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Randy Krum
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Data Visualization and Infographic Design

Infographic Design

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Entries in Giveaway (14)

Friday
Jun232017

The Big Book of Dashboards!

The Big Book of Dashboards is a fantastic new book release in 2017 co-authored by Steve Wexler, Jeffrey Shaffer, and Andy Cotgreave. Published by Wiley, the book is available in print and ebook. You can check it out here on Amazon!

The book starts with good data visualization design practices and then dives into 28 case studies of real dashboard designs in practice. The case studies are design tool agnostic, covering good dashboard designs from a variety of design tools. It doesn't matter what software you use, you will find inspiration and great examples in this book!

I met the co-authors at this year's Tapestry Conference, and interviewed them about the book below.

This month (June 2017) I'm giving away one copy to a lucky winner!  Register on the Giveaways Page by June 30th to be entered.

 

 

Who is the book intended for?

Steve Wexler: Anyone tasked with building or overseeing the development of business dashboards.

 

The three of you are in distant locations from each other. What was your process to collaborate on writing the book?

Steve Wexler: It wasn’t just the three of us!  While we were the authors, the book has 17 contributors and we would have web-sharing sessions with all of them so we could understand the rationale behind the dashboards.  There were also many cases where we would ask them to either defend their decisions or make some refinements.

In any case, we web-conferenced and relied very heavily on Slack to handle asynchronous collaboration.  The slack channels are massive (you should see all the discussions on the definition of the dashboard).

Andy Cotgreave: We also used Join Me for teleconferencing and Dropbox for file sharing. Looking back, it’s incredible how technology facilitates close collaboration across the world. 

 

How do you define what is a dashboard?

Steve Wexler: A dashboard is a visual display of data used to monitor conditions and / or facilitate understanding. Yes, it’s a broad definition.

Jeff Shaffer: There were long discussions on this one. We really considered Stephen Few’s definition, but picked apart terms like “single screen” and “monitored at a glance”. For example, does printing a dashboard and taking it into a meeting disqualify it from being called a “dashboard”? We think it’s still a dashboard and while it may not be used to monitor something in that instance, it does facilitate understanding. Another example is a “dashboard” that is presented on a tablet or phone where scrolling off a single screen is necessary. Technology, and screen size, is constantly changing, so while our definition is broad, I find it more accurate.

 

Why should dashboards be elegant or visually appealing?

Steve Wexler: I guess for the same reason that your want a computer, phone, appliance, etc., to be elegant or visually appealing.  For certain, the dashboard must first be functional (i.e., inform, enlighten, and engage) but the “engage” part is more likely if the experience with the dashboard is pleasant.

Andy Cotgreave: You need people to engage with a dashboard. Don Norman defines success according to three levels of processing: Visceral, Behavioural and Reflective. Each needs to succeed. The first response is Visceral - it’s an instant emotional reaction to whether you like something. It takes little effort to ensure the colours, fonts, layout of a dashboard is appealing, but it’s vital to get that visceral response right. The “functional” part comes next, in the behavioural level.

 

Do dashboards have a size limit? How large can they go?

Steve Wexler: They should be bigger than a bread box and smaller than the Empire State Building. Goodness, it depends on so many things -- the audience, the platform (desktop vs. tablet vs. mobile) and so on.

Looking at the 28 scenarios in the book, with the exception of the Financial Times Economy at a Glance dashboard, none of the desktop-based dashboard have any scrolling (many of the mobile-dashboard do provide for scrolling).  

As for the number of distinct charts on a dashboard the examples run from as few as one to around a dozen.

Interestingly, two of the examples that have a dozen or so charts are from Dundas, but because they are elegant and visually appealing you don’t feel overwhelmed by them.

Andy Cotgreave: Traditionally I’d have said they should fit on a single screen. But as mobile takes over, I think that is changing. The Financial Time Economies at a Glance dashboard is very very tall and designed for scrolling. It works extremely well on mobile. A starting rule of thumb would be to try to keep everything on one page.

 

How do you address the challenge of choosing the right type of chart for a given data set?

Steve Wexler: That is the raison d'être for the book! Given a particular predicament / scenario, and given the data you have, what is the chart or combination of charts that shine the most, brightest light on the subject?  That’s what we’re trying to do.

