Data Visualization


My buddy Laura Fitton pointed me to a terrific explanation of visualization techniques. The article is called “Data Visualization: Modern Approaches,” and it’s in Smashing Magazine.

The techniques and uses examined are mindmaps, displaying news, displaying data, displaying connections, displaying websites, articles & resources, and tools & services. This picture is an example from Time that the article used.

In ten years of watching entrepreneurs pitch their companies, I can recall maybe two companies using any of these techniques. Every other one either (a) used no graphics at all; (b) used a 2 x 2 matrix and guess what: they’re always in the upper right corner; or (c) used a matrix and guess what: they’re always the column with the most checked-off stuff.

If you like Smashing’s explanation of visualization techniques, you’ll probably also enjoy “45 Excellent Blog Designs.”

By | 2016-10-24T14:19:03+00:00 August 28th, 2007|Categories: Cool Stuff, Pitching and Presenting|Tags: |19 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Lance Winslow August 29, 2007 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Absolutely awesome stuff, not only for presentation, but to really allow folks to see what you are talking about while allowing you to understand the bigger picture so you know what you are talking about. Good call.

  2. Marc Duchesne August 29, 2007 at 1:53 am - Reply

    Guy : thanks for the heads up. As Lance wrote : awesome – maybe I should add : jaw-dropping 😉
    The applications are almost infinite, at least for open-minded people.
    For instance, since I discovered NewsMap [] a couple of months ago, I’m thinking of using it in the Telecoms Network Monitoring sector…

  3. FiberGeneration August 29, 2007 at 2:47 am - Reply

    Data Visualization For Open-Minds

    Thanks to Master Guy Kawazaki (and the Magic of the Blogosphere), I discovered the recently published article in Smashing Magazine : Data Visualization: Modern Approaches. For all of you manipulating data to be presented to end-users, customers, or man…

  4. Val August 29, 2007 at 3:06 am - Reply

    Thank you!

  5. Jean-Francois Noel August 29, 2007 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Great stuff, if you are into data visualization you must check out the work of Edward Tufte at His one day course is brilliant, I attended in San Francisco in July and it was worth it. If I have the chance of pitching you one day, I promise I’ll have a handout, Tufte style for you.

  6. Michael August 29, 2007 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Dead on target as always.
    We have started looking at techniques such as this to gain insight into our prospect market. Little graphs and bar charts just don’t cut it for really exploring your data.
    Visualizations such as these, especially combined with good GIS systems, can make all the difference in figuring out what is going on and where you should be targeting your efforts.

  7. Tai Chi August 29, 2007 at 10:11 am - Reply

    That’s very cool.
    I remember seeing shoemoney do something cool with Ebay Ads stuff using google maps, too.

  8. uno August 29, 2007 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Hi from Spain,
    So twitters and all those micronanoblog didn’kill designers. This other site is my favourite, the name says it all
    I’m a truefan of your workshow . Hope to see you one day in spain.
    It’s all good to see you respect the font size as said in the 10/20/30

  9. Bob Warfield August 29, 2007 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Great post!
    I love data visualization. I use a concept I call a “Mission Map” to get across the ideas behind my startup, SmoothSpan. A Mission Map is just a tag cloud that you’ve designed to show which big memes your company or products are focused around.
    More on my blog here:

  10. anthropocentric August 29, 2007 at 11:50 am - Reply

    Here’s a great blog that covers interesting data visualization topics:

  11. Probstisms August 29, 2007 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Interesting New Ways to Present Data

    My day job requires me to wear many different hats depending on the projects that are active at any point in time. One of my main responsibilities is report design and development using the latest and greatest version of Business Objects. Basically, …

  12. Don Jones August 29, 2007 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    This is great stuff. I have a database and would love to find an interesting and valuable way to communicate some of the information visually.

  13. Steven C. August 29, 2007 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    1) Thanks for the great article
    2) Happy bday!

  14. Bronwen August 29, 2007 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    The best data visialization I’ve seen has been ICCARUS from – a video recommendations site. The Scouta team created a 3D visulaization of its recommendations data based on the relationships between all its members and video and audio they rated highly.
    It can locate individual members in the Scouta database and visulaize their relationship to other members, groups they belong to videos and audio.
    There is a screencast that doesn’t quite do it jutice, but is worth looking at –
    or you can read more about it –

  15. Vaibhav August 30, 2007 at 12:36 am - Reply

    Thanks Guy for this wonderful article. Its always interesting to read your posts. Your articles i must say are always on target.
    Keep it going Guy.

  16. lessaid August 30, 2007 at 2:18 am - Reply

    Hi Guy, did you notice that you are in this web trend map ? :
    Just at the right corner of the 2.0’s Apple ?

  17. Rich Apodaca September 2, 2007 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Great find.
    Scientists also have a hard time presenting their data in a compelling visual way. I’ve sat through many presentations where table after mind-numbing table was presented. Part of the problem is lack of good examples to learn from, something this article goes a long way toward addressing.

  18. Dana September 13, 2007 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Guy, one very large problem with data visualization is the quality of the data being visualized. So many people treat nice, pretty, well formated data as fact. I have looked at lots of data from many companies over the years, including manufacturing part data, product design data, financial data, customer data, etc. and you know what? 40% 50% of the data is flat out wrong! Yet people are making business decisions on this data every day. Structuring data to ensure high quality is absolutely essential. The alternative scares me to death.

  19. Matthew Cornell October 27, 2007 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the pointer. It’s one of those areas that seems have tremendous potential, but we’re still using WIMP – – interfaces!
    Here’s a fun blog you might like: data visualization & visual design – information aesthetics

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