Data storytelling

June 23, 2018

“2017 has been a great year for design,” says Craig Taylor, senior data visualisation design manager at Ito World. “We’ve witnessed a boom in animated visualisations and an increased appetite for data representation from a 3D perspective. But what use is this data, beautiful or otherwise, if it’s not digestible and ultimately usable?”

Enter what Taylor calls the information storyteller.

 “There is now a huge emphasis on effective storytelling through design, conveying often complex information as simply and as engagingly as possible to a variety of audiences,” he explains. “Designers are thinking outside the box with new, bespoke creations – the muted palettes of old ditched in favour of vibrant colour transitions paired with minimalist yet bold typography.”

So what does 2018 hold for information design? 

“Greater accessibility to new technology will undoubtedly see an increase in the number of designers using animation as a means of storytelling,” believes Taylor.

“And with AR and VR advancements ushering in the prospect of simulated exploration of virtual models, it’s important that we remember to keep information and data at the heart of what we do. If we get this right, the overlapping spheres of data science and design will allow for ever increasingly informative, grounded and clear examples of data visualisation.”

‍IKEA and Apple recently teamed up on an augmented reality home design app

Lee Fasciani agrees that AR and VR have much more to offer going forward. 

“Technology has enabled us to more readily mix our real world with our screen-based world,” he says. “We’re moving on from an increasing desire to add video to our digital experiences; layering them with a depth and richness unachievable not so long ago."

"A mixed reality brings us firmly into the ‘new’, with large tech firms committed to innovating in AR, future design will need to consider our world in all four dimensions. We are seeing the start of this mixed reality in popular games and more function applications such as IKEA Place.”

For beginners looking to start exploring simpler data visualisation, there are plenty of new tools available. 

"Libraries like D3.JS are great but can be a little intimidating for non-developers," says data visualisation expert Mike Brondbjerg. "But there are lots of platforms now that will import, visualise and host your data projects. Platforms like Datawrapper are great for easily producing a range of standard charts, and Flourish are doing great things with journalistic, storytelling style visualisations."

‍ Mike Brondbjerg's work visualise data in new ways

However, with all this innovation must come some caution. Brondbjerg offers a word of warning:

 "In the age of fake news, high-quality data viz also needs to mean clear, transparent and trustworthy."

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