And very often that chart or combination of charts may not be what you expect.  Andy wrote a terrific chapter on visualizing time and shows there are so many cases where you don’t want to use a line chart.

Jeff Shaffer: It all starts what you are trying to show with the data. Presenting time is a great example. We have an entire chapter devoted to the different ways to show time, i.e. data over time. Typically a line chart would be a great way to show trend over time, but there are many other ways to visualize time.

 

What are the key mistakes people make in their dashboards?

Steve Wexler: Too much clutter and not enough clarity.  Plus we’ll often see people putting too much emphasis on decoration and not enough on information.

Jeff Shaffer: The misuse of color. People using color incorrectly or in an overwhelming way. We talk in depth about this in the opening chapter and throughout the book in many of the examples.

 

What advice would you give young professionals just getting started with visualizing data?

Steve Wexler: Seek feedback when building dashboards.  You need to meet with your audience, often, to make sure what you’re building actually helps the intended audience. 

 

What’s available for readers on the bigbookofdashboards.com site?

Steve Wexler: There are links to articles, podcasts, and workshops.  We’re also posted downloadable versions of many of the dashboards featured on the book.

 

Where can people follow all of you online?

Jeff Shaffer -- @highvizability, www.dataplusscience.com
Andy Cotgreave -- @acotgreave, gravyanecdote.com
Steve Wexler, @vizbizwiz, www.datarevelations.com

 

Are there any events coming up related to the book?

 Steve and Jeff are offering a workshop in Atlanta on June 14  and will be offering more workshops throughout the year (See http://bigbookofdashboards.com/workshops.html)

Andy, Jeff, and Steve will be offering a free webinar on how to build world-class business dashboards on June 21.  (See https://www.tableau.com/learn/webinars/big-book-of-dashboards)

We will all be at the Tableau Conference in Las Vegas, presenting sessions, and signing books!

 

Monday
Apr032017

The Data Visualization Toolkit signed book giveaway

For the April Giveaway, I have a signed copy of the Data Visualization Toolkit by Barrett Clark.  Register on the Giveaways Page by April 30th to be entered. 

From Amazon:
Data Visualization Toolkit is your hands-on, practical, and holistic guide to the art of visualizing data. You’ll learn how to use Rails, jQuery, D3, Leaflet, PostgreSQL, and PostGIS together, creating beautiful visualizations and maps that give your data a voice and to make it “dance.”
 
Barrett Clark teaches through real-world problems and examples developed specifically to illuminate every technique you need to generate stunningly effective visualizations. You’ll move from the absolute basics toward deep dives, mastering diverse visualizations and discovering when to use each. Along the way, you’ll build three start-to-finish visualization applications, using actual real estate, weather, and travel datasets.
 
Clark addresses every component of data visualization: your data, database, application server, visualization libraries, and more. He explains data transformations; presents expert techniques in JavaScript, Ruby, and SQL; and illuminates key concepts associated with both descriptive statistics and geospatial data. Throughout, everything is aimed at one goal: to help you cut through the clutter and let your data tell all it can.

Barrett recently gave a talk called "Making Data Dance" at the DFW DataViz Meetup event, and I had a chance to ask him a few quesitons:

What does it mean to make your data "Dance”?

Barrett Clark: I think data wants to tell a story. Our job is to figure out what that story is and how to best present it. Seeing the data in a visual way can make it come to life and dance.

 

Who is the book written for?

Barrett Clark: Data Visualization Toolkit focuses on looking at data from the perspective of a web developer. More specifically, I speak from the perspective of a developer writing Ruby on Rails apps. There is a fair amount of JavaScript and SQL throughout the book, and I try to explain what I am doing throughout the text. My goal was to make a book that is accessible to anyone while still giving more experienced developers something valuable.

 

Can readers get all of the data and code you reference in the book?

Barrett Clark: Absolutely! There are 3 different applications that readers will build throughout the book. The code and data for the applications are available on GitHub at http://DataVisualizationToolkit.com. I also have checkpoints throughout the text where you can see what the application should look like at that point. Those are enumerated in the README for each application.

 

Why do you prefer PostgreSQL as your database platform of choice?

