Episode 32: How to Add Impact & Inform Your Reader by Handing Over the Power - Featured Data Visualization by Ludovic Tavernier

Welcome to episode 32 of Data Viz Today. How can you add interaction to make your story more impactful and memorable? In this episode, host Alli Torban explores specific interaction techniques that you can try in your visualizations to more effectively inform your reader. Featured data visualization project by Ludovic Tavernier perfectly shows how handing over the power to your reader can create an engaging experience.

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

  • Welcome! I'm Alli Torban.

  • 00:21 - Today’s episode is all about giving your reader ways to interact with your visualizations so that your story is more impactful and memorable.

  • 00:30 - In this episode, we’ll talk about the visualization that inspired this, how it was built, and 3 specific interaction techniques that you can try in your visualizations to more effectively inform and teach your reader.

  • 00:45 - First I have a quick announcement - many of you have asked me for resources on how to get started making visualizations in Adobe Illustrator, so I finally made my own resource! I just launched a new course called Design Your First Visualization in Adobe Illustrator in under 30 minutes, which has 6 short videos that walk you through everything you need to know to start creating and customizing charts in there. This is basically the course that I would have wanted to take a year ago when I started learning - after hearing almost everyone that I interviewed say they used Illustrator for design and annotations. So I’m excited to provide this shortcut to you now. you can enroll at dataviztoday.com/courses and use the coupon code PODCAST for 25% off until October 10th.

  • 01:35 - Today’s featured data viz is called “The Amazing Letter E” by Ludovic Tavernier. Ludovic is the Data Visualization Lead of Valoway, a french consultancy firm that specializes in the data sector. He recently won the first feeder competition of the Tableau Iron Viz Contest with this visualization that I’m featuring today.

  • 01:55 - This is actually the second featured viz that came out of an Iron Viz competition  - the first one was in episode 25.

  • 02:50 - He studied past winners and saw that he needed to really focus on 3 elements that are really important to the judges: analysis, storytelling, design.

  • 03:13 - He finally settled on telling the story about the letter E.

  • 03:30 - Then he began sketching how he’d lay out this story in his viz. He also wanted to add a mix of simple and complex charts. Some basic charts to reassure most readers, and some complex ones to engage the experienced readers.

  • 04:04 - When he had sketched out the sections of his viz and chose his chart types, he started creating it in Tableau. The data he used was text from various books around the web. I was surprised to learn that his data table has 10 rows and 4 columns (title, author, year and excerpts). Then he let Tableau to do all the hard work with formulas. For example, he took the excerpt from the book and had tableau divide it into letters and then added calculations to add up the frequencies of the letter E in each one.  

  • 04:52 - And the beautiful thing about Tableau Public and the Tableau community, is that most people make their dashboards downloadable, which Ludovic did, so you can download the actual Tableau file and dig into how he did it so you can recreate it too.

  • 08:09 - So the Tableau wizardy aside, I think the true genius in Ludovic’s viz was that he told the story of the letter E by giving us, the reader, the power to control the story, which to me, has 3 big benefits.

  • 08:25 - The first instance, where Ludovic lets you slide the bar to reveal the line chart so you can see the letter E’s frequency stabilize around 33%, that gave me the power to reveal the chart at my own pace and it almost made me feel like I was drawing the chart, which makes it more memorable.

  • 08:53 - The second example where Ludovic lets you choose a book from his bookshelf to explore or when he lets you enter your own text at the end, that gives you the power to choose what you’re most curious about. And when you let someone explore, guided by their own curiosity, they’re more engaged and have a more memorable experience, like we talked about in Episode 6.

  • 09:20 - The third example is when Ludovic lets you walk through building his complex circular connection yarn-ball viz, word by word. He took a complex viz and gave me the control to build it slowly so I could understand it at my own pace. Everyone learns at a different pace, and letting me walk through it allows me to truly understand what’s going on and appreciate the viz that much more.

  • 10:00 - My final takeaway is that you can really engage your reader and teach them something they’ll remember by giving them control over the narrative.

    • You can do this by allowing them to reveal or draw a chart themselves,

    • give them a choice of the example they explore, or

    • allow them to walk through and build up a complex viz at their own pace.

  • 10:18 - Benjamin Franklin said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

  • 10:27 - Think about how you can add interaction so you can add impact & inform your reader.

  • 10:35 - Ludovic’s advice to designers just starting out: “Just practice, don’t be afraid to show your work. We all start from somewhere!”

  • 10:46 - You can follow him on twitter @ltavernier7

  • 10:55 - And don’t forget to use coupon code PODCAST by October 10th in order to get 25% off of my Adobe Illustrator course!