Episode 06: How to Create an Engaging Data Viz - Featured Viz by Jim Vallandingham

Jim Vallandingham. Image via his  LinkedIn .

Jim Vallandingham. Image via his LinkedIn.


Welcome to episode 6 of Data Viz Today. What are some features that you can implement to make your visualizations more engaging? I share  Jim Vallandingham's data viz where he visualized how long it took people to draw over 50 million doodles for Google Quick Draw. This is a fun and engaging data viz, and we explore how you can create an engaging data viz too.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Google PodcastsStitcher, SoundCloud & Spotify.

“How Long Does it Take to (Quick) Draw a Dog?” by Jim Vallandingham. Image via his  website .

“How Long Does it Take to (Quick) Draw a Dog?” by Jim Vallandingham. Image via his website.

  • Welcome! I'm Alli Torban.

  • 00:22 - Today’s featured viz is “How Long Does it Take to (Quick) Draw a Dog?” by Jim Vallandingham

  • 00:45 - Google released the dataset behind its Quick Draw game for anyone to explore. Find it here.

  • 01:10 - Jim’s viz is very fun and engaging! Try it here.

  • 01:20 - Today’s question: How can we create an engaging data viz?

  • 01:25 - Jim is a data visualization and data science engineer based in Seattle

  • 01:40 - Jim’s question: how long does it take people to create these Quick Draw doodles? Data is here.

  • 02:15 - There was a huge amount of data so just managing all of the downloads and files was a challenge

  • 02:25 - He used R, Python and D3.js. His source code is all here.

  • 02:36 - Take a look at his final viz pictured on the right.

  • 03:03 - In this viz, he gave us a way to autonomously explore the data by allowing us to change what attribute was plotted in the swarm plot. He also showed examples of the doodles as you hovered over the category, which made it easy and interesting to explore and keep exploring.

  • 04:00 - Jim suggests finding an interesting dataset in the tinyletter “Data is Plural” to get started.

  • 04:30 - The dataset I chose for my inspired viz is called Hollywood Age Gap that looks at the age difference between romantic relationships in movies. Find it here.

  • 04:55 - What motivates people?

  • 05:10 - Book called Gamification at Work: Designing Engaging Business Software by Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger dives into motivation - specifically the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. People are more creative, productive, and engaged.

  • 06:05 - Daniel Pink’s book Drive and his TED Talk also expand on this idea.

  • 06:20 - He says in his book that to keep people engaged (from a software perspective), try these 3 things: Give your users autonomy, keep the system as open as possible, and create an environment where people feel good about participating.

  • 06:40 - First think about your audience. What interests them? Use a title that piques their interest.

  • 07:00 - Give them the ability to explore the dataset, and it helps if you can give them a tool to do that (like a dropdown menu they can manipulate).

  • 07:20 - Give them an extra layer/dimension of data to discover.

  • 08:00 - I used these tips to create my inspired viz. Do you find it engaging?

  • 08:45 - Tim Bock makes the argument to use shapes that people can identify with in nature to make your viz more engaging. Do you agree?

  • 10:00 - Connect with Jim on his website and twitter. His tutorial on using Altair.

  • 10:50 - Follow me on twitter!

  • 11:00 - Subscribe and never miss an episode. :)

New episodes are released every Tuesday at 6 AM EST.