Episode 19: [Mini] How to See Your Data Viz With Fresh Eyes

Photo by  Bud Helisson  on  Unsplash

Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash


Welcome to episode 19 of Data Viz Today. How can you see your data viz with fresh eyes? Host Alli Torban dives into specific ways you can view your work from a new perspective when you're short on time!

  • Welcome! I'm Alli Torban.

  • 00:45 - This week’s mini-episode is about how you can hack the “fresh-eyes effect” and see your data viz from a new perspective immediately!

  • 01:25 - I put together a list of 5 of my favorite ways to quickly see your data viz from a new perspective. Here we go.

    1. Read it out loud. Read your title and accompanying text or annotations out loud. When you pull it outside of your head, the main message of your viz can feel different. Or, even better, record yourself reading it and then play it back with your eyes closed - and focus on what your words are making you envision.

    2. Print it out. You can print out your viz in a few slightly altered ways to give yourself a new perspective. Like, you can print it in black and white, or print it on a smaller scale. Then you can do other things with it like hold it up to a mirror or turn it upside down. Think about what stands out to you in your viz when looking at it in these different ways?

    3. Change your scenery. Try to re-read your assignment or goal and then grab your print out and look it over while you’re walking or ideally outside. Changing your physical location can help get you out of all the minutiae of designing your viz and help you see it from the perspective of someone who’s looking to learn something. Think about whether you’re clearly communicating your main point and desired action?

    4. Imagine the best compliment. Think about the moment you send your viz to your client or boss. What is the most meaningful compliment you could receive about your viz? Are you hoping to hear something like “this viz is so engaging!” or “wow, we really need to take action” or “this is beautifully designed” - think about the compliment you’d want to receive the most, and that can help you re-frame how you’re seeing your viz. Ask yourself if your viz offers enough to be complimented in that specific way.

    5. Pretend to start over. Imagine that you just lost all of your work and you need to quickly recreate the viz in one sketch. You can think about your specific assignment or goal again, and then sketch out on a piece of paper a viz that solves that problem. I find that I sometimes go in a particular direction when creating a viz for whatever reason, and with this exercise, I get the chance to re-make the decisions that I made at the beginning, which can help alert me to problems or give me a new idea. So try to recreate your viz with a quick sketch with your final goal in mind, and notice if you’re drawn to creating anything differently.

    6. BONUS tip: Ask someone else. This one is obvious but worth mentioning - you can try to use someone else’s fresh eyes - give it to someone else and let them look at it for an appropriate amount of time (like if your goal is for someone to understand something quickly, then give them a handful of seconds, but if your viz is meant to be more exploratory, give them more time), and then ask them what they took away from the viz. If they seemed to miss the mark, maybe there’s something you could change to help.

  • 04:50 - My final takeaway is that real, true fresh eyes are the best way to give you some perspective on your data viz, but if you’re short on time, there are a few ways to hack it - you can read it out loud, print it out, change your scenery, think about your most desired compliment, or sketch out a redo.

  • 05:30 - Nominate a data viz to be featured on the show!

  • P.S. Get mapping right away with my free-mini course “Make Your First Custom Map in Under 30 Minutes”.