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Smashing Magazine has produced an excellent list of some of the best data visualization examples on the Web today (hat tip to Melissa Worden). While creator Mike Bostock made the initial commit to GitHub in late 2010, D3 hit its stride in 2011. Media artist Roger Luke DuBois used online dating data to show the uniqueness of cities in America.
From Bloom, Planetary is an iPad app that visualizes your iTunes music as a solar system, bringing your data into a more playful and exploratory context. The OECD has a lot of data about countries, and it can be hard to make all of data accessible at once. With the troubles in Japan caused by mother nature, possible radiation hazards were in the news. Similarly, after the tornado in Joplin, Missouri killed more than 100 people, The New York Times put things into perspective. The way that people use web services has gotten a lot more interesting with the growth of mobile tech. Facebook intern Paul Butler’s map came out in 2010 just after I made my top picks for that year. There was an idea floating around that if you continuously follow the first link on Wikipedia pages, you will always end up at philosophy.
While the short film about a lonely desk toy traveling cross-country via Google Streetview isn’t exactly a data visualization, it deserves a shout. Gareth Lloyd showed the history of the world in 100 seconds, using geotagged entries on Wikipedia. Sharing on the Web is often depicted as time series charts and bar graphs, and measured by number of retweets and likes.
Hi Nathan, I also agree with your selection of Mike Bostock’s D3 as the most significant development and think it will have an even more prominent 2012 as the take up cascades deeper and wider (myself included).
Interestingly, nuclear engineers I know considered Monroe’s graphic a horribly confusing and useless mess.
Don’t forget the Russian physicist Sergei Shpilkin, who published statistical methods to check whether or not elections are fair (and in Russia they are not). People get married at various ages, but there are definite trends that vary across demographic groups. Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does. The primary distinction between data visualization software and a full-blown business intelligence (BI) solution is the quality of the visualizations one can produce. This guide covers the factors one should consider when attempting to select and implement the best data visualization tools for their business.
There are a number of scenarios in which you may be considering adding a data visualization tool to your BI arsenal. You may be looking to implement a new BI solution and are aware of a particular need for quality, integrated visualization and reporting functionalities. In a second scenario, you may already have a BI solution, but it might lack sufficient visualization capabilities.
The last scenario is that you have no BI software, and you feel that a full-blown BI solution is overkill. If your data visualization tool is not overlaying a BI system, but is functioning as your primary BI solution, then it is very important to ensure that it will connect smoothly with your data sources. Your data may be stored in a relational data warehouse, a Hadoop cluster, NoSQL, or a cloud-based system. The best visualizations are dynamic, and allow you to peer deeper into and manipulate the data in real time. In a timeline visualization, this could be a slider empowering you to go at your own pace through time to observe how changes in one metric relate to the changes in others. Treemaps, streamgraphs, bubble charts, infographics, geographic maps and three-dimensional scatter plots are all commonly referenced and are a good place to start when making sure the solution has all the standard visualization templates. With so many options, however, it would be easy to get caught up in using every visualization you can find. Whether your visualization solution will be part of a broader BI system or not, you’ll want the ability to include your visualization in a dashboard.

