Great visualization requires design. The use of standard forms and visual mappings can deliver reasonable results, but you can achieve greater effectiveness by tailoring visual representations to the data and the information sought.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that design is simply the cosmetic process of taking something and making it pretty. Great visualization design is about maximizing human performance. Effectiveness of visualization is about communicating the best possible information more fully, more clearly, and more quickly. Different forms are ideal for different problems. Choosing visual representations and interactions for data elements can make a significant difference in how accurately, easily, and quickly the viewer can perceive information. Information visualization design is the art of making those choices.
Design is both an art and a science. For example, many of the decisions made in designing an opera house involve a great deal of science about how humans interact with and in a built environment. Yet, no two opera houses look the same, and it would be inconceivable to think of fully automating the design of one. That’s where the art of design comes in.
Visualization design is guided by principles of human perception and cognition, the specific information-seeking goals and experience of a user community, and the characteristics of data. Synthesis of a system that satisfies all of these complex factors is an art.
Many of ...