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Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

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chapter 5 think like a designer

Form follows function. This adage of product design has clear application to communicating with data. When it comes to the form and function of our data visualizations, we first want to think about what it is we want our audience to be able to do with the data (function) and then create a visualization (form) that will allow for this with ease. In this chapter, we will discuss how traditional design concepts can be applied to communicating with data. We will explore affordances, accessibility, and aesthetics, drawing on a number of concepts introduced previously, but looking at them through a slightly different lens. We will also discuss strategies for gaining audience acceptance of your visual designs.

Designers know the fundamentals of good design but also how to trust their eye. You may think to yourself, But I’m not a designer! Stop thinking this way. You can recognize smart design. By becoming familiar with some common aspects and examples of great design, we will instill confidence in your visual instincts and learn some concrete tips to follow and adjustments to make when things don’t feel quite right.

Affordances

In the field of design, experts speak of objects having “affordances.” These are aspects inherent to the design that make it obvious how the product is to be used. For example, a knob affords turning, a button affords pushing, and a cord affords pulling. These characteristics suggest how the object is to be interacted with ...

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