Barrett Clark: I have worked with several databases. PostgreSQL, or Postgres as it is often called, is by far my favorite. It is a robust database that is easy to use, has a wide array of functions and data types, and is also extendable. You can easily add to the functionality of a Postgres database with an extension. In fact, the core database ships with dozens of extensions that you don't need to install. PostGIS, which allows you to store geospatial data and perform geospatial queries, is one of my favorite extensions.

 

Why is the database and transforming your data before your create the visualizations so important?

Barrett Clark: I have seen very few data sets where you can take data directly from the database into a chart -- especially with transactional data. You can perform the data transformations in the database using SQL, in the application server using the application's prorgamming language, or in the browser using JavaScript. Databases are really good at dealing with data, so I encourage people to not be afraid to write SQL to pull out the data in the format that you need it.

 

What are the challenges for visualizing data on websites?

Barrett Clark: Speed. When you have a lot of data you need to be thoughtful about how quickly you can get the data and display it in a meaningful way. This may require some additional setup to store data for reporting in a separate format so that you don't have to do the transformations in real time. Another challenge is that you have no control over the end user's viewing experience. Something that you think looks brilliant on your laptop may look awful on someone else's screen.

 

What’s different about visualizing geospatial data?

Barrett Clark: Geospatial data is a lot of fun! When you add location to the mix you open up a whole new arena of things that you can do visually with your data, and questions that you can ask of the data. I love maps. I take readers through the creation of one of my favorite types of map -- the choropleth. That's where you color areas (counties, states, etc) in a map based on the data.

 

Are your visualizations mostly static or interactive data visualizations?

Barrett Clark: There are some mouseover effects in my visualizations that help add more context to the graph or highlight something.

 

What are your thoughts on D3.js and its future?

Barrett Clark: I love D3, and I also love what Mike Bostock has done to build such a deep assortment of examples. Between the examples and the documentation I find D3 really fun to work with. The library is also very actively maintained. As soon as I shipped Data Visualization Toolkit a new version of D3 dropped. There are branches in all 3 sample project repositories on GitHub with the updates required for D3v4.

 

Are you speaking at any upcoming presentations or webinars?

Barrett Clark: In the past few months I've spoken at PGConf Silicon Valley in San Francisco and RubyConf Australia in Melbourne. I'll be taking a break from travel for a bit and focusing on local meetups. I try to get out to the Dallas Ruby meetups whenever possible.

 

What’s the best place to follow you online?

Barrett Clark: I'm @barrettclark on Twitter.

Wednesday
Mar292017

Visualising The Beatles Signed Book Giveaway

Don't miss your chance to register for the Giveaway in March! I have one SIGNED COPY of the new infographics book Visualising The Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas!

Register below by 11:59pm CT on March 31, 2017 to be entered. A winner will be randomly selected on April 1st.

This is the story of the Beatles told as never before.

Explored visually, through stunning infographics and data visualisations, this book takes you on a vibrant ride through the Beatles years – from their first Cavern Club gig to the release of Let It Be.

Presenting unique, witty and surprising facts and stories, covering everything from their style to plans
for a Beatles Island, Visualising the Beatles charts how four young men evolved into one of the world’s greatest bands. It also includes beautiful visuals created from the data their music left behind, divided by album, to allow you to spot, in an instant, the patterns, anomalies and changes in the band’s lyrics, instruments, songwriting and performances.

The perfect gift for any fan of the Beatles or infographics.


Thursday
Jan192017

Strata + Hadoop World Discount & Giveaway

The Strata + Hadoop World conference in San Jose, CA is coming up on March 13-16, 2017! Readers of Cool Infographics enjoy a 20% Discount by following THIS LINK and using the code PCCOOL!

Act fast! The 20% discount will continue to work all the way up until the conference, but to get the best deal Early Pricing ends on Friday, January 20th!

This month, I'm also giving away one free Bronze Pass to the conference. Register for your chance to win the free conference pass on the Giveaways Page!

Wednesday
Nov232016

Better Presentations by Jon Schwabish: Interview & Giveaway

Better Presentations by Jon Schwabish: Interview & Giveaway

Better Presentations: A Guide for Scholars, Researchers, and Wonks is a great new book by Jon Schwabish from the newly redesigned PolicyViz! I'm especially excited about the chapter all about data visualization in presentations!

This December, I am giving away one signed copy of Better Presentations! Register on the Giveaways Page by December 31st to be entered.

