I'm a big fan of infographics done right. We all have seen some pretty cheesy ones in various magazines and newspapers that make us as designers cringe. I remember while in school, we had the opportunity to attend a lecture by the master of infographics, Edward Tufte. In his book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information helped shape my design class' approach to infographics design. In chapter 5, he talks about what he has termed as chartjunk. Chartjunk is defined as all visual elements in a chart or graph that is not necessary to comprehend the information represented or that distracts the viewer from the information.
Here's an example of chartjunk:
(image credit: Stephen Few, Tracking the Trends, Common Mistakes in Data Presentation, intelligent enterprise, August 7, 2004. Retrieved at: Oct 11, 2005.)
While I probably don't need to go over in detail why this is considered chartjunk, suffice it to say that information presented poorly can cause the data to be misrepresented and can lead to confusion by the viewer. Imagine medical data misrepresented. It could lead to someone's death.
So all of that leads up to what I wanted you all to see about the recent presidential election. I have always said that I believe most of the U.S. is really purple, a good mix of red and blue. Well, Fast Company magazine's online design magazine called FastCoDesign, has an article about just that. They have a graphic slideshow that shows what the voting results look like when you break it down by county. And guess what, America is purple. Now this is a chart done right. The use of color directly relates to Democrat and Repuplican votes by county. Their proximaty to each other show how the red and blue so close together create purple. What I also find interesting is how sparsly populated parts of the coutnry still are. All of the information presented gives you pertenent information. There is no chartjunk. Just a beautiful presented 'visiual display of quantitative information'. Yes, I know. Design Nerd. But I'm a proud one.
Want to see the rest of the article and some additonal details charts? Read more...
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