1: Introduction to Data Visualisation


What is explored in the lecture

  • What is data visualisation?
  • Why we need it
  • What data is
  • The difference between data visualisation and an infographic
  • Basic understanding of what a data visualiser does

Data Visualisation is a mass medium. It is an essential part in the communication process. The amount of data grows exponentially with a 23 Exabytes per seven days.

As Individuals, we create a lot of data:

  • Social media Footprint (e.g. Facebook, Instagram)
  • Smart phones
  • Credit cards and purchases
  • Travel

Designers engage with the:

  • Aesthetics
  • Forms
  • Politics of data presentation

What is data?

Data are a measurement of values or quantitative variables belonging to a set of items. They can be viewed in graphs and images. Data, information and knowledge are overlapping concepts.

The process to present the data is:

  1. Data (Research)
  2. Information (Presentation)
  3. Knowledge (Conversation- Experience)
  4. Wisdom (Interpretation)

What is Data Visualisation?

The visualisation of data.” 
The goal is to communicate information clearly and efficiently through:

  • Statistical graphics
  • Plots
  • Information graphics
Visual Vocabulary (GitHub, 2017)

Information Graphics vs. Data Visualisation

  • Not all information visualisations are based on data, but all data visualisations are information data (For e.g. information visualisations may show a process/step)
  • Needs to have proper measurements of an x/y axis. Better data information displays titles such as location an age.

Effective visualisation helps:

  • Analyse and reason the data and evidence
  • Complex data is accessible, understandable and usable

Users may have analytical tasks such as:

  • Comparisons
  • Understanding causality 

Focus on:

  • Right visualisation type or things you want to visualise
  • Wrangling data to use

If there are two variables, a bar graph offers a simple yet effective design.
If the data is over time, a line graph or a timeline would be effective.
Perks: audience knows these graphs well

Over the next few weeks these aspects will be learnt:

  • Standard and non-standard data vs time and how to use it
  • Collecting data
  • Organising said data
  • Telling a story with the said data


The lecture pod explores data visualisation and why it is essential. It is important that we can convey a mass of information in a way that is comprehensible and accurate. This can be done with graphs and charts. It provides an opportunity for comparisons for this such as causality, rates and trends.

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