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On #datavis judging: Leonora Merry’s advice

Left vs. Right (US)

Round 3 of the On Think Tanks Data Visualisation Competition is currently open for submissions. We’ve had some great entries in both Round 1 and Round 2, but this is the last open call for entries (the deadline is 20 November at 23:59 GMT!)!

The judges want it to be the biggest and the best round we’ve had so far so each of them has taken a minute to offer their advice when it comes to data visualisation — what works, what doesn’t, and what are they really looking for when judging the data visualisations. We’ll be posting their thoughts over the next couple of weeks.

Leonora MerryLeonora Merry, Social Market Foundation


In your opinion, what makes a good data visualisation?
A good data visualisation needs to be beautiful, fun and interesting. It should use the aesthetics to grab your attention, and the content to tempt you in further. There should be a clear story or idea that it is trying to convey and it should do no more than tell you that story in an intuitive way.

What are your data visualisation pet peeves?
Trying to present too much information, getting carried away with the concept and cramming too much in there, not explaining concepts and ideas properly, over-engineering it!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone staring down a spreadsheet full of data and who is interested in making it more accessible?
Decide on your audience, and ask yourself – if they could understand one thing about this data, what would it be?

Do you have a favourite data visualisation from outside the competition? What is it and why?
Hard question – I love the static visuals in Information is Beautiful, especially the left/right one. Maybe it’s the wonk in me! I also like interactive ones like the British Social Attitudes Survey data sets done by Soapbox.

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