When I started to learn about visualization, I had little knowledge about what contributes to a good data visualization. I just tried different things and got feedback about what works and why. This way I iterated and gradually improved visualizations over time.
Only a couple of years later, I learned about visualization principles and how to apply them. This helped me to start off with better sketches at the start and iterate much faster to a good visualization as I know what to look out for and where to point the reviewers. However, the feedback loop still contributes significantly to improving the visualization and to my own knowledge about visualization.
You can get such feedback from visualization experts for free! Unbelievable, but true. The visualization community generously shares the knowledge and understands that giving and receiving feedback together with excellent discussions about visualizations helps everybody to improve their visualization skills.
Here, I’d like to highlight 3 opportunities for you to improve your visualization skills by participating in these community review projects. These are
- Tidy Tuesday
- Wonderful Wednesday
All of them work in about the same way. The organizers of the reviews provide data for the community to visualize and then ask for the results. The experts and others critique the resulting figures and point out strengths and limitations of the data visualization. They might also suggest alternative approaches or ways to improve the visualization. As these suggestions depend on the audience, the circumstances and the key message to be communicated, different designs might be preferred.
Sometimes, vivid discussions occur about what’s a better approach. These discussions help the audience as well as the participants to understand the reasoning behind the design choices and thus lead to more informed decisions for the next visualization project.
All of these projects also work on galleries of former visualizations and Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray even wrote a book about their experiences and the contributions from the community.
Beyond your benefits in terms of learning about data visualization, you will also create a personal gallery of visualizations for yourself. These will serve you when you apply for a new position in which data visualization skills are demanded.
Find these projects at:
Have fun and learn!