The case study under the header “Data Visualization in Use” describes a company's implementation of individualized dashboards for each manager based on the key performance indicators most relevant to their decision making.
Mobile access allows you to view your visualizations and data through any internet connected device. Beyond personal convenience, mobile access makes data easier to retrieve for everyone, ensuring more decision makers are properly informed. Self-serviceability is the degree to which a non-technical business user can operate the data visualization software. Training and Support If you can’t meet your needs with a self-service solution, you will want to ensure that the provider you choose supplies sufficient training resources and support, so your analysts can work as efficiently as possible. Which will be the best data visualization tools is dependent on the decision between a cloud or on-premise solution, which rests largely on the location of your data and your existing BI infrastructure. If both your data and BI solution are in the cloud, then you will want a cloud-based visualization solution capable of integrating with the particular cloud systems already in use. As far as security, your visualizations may contain company data that shouldn’t fall into the hands of your competitors. Eurac, an international brake disc manufacturer, needed a better way to create and view reports. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system implemented by Eurac in 2011 failed to produce reports frequently (taking up to two weeks or a month to produce) and the reports required technically skilled staff to be customized. After a successful free trial tasked to an IT intern, Eurac implemented a Logi Info, a Logi Analytics data visualization and dashboarding solution. Now Eurac managers have access to real-time reports on dashboards personalized to the key performance indicators (KPIs) most relevant to their department.
The benefits provided by Logi Analytics have resulted in a nearly immediate 50 percent return on investment for Eurac, partly due to the reduction in ERP licenses required.
The distance to McDonald’s is shown in this somewhat shocking data visualization map of the United States.
The more the graphic allows manipulation from the user, the longer she’ll stick around.
Here’s a good video tutorial from Flashmastah Ray Villalobos on how to use XML and Flash, as well as many more Flash and XML resources at Kirupa and advice from Mindy McAdams. Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
If last year (and maybe the year before) was the year of the gigantic graphic, this was the year of big data. With Flash becoming less prevalent and HTML5 becoming more so, the lightweight JavaScript library is becoming many developers’ choice when it comes to visualization on the Web. In place of city names are the words that people in those cities used more often in their online dating profiles than anywhere else. Moritz Stefaner and Raureif, in collaboration with the OECD, did this with the Better Life Index.
My wife always has to try on so many jeans and once she finds a brand, she tends to stick with it for years. An animated and interactive map showed tornados and where they touched down, starting in 1950.
The map shows the reach of Facebook, and more interestingly, I think, where Facebook isn’t used.
Jeffrey Winter put together a mashup to try out the idea, and whattaya know, everything does lead to philosophy. Because of that, the data has a slant towards Europe and the US, but it’s interesting to watch nevertheless. Visual representations help people comprehend such information, and encourage a wider range of insight. Some BI solutions, though excellent at crunching the numbers according to your data analysts’ specifications, fall short of allowing you to present your results to others. In this case you’ll want data visualization software that can integrate with your existing BI program, and enhance your project. Some of the best data visualization tools come with enough data mining and analysis functionality to create the visualizations you want directly from the data, allowing you to manipulate it for insight much like a broader BI program. Not all visualization solutions have pre-built integrations, and if your data system is custom built, you will want to check if your selected solution can be easily configured to integrate with it.

In a geographic map this may be zooming in from the world map to a state level or city map and comparing the distribution of your data points in one city to the distribution of data points in another city. Different charts, graphs and infographics abound, and it is worthwhile to peruse the various types provided by your potential solution. Pre-built templates can speed up the process of creating reports and lighten the load on your data analysts. Remember, the most successful BI efforts begin with a goal in mind and find the tool that will best carry out that goal.
Having the right visualizations and reports collected in one quickly accessible location helps minimize the time from analysis to action.
Whether out of the office, at a meeting, or simply around the workplace, mobile access to current visualizations allows you to make real-time, data-driven decisions.This can come in the form of a mobile app or a mobile optimized web portal for Internet-enabled devices. If it is necessary for a business executive or manager to access and even generate their own visualizations, then the software must have a clean, self-explanatory interface. The right type of training for your company will depend on the capabilities of your IT department and your other users. Speed of deployment is usually quicker for data visualization than for other BI tools, so current systems and security are more applicable factors to consider. Otherwise, if your data sources and BI solution are on-premise due to security or dependability concerns, then your visualization software likely should be on-premise as well. Like with any sensitive information, you must consider the security of your servers, the servers of any cloud-based provider, your workplace computers, and mobile devices when selecting a visualization solution. Eurac produces 100,000 tonnes of grey iron casting each year and operates machining facilities across the world, supplying vehicle manufacturers, the motor racing industry, and part distributors. Decisions were made quicker, and new insight allowed the company to peer three or four years into future production, all by giving managers efficient access to quality reports. Though these particular graphics are a little trippy for your average reader, such experimentation should yield sweet results for mainstream design.
If you’re a designer who has only been using Flash as a shell to hold content, push the envelope with some XML files powering your Flash graphics. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald. I feel silly putting this project so high on the list because it is so simple, but its simplicity is also part of why I like it so much. Planetary was a hit at launch, and it’s only a small sample of things to come I am sure.
Seems to me like the working definition is simply, an infographic is an especially entertaining data visualization. However, keep in mind the considerations listed below to ensure that the solution’s visualization tools will be sufficient.
It’s good to research your best options beforehand and identify which visualization types are likely to work best with your data. You may need to have a large, in-person training session for your business users, or you may need only some online reference materials for your already skilled IT personnel.
They can access the reports from their laptop, tablet, and mobile phone, in the workplace or out.
It’s not often that we get to see how geographic regions are unique at such a personal level. Mark Hansen, Jer Thorp, and Jake Porway, as parts of the New York Times R&D Lab created Project Cascade to visualize how people share New York Times Stories.
Producing interactive visuals that complements a business intelligence report is what the best data visualization software specialize in. No longer do they have to wait for weeks to see progress reports and to make changes to the reports they receive.

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