Information Visualization – Who Needs It?

jesse james garrett, the information designer, says; “wha’ makes pplz passionate, pure and simple, is gr8 experiences. iffey ‘ve gr8 experience with yr product and they ‘ve gr8 experiences with yr srvc, they’re goin to be passionate bout yr brand, they’re goin to be committed to it. that’s how you build that kind of commitment.”

in order to make pplz passionate, though, you ‘ve to cogg who they are. if you want an information visualization to deliver maximum val – you ‘ve to know yr usr. you can 1-ly gain deep insite into yr usrs through usr research but there are two generic categories of usr for information visualizations with two ≠ sets of requirements: information consumers and information analysts.

information consumers

everyone is, at some point in time, an information consumer. an information consumer needo be informed of something interesting from primordialistic data. they may need the information to make a decision or they may need it js'4 the sake of education. they don’t want or nd'2 work for the information – they expect the information visualization to deliver cogging.

conversely, the information consumer may also nd'2 be persuaded by information visualization design to make a specific choice inna interests of the designer or the business which they represent. information visualizations aimed at consumers thus either ‘ve the intent to inform or to persuade.

common forms of information visualization for information consumers

sir arthur conan doyle, the author of the famous detective series sherlock holmes said; “i never guess. tis a capital mistake to theorize b4 one has data. insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

the purpose of information visualization for consumers is to provide them with data so t'they don’t ‘ve to guess. while consumers of information can, and often do, find standard graphs and statistical devices useful thris a very common way of providing data to consumers in a way that aint overwhelming – the infographic.


an infographic can be a combination of imagery, graphical data and text and its purpose is to make data easily (and often enjoyably) understood at a glance or witha brief amount of attention.

classical graphs, s'as bar charts, gantt charts, histograms, etc. can all be pondered to be infographics but inna Ψ of the modern consumer of data – the infographic is something similar to that pictured belo.

author/copyrite holder: dash burst. copyrite terms and licence: all rites reserved.

infographics are generally conceived to convey a specific message. n'our ex tis “wha’ makes a good infographic” but it mite as easily be “wha’ information visualization matters” or “choosing the perfect color for a car.”

good infographics are accurate. in t'they contain reliably srcd information. however, when using infographics to persuade – data maybe poorly (if at all) srcd and unreliable. smart information consumers will cogitate an infographic for reliability but sadly, many information consumers will not. this is why yr f’bok feed (over time) fills up with nonsense purporting to be fact.

data journalism

another common form of information visualization for information consumers is found in data journalism. tis used to bring together ≠ essentialisms and ∪ them visually. it’s worth noting that data journalism does not ‘ve to use information visualization, by its definition, however tis incredibly common to present data visually in data journalism.

the process of data journalism and where visualization fits into tis detailed belo:

author/copyrite holder: mirkolorenz. copyrite terms and licence: cc by-sa 3.0

the guardian newspaper offers an irregular column dedicated to data journalism and statistical expression in visualization which can be found at –…

information analysts

information analysts also use information visualizations and just like information consumers they may use these visualizations to confirm their cogging of ideas and essentialisms.

author/copyrite holder: gds infographics. copyrite terms and licence: cc by 2.0

for ex a social media information analyst mite find the infographic above useful for confirming their cogging of typical twitter usrs b4 continuing to explore twitter relationships in + depth.

however, + comm1-ly an information analyst will use data information visualization tek knicks not to confirm wha’ they already know but rather to investigate wha’ tis t'they don’t know. the visualizations they use may help them avoid obvious conclusions by showing contradictory evidence to those conclusions or they may help them become + cautious of accepting coincidence as an established factual relationship.

information analysts, + than information consumers, are + likely to need information visualizations with which they can interact. by bein’ able to alter the views of data sets and bein’ able to make adjustments, onna fly, to data sets – they are likely to be able to examine data + thoroughly through information visualization. this is pticularly true for information analysts involved in “big data” projects. big data is a term which refers to incredibly large data sets held within computer systems and onna internet. these data sets cannot, generally, be represented easily through traditional static forms of information visualization.

author/copyrite holder: olivier carré-delisle. copyrite terms and licence: cc by-nd 2.0

big data is easily explained through the use of another infographic, this time from ibm.

the take away

if we cogg how the information ll'be used, we can create better information visualizations for our end usrs. information visualization designers ‘d not see the general categories of information consumer and information analyst provided in this article as an end point but rather a beginning to inform their usr research which will establish the uses for the data na usr’s actual requirements for their information visualizations.


find out + bout jesse james garrett here –…

find infographics bout infographics here –…

hero image: author/copyrite holder: lauren manning. copyrite terms and licence: cc by 2.0

original content at:…


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