Posts tagged bee swarm plot
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. 

Episode 04: How to Find Answers in Survey Results - Featured Viz by Shirley Wu
Shirley Wu. Image via  LinkedIn .

Shirley Wu. Image via LinkedIn.


Welcome to episode 4 of Data Viz Today. How can you pull answers from and visualization survey results? I share Shirley Wu's data viz where she visualized the results of a survey of 981 data viz creators' frustrations. Her analysis and visualization provide insights on how to find answers in survey results.

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

"655 Frustrations Doing Data Viz" by Shirley Wu. Image via  Medium .

"655 Frustrations Doing Data Viz" by Shirley Wu. Image via Medium.

  • Welcome! I'm Alli Torban.

  • 00:30 - I’ll be creating my own project to share each week that’s inspired by the featured viz. Try it with me! #InspiredByDVT

  • 00:45 - Because of this, I’ll be switching to releasing episodes once a week - every Tuesday.

  • 01:00 - Featured viz by Shirley Wu “655 Frustrations Doing Data Viz”.

  • 01:15 - Inspired by a Survey of data viz creators by Elijah Meeks to see why people were leaving the data viz field.

  • 01:45 - How can we find answers in survey results?

  • 02:00 - Shirley Wu is a freelance software engineer and data viz consultant based in San Francisco.

  • 02:15 - Shirley wanted to know what data viz creators’ frustrations are so the community can help keep them in the field.

  • 02:25 - Download the data here.

  • 02:30 - She separated the respondents into two groups: those who listed a frustration and those who didn’t.

  • 03:10 - Shirley’s creative process is to sketch, code, sketch, code, repeat.

  • 03:25 - Finally decided on a bee swarm plot and RJ Andrews suggested that she represent the respondents with frustrations dropping down the X-axis as if they’re crying.

  • 03:50 - Whenever you can tie the data back to the human story, it becomes more powerful.

  • 03:57 - For the final viz, she used d3.js, React and SVG - check it out on Medium and on her website.

  • 04:36 - Bee swarm plot tutorial in R by Nathan Yau.

  • 05:15 - Shirley created 12 of these plots and compared the results to find those who are that the most dissatisfied data visualization practitioners are ones who are:

    • On an embedded team,

    • Weren’t initially hired to work on data visualization,

    • Work on data visualization as only one of several tasks, and

    • Have a subordinate relationship with the stakeholder of their visualization

  • 05:50 - Community can help by educating people on how data viz can help organizations and keep creating tutorials.

  • 06:10 - Shirley’s advice when you hit the inevitable snags - create a viz about a dataset or question that you’re really passionate about. Being curious to see the final viz will keep you going through the frustrating times. Also try to take breaks and come back with fresh eyes.

  • 06:55 - What if you have to create a viz for something you’re not passionate or don’t have time for breaks? A study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science found people don’t suffer decision-fatigue as much when they’re making decisions for someone else because it’s more enjoyable to choose for another person. Another study by the same author revealed that people are also more creative when making decisions for other people rather than themselves. So next time you feel creatively stuck, think about someone whose work you admire - maybe someone with a strong point of view or style - and ask yourself - what would he or she do?

  • 07:50 - My 3 main takeaways:

    • If you’re trying to visualize survey results, it can be helpful to quantify the qualitative answers by grouping them in some way.

    • Try to visualize the distribution of the survey answers to two questions, and then add filters so you can see patterns in how people who are answering question 1 then answering question 2.

    • Try to incorporate a human/emotional element to your viz. It can connect people to your visualization and help them remember it.

  • 08:30 - My inspired viz:

"Novice Data Viz Creators Want More Open Community Discussions" By Alli Torban

"Novice Data Viz Creators Want More Open Community Discussions" By Alli Torban


  • 09:50 - Alluvial diagram on

  • 10:50 - My human element was to color the flows that hints at skin tones so it looked like arms reaching out for help.

  • 12:00 - Thanks to Shirley!

  • 12:20 - She’s excited to start using WebWorker to improve performance in the browser.

  • 12:25 - Check out Shirley’s website and her Twitter.

  • 12:37 - Next featured viz is by Guney Soykan called "Face of a Nation".

  • 12:50 - Subscribe to my weekly newsletter, which compiles the top tips from the week into a short email.
  • 12:58 - Nominate a data viz to be featured on the show.
  • 13:02 - Contact me on social media @dataviztoday!

New episodes are released every Tuesday at 6 AM EST.