 Whether you are a university professor, researcher at a think tank, graduate student, or analyst at a private firm, chances are that at some point you have presented your work in front of an audience. Most of us approach this task by converting a written document into slides, but the result is often a text-heavy presentation saddled with bullet points, stock images, and graphs too complex for an audience to decipher―much less understand. Presenting is fundamentally different from writing, and with only a little more time, a little more effort, and a little more planning, you can communicate your work with force and clarity.

Designed for presenters of scholarly or data-intensive content, Better Presentations details essential strategies for developing clear, sophisticated, and visually captivating presentations. Following three core principles―visualize, unify, and focus―Better Presentations describes how to visualize data effectively, find and use images appropriately, choose sensible fonts and colors, edit text for powerful delivery, and restructure a written argument for maximum engagement and persuasion. With a range of clear examples for what to do (and what not to do), the practical package offered in Better Presentations shares the best techniques to display work and the best tactics for winning over audiences. It pushes presenters past the frustration and intimidation of the process to more effective, memorable, and persuasive presentations.

Everyone should follow Jon Schwabish on Twitter (@jschwabish) and check out all the great resources on PolicyViz!

 

Jon answered a bunch of questions I sent him about visualizing data and the new book:

Who is the book intended for?

Jon Schwabish: I wrote the book for people who deliver data-rich content—researchers, scholars, analysts—anyone who works with data and who needs to present it to an audience. In my experience, many people who work with data and conduct research simply take their written reports and convert them to presentations—they copy their graphs and tables and paste them into a slide, and turn their text into bullet points. But there is a better way and it starts with recognizing that a written report and a presentation are two fundamentally different forms of communication. The goal of this book is to help presenters all the way through the process: From presentation construction and design, to building the presentation, to ultimately delivering the presentation.

What makes presenting so different from writing?

Jon Schwabish: The differences between writing and presenting are clearest when you think carefully about the audience. When your reader sits down with your paper, she has the opportunity to read the notes and footnotes, decipher the labels on your charts, even perhaps work through your equations. When you present, however, your audience does not have that opportunity: They are bound to your pace and content. If you fill your slides with text and bullet points, equations, and complex, detailed graphs, your audience will strain to follow you and understand your message.

There are also (or at least there should be) similarities between the two—at least when it comes to your preparation. We are all taught in grade school to set out an outline when we write a book report. Yet, we rarely do this when it comes to presentations. In the book, I propose that presenters develop their presentation before they start making slides. I walk through this outlining process and provide a worksheet that readers can use to help them outline and develop their presentation.

What should readers expect to learn and apply to their own presentations?

Jon Schwabish: The book takes you through the entire process of planning, designing, and delivering your presentation by following three guiding principles:

  • Visualize your content. We are better able to grasp and retain information through pictures than through just words, so visualize your content when you can; this includes text, statistics, and numbers whenever possible.
  • Unify the elements of your presentation. This means consistency in your use of colors and fonts, format of your slides, and integrating what you say with what you show.
  • Focus your audience’s attention where you want it at all times. Instead of putting up as much information as possible on every slide, keep your slides simple and free of clutter so that you can direct your audience’s attention. Here, I demonstrate a technique I call Layering—presenting each piece of information on its own. Together, the points come back to the original, but are now presented in more effective way for the audience. 

These three guidelines are applied to different slide elements such as text, images, and data visualizations. in the latter sections of the book, I talk about tools and technologies to create and deliver presentations.

What are the key mistakes people make in their presentations?

Jon Schwabish: I think many people view their presentation as a simple translation of their written report to slides, but again, a presentation is a fundamentally different form of communication than a report. Presenters need to put their audience first—think about how difficult it’s going to be for them to absorb your content and buy into your message as you zip through bullet after bullet, slide after slide, dense table after table.

The other big mistake people make is to not practice their presentation before they deliver it. You can practice your 15-minute conference presentation four times in an hour, which is probably four more times than anyone else at the conference. And it will show! The more you practice—actually, rehearse is probably a better term—the more familiar you will be with your content, which will reduce the need for text- and bullet-point heavy presentation. Practicing moves you away from the natural inclination to include lots of text on your slides. 

 Why is visualizing data and information in a presentation so important?

