Data Visualization is the study of data in a visual representation. A designer can take complicated information and break it down into visuals that are easier to understand. Being a visual learner myself makes me appreciate this skill of using graphics to educate. This method simplifies information by making it more accessible and it let’s the viewer see quick connections through design.
There are many fields that data visualization becomes relevant to communicate the message. For example, art, science, business, computers, networks, music, patterns, politics, social networks, transportation and more. Each of these fields may represent data differently. It varies depending on the relationships and content that is being visualized.
A good example of how data visualization is used is Google Plus’ use of D3, which is a form of analytics that allows you to view people within your circle and how you are connected to them. As a Google Plus user it is helpful to see your relationships. D3 has taken this to the next level with data visualization. They use what they call The Circle of Trust experiment using the Google Plus API, HTML5, and a simple algorithm to visualize the people who are inside your circle of trust and the people who are out. This diagram uses circles, connecting lines and colors to show the different relationships. This is not just a list of numbers, it is a visual that shows the connections between users. Google Plus users can see their own circle here: http://www.d3.do/labs/circleoftrust/
A second example of how data visualization is used is by GE who takes common health conditions that affect Americans today and creates associations between conditions. The user can view the data in two different diagrams, by male or female, search, and by color. If you hover over a circle, a bubble with additional information pops up. The data is pulled from a proprietary database of 7.2 million records. Because there is such a large amount of data it is helpful to see the data in a simple form. It may have a dramatic effect on how we relate health conditions and the way we treat them because of the associations that are presented in this diagram. Try it out yourself: http://visualization.geblogs.com/visualization/network/
Data visualization can be a helpful design tool to see connections with others or for educational purposes. The process of visualizing data in different ways can inspire and educate people all over the world. It offers world-wide communication because of its use of visuals instead of words, and it avoids the barrier of language. Here is a great website with more examples of Data Visualization http://www.visualcomplexity.com/vc/. Feel free to share other inspiring examples!