Examples of Capturing Visual Data

Data analysts are those magical people who can read numbers in a way other people can’t. Or at least that’s how I see them as someone who used to work in a place where we heavily depended on data. As an editor, the data analyst would direct me to where I should focus more, and where the website is supposed to be headed and why.

But ask a data analyst how they do it and you probably won’t get a bunch of unrelated numbers, you would get a chart. If they’re creative enough, you can get some visual that explains what’s happening and what needs to happen without them ever saying a word.

Data visualization allows everyone to make sense of something, and to put several levels of data in a form that makes it interpretable. It’s as important as knowing the numbers, if I list every metric you need yo know and left, you would know the numbers, you’d have the data, but you wouldn’t know what to do with it. Visualizing it is more practical and more fun.

Below are some of my favorite data visualizing techniques I’ve seen so far:

1- The Life of a Typical American: By Tim Urban

If a person lives up to 90 years old, this is what their life will most likely look like in weeks, based on the average timing of major life events in the life of an ordinary American.

Seeing this info organized like that makes it more understandable, it establishes a main ground for other structures to be built.

life

2- The Middle East (good luck getting that one!)

David McCandless and UniversLab

And yet there are graphs that puts it into perspective how complicated something is, this one represents some kind of results obviously, but it is striving for a bigger point rather than inviting you to grab a pencil and follow the lines. (You can if you really want to)

mideast

3- Music Visualized

This is what music looks like. The lines moving from the center away represents the musical channel as it moves with time, different angles of the lines represent different frequencies. “The purpose was to create even more an aesthetically responding visualization with the music as an artist.” as the creator puts it.

bet

queen

This one shows us how great minds don’t actually think alike: 

greatminds

Imagine if I used this post to list all the data you learned about here in bullet point. wouldn’t be as attention-grabbing, would it?

“It’s air; it’s just there”

Prada, Lufthansa, the New York subway system, American Airlines, push (yes on doors), and Jeep all have something in common; they all use the Helvetica font.

The list goes on, I was amazed to find out how many words we see everyday from brands to ads, webpages to signs on the streets that use Helvetica.

The documentary Helvetica approaches what we know, or don’t know, and think of typeface and fonts. Personally, I never thought that deeply of the process of creating a font. Sure, as a writer I’m interested in how words look and what they reflect, and wonder every time I see Comic Sans why it exists as much as the next person. But to break down one single character to grid and invert how it is perceived from black bent lines to the white space around those lines was eye opening for me.

Dear old Helvetica has been developed almost 60 years ago, and it became so popular because of computers. Yes you read that right, computers made an old thing popular. So popular that we don’t even think about it anymore, it’s so basic it’s almost considered lazy to use. And that’s not an offense, in a way Helvetica has come to be so familiar that brands all over the world are using to send out a message or establish a brand, based on this familiarity that makes the font itself unnoticeable so the message would be.

But going back to the basics of type meanings and how a single letter is designed really shows that creating something, anything, that would be considered “default” in years is a higher goal to aspire to. I mean the film interviewed experts in graphic and type design and they used words like “blood” and “air” and “humane” and how its letters live “in a powerful matrix of surrounding space,” to describe a typeface!