Jon Schwabish: There is a long research history that demonstrates we are more likely to grasp and retain information through pictures than just through words (typically known as the “Picture Superiority Effect”). By visualizing information, you make it easier for your audience to grasp your content and remember it. Visualizing data may be even more important in a presentation because, again, your audience is bound to your pace and how you present your data through graph choice, color, and layout.

There is a long chapter in the book on how to create effective data visualizations for presentations. I walk through basic data visualization principles and outline ways to effective communicate those data in a presentation. I demonstrate ways you can apply the Layering technique to graphs, by showing one data series at a time. But you don’t need to just Layer data—if you’re showing a more complex graph (or perhaps a graph type that is new for your audience), for example, you can start by just showing and defining the axes, and then sequentially add your data. In this way, you have defined the graphic space for the audience so they are prepared for what comes next.

What are your thoughts on animated slide transitions and/or clicking to reveal different pieces of information on a slide? 

Jon Schwabish: I’m generally not a big fan of animated slide transitions, especially the good ol’ Blinds and Checkerboard in PowerPoint and other tools. They tend to look cheesy and immature. That being said, I have found some of the “morphing” animations—Magic Move in Keynote and Morph in the newest versions of PowerPoint—to be quite useful. Say, for example, you want to walk your audience through an infographic. With these morphing animations, you can show the entire infographic and then seamlessly zoom in and scroll through the infographic on the screen. These sorts of techniques can be especially useful when you need to show the audience the full visual and then zoom in so they can see the details.

You also recently gave your presentation at a TED event. Can you share your experience?

Jon Schwabish: I spoke at the TEDxJNJ (Johnson & Johnson) event in Philadelphia. I was invited months earlier and even though I basically knew what I wanted to present right off the bat, it was a long haul to get the message just right and get the slides in great shape. I spent countless hours refining my message (especially the beginning and end), tweaking the slides, and practicing the talk.

When you’re invited to give a TEDx talk, you’re assigned a ‘coach’ who helps you develop your talk and design your visuals. We had weekly calls as I kept tweaking my message, content, and slides; I would send her audio recordings of my practice runs; and we would walk through slide design options. Just having someone who knew my content, my slides, and my struggles was invaluable. I typically try to rehearse my presentations in front of a live audience (and many of my co-workers at the Urban Institute sat in as I practiced the TEDx talk), but this experience really made me realize how valuable it is to have someone to help bounce ideas, concepts, and design off of.

Standing on that big red circle with the TEDx sign behind me was an incredible experience, and I’m thankful that people find my message value and of interest, and that I can communicate that to them in an engaging way.

Is there a website to go along with the book?

Jon Schwabish: Yes, my newly-redesigned website PolicyViz, has a whole section dedicated to the book (http://policyviz.com/better-presentations/).In that section of the site, you will find presentation, design, and data visualization resources including blogs, books, and tools. I’ve also included a section of Book Materials that you can download for your own use. In that section, I’ve included a Better Presentations Supplies Checklist that includes the technical things you may need when you go out and present. I’ve also included a Better Presentations Worksheet (the focus of Chapter 1), which will help guide your outline and organization. I’ve also included downloadable slides, icons, color palettes, and more.

Where’s the best place to follow you online?

Jon Schwabish: You can follow me on my newly-redesigned website, PolicyViz.com, which now hosts my blog, podcast, shop, and HelpMeViz project. I’m also active on the Urban Institute blog, Urban Wire, and have a researcher page there as well. I’m most active on Twitter, and you can easily find me there @jschwabish.

 

Jon's Bio

Jon Schwabish is an economist, writer, teacher, and creator of policy-relevant data visualizations. He is considered a leading voice for clarity and accessibility in how researchers communicate their findings. His new book Better Presentations: A Guide for Scholars, Researchers, and Wonks helps people improve the way they prepare, design, and deliver data-rich content. He is on Twitter @jschwabish

 

Tuesday
Aug232016

Strata-Hadoop World NYC Conference Pass Giveaway & Discount

Strata-Hadoop World NYC Conference Pass Giveaway & Discount

The O'Reilly Strata+Hadoop World conference is coming up September 26-29 in New York City, NY!

First, I have a discount code from O'Reilly that will get you 20% OFF the registration cost!  Click THIS LINK and use the code PCCOOL during checkout to get the 20% discount.

