age (The Senior, 2016). The Social Buttons installation consists of three large buttons which can be used to vote on social activities. The user selects their preferred activity from a given list by pressing the first button, then selects their preferences for where and when by pressing the second and third buttons. The votes are tallied each month and the most popular choice is sent to the residents by text message, and the housing organisation takes care of any transport requirements (Zuber, n.d.).

The Social Buttons meets the criteria for design activism as defined by Thorpe as it identifies the issue that older tenants may have difficulty making social connections, and it serves as a vehicle of change as it allows and encourages the tenants to attend social activities. The over-55 demographic is one which is often neglected by technological advances, and the installation provides a unique bridge between the tenants and the data collection and communication technology that lies behind the buttons.

Social Buttons from Inkahoots on Vimeo.

References

Inkahoots. (n.d.). Social Buttons / Inkahoots. Retrieved from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/social-buttons/~details.

The Senior. (2016). Clever addition pushes all the right buttons. Retrieved from http://www.thesenior.com.au/lifestyle/clever-addition-pushes-all-the-right-buttons/.

Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining Design as Activism. Retrieved from http://designactivism.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Thorpe-definingdesignactivism.pdf.

Zuber, C. (n.d.). Inkahoots + interactivity: press the buttons. Retrieved from http://designonline.org.au/inkahoots-interactivity-press-the-buttons/.

Assessment 1 – Word and Meaning – More Thoughts

I have decided to go with my idea of creating the word SUPER out of superfoods, such as blueberries, nuts, seeds, etc, and to make it look like a word in a comic book drawing.


Image source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/1a/20/7f/1a207f33aa5ffbbdfed45e6a6b830ceb–superhero-ideas-superhero-classroom.jpg

Food provides so many different colours and textures, even within the superfood category there’s so much to choose from!

At this stage my main concerns are:

  • How do I make the food match the style of typeface that I want?
  • What foods will be easiest to work with? How do I prepare them so that they are still recognisable, yet are small enough to place into the final artwork?
  • How to keep the food in place while I’m laying everything out?
  • What size to make the final piece so that I can get the whole thing into one photo while keeping the word legible?

A quick play with fonts:

Super.jpg

And here is a quick draft I put together using Illustrator, which uses a font called “Bangers” which I downloaded from a free font website.

SuperFood01.jpg

Task 1: Data Visualisation

Data visualisation is the practice of transforming data into graphs, charts, maps, networks, videos, and other graphical forms. The application of data visualisation techniques can cause previously hidden patterns and trends to be identified within the data, and the resulting graphic should present the data in a more understandable and digestible format.

There are many different data visualisation techniques, and it’s important to choose a method which fits the data well and also adds meaning and truth to the data (Reas & McWilliams, 2010). The technique selected will depend on what the data is, how it’s organised, and what message the designer wishes to convey.

Data visualisation techniques can be roughly categorised based on the type of data and the interaction and distortion techniques used (Keim, 2002). Commonly used data types include one-dimensional data (such as time), two-dimensional data (such as maps), multi-dimensional data (such as data in related tables), text, hyperlinks, hierarchies and graphs. Some examples of interaction and distortion techniques include filtering, linking, projecting and zooming.

Perhaps one of the most useful features of data visualisation is its ability to allow a large amount of data to be analysed, explored, and manipulated without becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. Data is commonly explored by viewing it in a summarised form, then zooming into the areas of most interest, and then filtering out what’s irrelevant (Keim, 2002).

Data visualisation is a powerful tool when used well, however if the choice of technique does not match the data then it may fail to convey the intended message. Data which has a geographic nature is well represented by static and interactive maps, and data which has been recorded over time is effectively displayed using a time series visualisation, such as Aaron Koblin’s flight pattern animations (Koblin, n.d.). The correct application of data visualisation should result in a graphic which is easy to interpret, manipulate and analyse.

An excellent example of an interactive two-dimensional data visualisation is Nathan Yau’s Compare Worst and Best Commutes in America, which presents its data through an interactive map (Yau, 2015). Clicking on any county on the map will reveal how the average commute times across American counties compare to the chosen county. The commute time variable is split into five colour coded categories ranging from “much shorter” to “much longer”.

Nathan Yau’s interactive commute time map is a perfect example of why data visualisation provides a stronger representation of data than using tables or text. To represent the same amount of data in a table would require one column and one row per county, and it would be very difficult to compare the counties against each other without any interactive elements. Similarly, if the data was presented in text form, it would lose a lot of its meaning as it would be very difficult and tedious to read. The choice to use an interactive map to represent this set of data allows the end results to be easily and quickly understood, which makes the visualisation extremely effective.

References

Keim, D. (2002). Information visualization and visual data mining. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 7(1), 100-107.

Koblin, A. (n.d.). Aaron Koblin – Flight Paths. Retrieved July 22, 2017, from http://www.aaronkoblin.com/work/flightpatterns/index.html

Reas, C., & McWilliams, C. (2010). Form + code in design, art, and architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Yau, N. (2015). Compare worst and best commutes in America. Retrieved from http://flowingdata.com/2015/02/05/where-the-commute-is-worse-and-better-than-yours/

Data Visualisation Task

This week’s task is to track our movements in the house or the workplace over the course of the week, and then share the data visually with the group. I chose the house option, as I don’t really walk around my office very much at all. I must admit that I didn’t include every single movement, because quite often I’d go to a room for 10 seconds just to grab something… and also I didn’t want to spend the week attached to my spreadsheet so I only made my entries a few times a day and just worked off my memory of where I’d been.

I decided to use a website to produce my data visualisation, as I wasn’t happy with what MS Excel had to offer. Apparently it can do more than what I’ve used before… but I just couldn’t get it to work. I found a website – Raw Graphs – where you can paste in your data and then select your graph type, and then you can just embed the result. Easy!

CDI_Week02_Alluvial.png

The above graphic shows my movements within the house from Monday to Friday, with the left side being the room I was coming from, and the right side showing the room I was going to. The thickness of the line shows the number of times I made that particular transition. This is an “alluvial” diagram, which presents flows and allows correlations between categorical dimensions to be shown, visually linking to the number of elements sharing the same categories (definition from Raw Graphs).

CDI_Week02_CirclePacking.png

This one is a “Circle Packing” diagram, which shows nested circles and the size of the circles allows for easy visual comparisons to be made. The five outer circles represent a day each (the day label can be seen in the centre of the circle, some are quite hard to see), and the inner coloured circles represent the number of minutes within each room. I think this diagram would be more effective without the labels, but the website doesn’t output a legend and without that, it’s not clear what you’re looking at.

From this graph you can see that the day I spend the most time at home is Monday, because that’s my study day. Wednesday and Thursday are the smallest because both nights I went out and spent a few hours at the dog club. Friday has lots of small circles because I was doing chores and moving from room to room a lot.