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Designing Data Visualizations Paperback – 2 Oct 2011

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 114 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (2 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449312284
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449312282
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 0.6 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 843,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Book Description

Intentional Communication from Data to Display

About the Author

Noah Illinsky has spent the last several years thinking about effective approaches to creating diagrams and other types of information visualization. He also works in interface and interaction design, all from a functional and user-centered perspective. Before becoming a designer he was a programmer for several years. He has a master's in Technical Communication from the University of Washington, and a bachelor's in Physics from Reed College.

Julie Steele is an Editor at O'Reilly currently working on titles related to Python, SQL, PHP, web frameworks and CMS, databases (relational and non-relational), big data and cloud computing, and data visualization. She's also interested in data transparency and open government, and recently completed a master's degree in political science at Rutgers University.

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I understand that data visualization is a hot topic at the moment. So it is not surprising that publishers cannot wait to capitalize on this attention. However, while many recent books on visualization seem to have been hastily written, I found this one especially disappointing.

For example:

Contrary to their own advice ("Are you using color to represent quantity? Stop it.", p. 92), the authors reserve considerable space for discussing color. That's weird, but what is even weirder is that some of these discussions are illustrated with color scales and samples -- which are actually printed in grey scales! Having read the book, I can understand why the publishers may not have wanted to invest more in the manuscript than necessary. But that does not make it less problematic.

More importantly for me, I got increasingly annoyed by the verbosity and use of boilerplate language. Take this "tip" from page 49: "Consider the following challenge. For every visualization you see, ask yourself these two questions: Are the axes all well defined? Are they used effectively? Unfortunately, the answer to these is often 'no'. Better use of axes will be the first step to improvement." Yes, this all makes sense, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to have their axes "well defined" and "used effectively"? So how can I do this? Ah, right, I am supposed to start with "better use of axes". Thank you, question answered.

This may come across as sarcastic, but this is the style that much of the book is written in. This is somewhat ironic. The authors talk a lot about how crucial it is for designers of visualizations to reduce the noise and focus on the story or message. However, they do not seem to have applied the same principles to their own text.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good book overall and an excellent introduction to the data visualization domain. A must have for everyone who plans to design visualizations of any kind.

- Easy to read
- Good examples
- Contains a good reading list

- Black and white where colored figures were intended
- Could be more referenced
- A bit short and
- Does not include any interactive features
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Format: Paperback
The book is an introduction to creating visualizations to express data, information or other findings. It introduces the concepts, explains why you might use visualizations and then explains some of the good and bad techniques.

It's a very relevant book to many as we strive to communicate the growing amount of data we are capturing. The book introduces the many different types of data visualisations including info-graphics and the use of charts, tables, graphs etc. The authors spend a lot of time explaining the reasons behind the visualizations which is very important, but often overlooked in other books. There is lots of information about colors, fonts, audiences and purposes and the channels used.

The authors support each piece of information with examples and external references, which adds lots of credibility to their arguments. There are some really insightful ideas and a lot of examples of good and bad visualizations which help make each point easier to understand.

It's great that the authors spend time talking about color blindness and the psychology behind colors, locations, shapes and proximity. I found this chapter incredibly useful indeed.

At times it felt like the book repeated itself, especially in the first few chapters. I got the sense I was reading the same information again, but thankfully the later chapters made the content more distinct.

Overall this is an easy to read and fun book that gives you the background, insight and tool ideas needed for you to get cracking with building visuals. It's a good book for dipping in and out of to get inspiration and ideas on visualizing data.

Very good book indeed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9395918c) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93792bd0) out of 5 stars O'Reilly ruined this book 17 Oct. 2011
By hardcoreUFO - Published on
Format: Paperback
The goals of this volume are completely undermined by the publisher's choice to print greyscale figures. Entire sections on color and color selection are rendered useless because of this. There is no excuse, in 2011, to print a data visualization book (or any other book, for that matter) in greyscale and B&W. O'Reilly should know better.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93792c24) out of 5 stars Too bad ... 15 Dec. 2011
By JYB - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am very disappointed by this book.
It deals with graphics and design, including colors ... but it is printed in black and white!
Very useful to judge the "good" or "wrong" color of any logo or diagram (p. 36) ...
In addition, the print quality is poor: some diagrams are illegible (p. 44, 46).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93794078) out of 5 stars Nice introduction to data visualization 24 Nov. 2011
By Ivo Flipse - Published on
Format: Paperback
As the book mentions: "It is a set of steps and rules to follow that will get you 80% of the way to turning out great work."

The book does a decent job of giving you a clear overview of the basics of good data visualizations. It also helps bring across the message that you should think about why you're designing it and urge you to focus on that.

If you haven't read any books about Data Visualizations then this book is a great introductory tour. If you've already delved deeper into the subject, then the book might not hold much news for you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93794444) out of 5 stars A fine introduction 29 Mar. 2012
By Karl S. - Published on
Format: Paperback
Illinksy's Designing Data Visualizations is a fine introduction to the field. Most valuable is his description of the different stakeholders in this field of design, their needs, and how to approach the process data visualization design for each data / user scenario. The usual suspects --- color, shape, and the requisite destruction of the pie chart --- all appear, as well. Overall, this book is a perfect introduction for the amateur designer and sound review for others.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93794528) out of 5 stars Good, quick overview 28 Dec. 2012
By fish - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well-done principles of data-viz - probably better on the Kindle so you can see the color illustrations. A great resource to go along with other how-to books such as Nathan Yao's "Visualize This."
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