Second, this month's giveaway is one free pass to the Strata+Hadoop World NYC conference! Register on the GIVEAWAYS page before 11:59pm CT on September 2, 2016 to be entered. I will randomly chose a winner on September 3rd.

Friday
Aug052016

Big Design 2016 Discount & Giveaway

Big Design 2016 Conference

The Big Design 2016 conference is coming up September 8-10 in Addison, TX (in the DFW area)! Big Design is a fabulous conference covering User Experience, Design, Data Visualization, Digital Marketing, Content Strategy and Usability! This year I'll be there signing copies of Cool Infographics, and I'll be giving a new talk "What Is Good Dataviz Design?"

First, I have a discount code from Big Design that will get you 20% OFF the registration cost!  Use the code DATAVIZ during checkout to get the 20% discount.

Second, this month's giveaway is one free pass to the Big Design 2016 conference! Register on the GIVEAWAYS page before 11:59pm CT on August 19, 2016 to be entered. I will randomly chose a winner on August 20th.

Friday
May272016

The Infographic Resume by Hannah Morgan: Interview & Giveaway

The Infographic Resume is a fabulous book by Hannah Morgan from Career Sherpa! I have a chapter dedicated to infographic resumes in my book, Cool Infographics, but this is the only entire book I've seen dedicated to infographic resumes anywhere. Find more on Hannah's book page.

This month I am giving away one signed copy of The Infographic Resume! Register on the Giveaways Page by June 30th to be entered.

Infographic resumes are in, and they’re not just for designers. Free online tools are popping up every day to help anyone create a dynamic, visual resume—adding panache without sacrificing substance for style.

The Infographic Resume provides essential tips and ideas for how to create visual resumes and portfolios that will make you stand out from the crowd. Richly illustrated in full color and including lots of inspiring examples, the book will teach you how to:

  • Create a powerful digital presence and develop the right digital content for your goals
  • Build your self-brand and manage your online reputation
  • Showcase your best work online
  • Grab a hiring manager’s attention in seconds

Packed with dynamic infographics, visual resumes, and other creative digital portfolios, The Infographic Resume reveals the most effective tools, eye-catching strategies, and best practices to position yourself for any job in any kind of business.

Everyone should follow Hannah Morgan on Twitter (@careersherpa)! She shares her wisdom and insights on resumes, hiring and career issues openly. You can download her Infographic Resume Cheat Sheet, and she maintains a Pinterest Board gallery of Infographic and Visual Resumes.

 

Hannah answered a handful of questions about The Infographic Resume:

How would you define an infographic resume?

Hannah: An infographic resume converts your work experience into visual pieces such as charts and graphs. Instead of finding the right words to write about your skills and achievements, you can present the most important parts of your experience visually. While this may sound difficult for some people, especially those without design skills, it can actually be liberating. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Chapter 1 was great! Could you summarize your chapter on How We Got Where We Are Today?

Hannah: You may have noticed infographics and other visual elements appearing more often in newspapers, marketing materials and social media than in the past. We are inundated with information and rely on our smart phones for on-the-go access. Reading large blocks of text takes time and it is even more difficult to read on a mobile device. Studies indicate that the brain processes pictures faster than words. Other studies say pictures increase comprehension, increase the time people spend on a website, and increase sharing of updates on social media. Job seekers can leverage these trends to their advantage. Savvy job seekers know today’s job market is highly competitive. To make matters worse, almost every company has an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which typically weeds out candidates and results in the dreaded “black hole” of no response. Technology has enabled job seekers to break out of the standard “apply online and wait” mold. By applying out-of-the-box marketing strategies such as social media campaigns, personal websites and infographic resumes, job seekers can do more to stand out and garner the attention they crave (and deserve). 

How would you describe the current state of the market for infographic resumes?

Hannah: Infographic resumes deviate from the expected and that is the very reason to use one. Most job seekers will not use one either because they don’t know about them, don’t know how to create on or think it would be risky to try and use one. In my opinion, the rewards outweigh the risk. Go ahead, use an infographic resume.

What are some of the more unexpected jobs or careers that you have seen candidates use an infographic resume?

Hannah: The early adopters of infographic resumes were people who had graphic design skills. But infographic resumes are being created by technical writers, sales representatives, information technology specialists and many other types of occupations. Infographic resumes demonstrate creativity and innovative thinking which are qualities valued in marketing departments, information technology, and start-up organizations, just to name a few. Consider the culture of the organization and the requirements of the role to help determine if an infographic resume might be successful opening doors.

