UX London: Designing Our Way Through Data

by June 15, 2009

Jeff Veen’s Designing Our Way Through Data presentation at UX London 2009 described how a combination of information visualization techniques, individual participation, and passion can help create the future of the Web.

  • 1974: represent the end of the sixties. Took cutting edge ideas and pulled them into the mainstream. Centralized authority being pulled apart and put into distributed packets (Internet).
  • There’s a growing amount of participation in media instead of just consumption.
  • Now have sophisticated tools for participation coupled with high scale of data.
  • Managing huge amounts of data. 24 hours of video uploaded every 8 seconds to YouTube.
  • On an average data set, can layer in labeling, hierarchy, can use design elements to tell a story.
  • Decorating data can be dangerous as it may distract rather than provide value.
  • Dr. John Snow had a hypothesis that cholera might have been water-bound not air-bound. Laid data points on a map of existing sewer system to identify source of outbreak.
  • Visualizations can illuminate stories inside of datasets.
  • Google data analytics team was inspired by Indiana Jones to simplify their graphs of data.
  • Find a story in the data and communicate it.
  • Assign different visual cues to each dimension of the data.
  • Remove everything that isn’t telling the story.
  • Tools of participation influence how much of the story you can control. On the Web, designers have less control.
  • Give tools to people to manipulate their own stories. Create interesting filters for people to manipulate information.
  • Storytelling now moves to discovery
  • Visual cues in stories are now interactive elements in data sets
  • Editing data sets is now filtering.
  • Know yourself first but learn about your users.
  • Research is like traveling: an experience to learn more about the world.