Are there any risks associated with infographic resumes?

Hannah: There are some things you should know before you use an infographic resume. First, and foremost, do not use infographic resumes when submitting through applicant tracking systems! The technology used in ATSs cannot read visual content. You should also take into consideration who you are sending your infographic resume to. Typically, people in human resource and recruiting roles expect to see the traditional, conservative text resume. These roles often have to review hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes and do not have time to search your infographic for skills and work history. A better strategy is to send your infographic resume to the actual hiring manager or to a contact you have made inside the organization. Infographic resumes also make a great addition to your LinkedIn profile as embedded media in the summary section. If you have a personal website or online portfolio, an infographic resume works well there too. If you are proactively networking with people in your field of interest, bring your infographic resume to the meeting and share it to guide the conversation. And why not bring an infographic resume to an interview to impress the interviewers?

What types of reactions to infographic resumes are you hearing from hiring managers and recruiters?

Hannah:  About a year ago, I polled the recruiters, human resource professionals and career coaches in my network to get their feedback on infographic resumes and the overwhelming response was positive. In fact, 68 percent said they would look at an infographic resume, 32 percent said it would depend and no one said that they wouldn’t look at one. Here are some of the comments I received: 

“I would welcome a fresh, newer idea, which this is, as opposed to the same old resume.” -Hiring Manager

“Shows some creativity.”  -Other

“Yes! I would be thrilled with the creativity, and it would definitely be a resume that would stand out from the pack.” – Hiring Manager

“Yes, because normal resumes are boring.” -Other

Do you have your own infographic resume that I could share?

Hannah: Since I don’t have design skills, I rely on tools that convert my LinkedIn profile into an infographic resume, like this one created using vizualize.me. There are so many tools available to help create infographics so even people without design skills or familiarity with design software can dabble in infographics. I’ve written about four of those tools here: http://careersherpa.net/4-templates-for-infographic-resumes/

 

Hannah's Bio:

Hannah Morgan is the Founder, CareerSherpa.net and a Job Search Strategist. She is a speaker and author on  job search and social media strategies. She delivers fresh advice and serves as a guide to the treacherous terrain of today’s workplace landscape. Hannah’s experience in Human Resources, Outplacement Services, Workforce Development and Career Services equip her with a 360 degree perspective on job search topics. Recognized by media and career professionals, Hannah is an advocate who encourages job seekers to take control of their job search. Hannah is frequently quoted in local and national publications and she writes a weekly column for U.S. News & World Report.

Hannah is the author of “The Infographic Resume” (McGraw Hill Education, 2014) and co-author of “Social Networking for Business Success” (Learning Express, 2013). You can learn more about Hannah on CareerSherpa.net and by following her on Twitter at @careersherpa.

Friday
Apr152016

The Truthful Art by Alberto Cairo: Interview & Giveaway

The Truthful Art is the newest book by Alberto Cairo, and the second book of a longer, planned series. Following the huge acclaim and success of his last book, The Functional Art, Alberto expertly dives into getting data visualizations both accurate and designed for effective communication. 

This month I am giving away one signed copy of The Truthful Art! Register on the Giveaways Page by April 30th to be entered.

The Truthful Art explains:

• The role infographics and data visualization play in our world

• Basic principles of data and scientific reasoning that anyone can master

• How to become a better critical thinker

• Step-by-step processes that will help you evaluate any data visualization (including your own)

• How to create and use effective charts, graphs, and data maps to explain data to any audience

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami, where he teaches courses on infographics and data visualization. He is also director of the Visualization program of UM's Center for Computational Science, and Visualization Innovator in Residence at Univisión, besides being a consultant for several tech companies. He is the author of the books The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (2012) and The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication (2016).

Everyone should follow Alberto Cairo on Twitter (@albertocairo)! He is one of the most vocal dataviz experts online, and shares his wisdom and insights openly. Also, you can download a sample of the new book with the first 40 pages of the book available on Google Drive.

I sent Alberto a handful of questions about The Truthful Art:

Who is the book intended for?

In the Epilogue I joke that I wrote 'The Truthful Art' for my past self, 8 or 10 years ago. As a journalist and designer, I didn't receive appropriate training in data reasoning in college, and that led me to make many mistakes in my career. The book is for communicators of any kind (journalists, graphic designers, marketing folks) who need to deal with data on a regular basis. It's certainly a book about data visualization and infographics, but it also covers the steps that come before you start designing anything: Getting your information as right as possible.

How do you define the difference between a visualization and an infographic?

In the book I explain that the boundary between these and other genres is very fuzzy. For me, an infographic is a combination of words and visuals (charts, maps, diagrams, illustrations) that makes a certain story understandable for people. The designer decides what data to show, and how to structure it, sometimes as a narrative or story. A data visualization doesn't necessarily tell a story, but it enables people to come up with their own conclusions, by letting them explore the information. Infographics emphasize explanation, data visualizations emphasize exploration.

What does it mean for a visualization to be truthful?

The whole book deals with this topic. In general, it requires a proper, honest, and thorough exploration of your information; asking people who know more than you do about it; and then a proper choice of visual forms to represent it.

Why are we more likely to accept visual information as truth?

It's not just visual information, it's any kind of information. We human beings aren't skeptical by nature. Our default is belief.

It is only when we become aware of the multiple ways our own brain, and other people, can trick us that we begin questioning what we see, read, hear, and feel. It is true, though, that recent research has shown that visualizations make messages more credible; this is something that can be used for good or for evil.

I don't know why many of us tend to take visualizations at face value, but it may have to do with the fact that most of us unconsciously associate charts and data maps with science. Those graphics look so precise, so crisp, so elegant! They must be accurate and truthful, right? --Well, perhaps not!

How difficult is it to choose the right chart style?

Not that difficult if you think about the message that you want to convey, or the tasks you want to enable, instead of relying just on your personal aesthetic preferences. I love maps, and I wrote an entire, long chapter about them for the book, but that doesn't mean that everything should be a map. A map may give you certain insights, but may also obscure others. In many cases, a chart may be better.

How can we become better skeptics and critical thinkers when we see data visualizations?

The key is to remember a maxim that I repeat in the book: A visualization is not something to be seen, but something to be read. Approach data visualizations and infographics not as beautiful illustrations (although beauty is a very important feature) to be looked at quickly, but as visual essays. Read them carefully, ask yourself if the designer is showing everything that needs to be shown. Remember that a single number or variable means very little on its own. In infographics, context is everything, and comparisons are paramount.

Is complexity the enemy of good data visualization design?

Far from it. Many designers believe that data visualizations and infographics are intended to “simplify” data. As my friend, the designer Nigel Holmes, has repeatedly said, infographics shouldn't simplify, but clarify. Clarification in some cases means reducing the amount of information you present, but in many others it requires you to increase it. In the book I show some examples of graphics that fail because their designers reduced the data so much that they rendered it meaningless. If a story is complex, its representation will necessarily be complex as well.

This said, it is good to be reminded of that old maxim commonly attributed to Einstein: Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. Over-complicated visualizations are also problematic. If your message is simple or trivial, why creating an extremely intricate graphic?

What’s available for readers on the book website: http://www.thefunctionalart.com/p/the-truthful-art-book.html?

For now, www.thefunctionalart.com contains my blog, contact information, information about both books, and some other resources. I have added software tutorials, and will soon post some of the data from the book. My professional website, http://www.albertocairo.com/, which will be launched soon, will contain more resources.

Are you speaking at any upcoming presentations or webinars?

Yes. I post most of my speaking engagements and consulting gigs here: http://www.thefunctionalart.com/p/speaking-schedule.html

Where’s the best place to follow you online?

My blog and Twitter. I use Twitter (@albertocairo) to take notes for myself, and save interesting resources, so if you want to see what I see or read what I read, that's the place to go!

 

Tuesday
Feb092016

O'Reilly Strata Conference Discount & Giveaway

The O'Reilly Strata+Hadoop World conference is coming up quickly on March 28-31 in San Jose, CA.

First, I have a discount code from O'Reilly that will get you 20% OFF the registration cost! Click this link, and use the code AFF20 during checkout to get the 20% discount.

Second, this month's giveaway is one free Bronze pass to the Strata conference! Register on the GIVEAWAYS page before 11:59pm CT on February 29, 2016 to be entered. I will randomly chose a winner on March 1st.