Data visualization, once a relatively obscure field, has now risen to ubiquity in the realms of Business Intelligence and data journalism. All those infographics you see? Data visualization in action. And there are plenty of ways to present insights effectively and beautifully and tons of blogs creating and analyzing visualizations every day. Turn to these sites for inspiration, key information, or just some cool facts!
Run by: Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
Website link: StorytellingWithData.com
Data visualization exists, in large part, to help create a compelling narrative. Best known for her book of the same name, Storytelling With Data’s Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic takes a deep, storytelling-based approach to data visualization. She engages the site’s regular users wit monthly visualization challenges, and offers critiques and tutorials to move her community further toward mastery.
Use the #SWDchallenge hashtag on Twitter to view all the latest challenge participants and check out Knaflic’s roundup of the submitted graphs at the end of each challenge.
Run by: David McCandless
Website link: InformationIsBeautiful.net
Rather than limit data to dull functionality, Information is Beautiful’s David McCandless uses his blog to present bespoke projects with a bright, minimalist design palette. For McCandless, current events and tasty trivia tidbits alike are opportunities to showcase creative data visualization projects.
Highly accessible subjects and a clean, simple design make data visualizations like the Best in Show dog data chart one of McCandless’ most beloved visualizations. It’s a great example of the symbiotic relationship between data and design: Colors, shapes, and sizes convey a host of information without taking much space nor overwhelming the reader.
3. Flowing Data
Run by: Nathan Yau
Website link: FlowingData.com
Flowing Data explores our understanding of data and how it affects us in everyday life. The blog’s founder, statistician Nathan Yau, renders data visualization lingual: an ongoing conversation between subject and creator.
Billed as the “results of a restless mind late at night,” Yau’s most compelling projects yield brilliant visualizations from relatively mundane, even random, information. Have you ever considered how your career path might impact your choice of romantic partner? No? Well, here’s a demonstration of predictive matchmaking based on occupational data. For the economist/fast-foodie, one map charts Subway’s growing domination of the US sandwich market. And if hoagies aren’t your speed, Flowing Data has your pizza, burger, and coffee cravings covered with similar vigor. Curiosity, rather than conformity is Flowing Data’s raison d’etre.
Run by: Andy Kirk
Website link: VisualisingData.com
Founder and managing editor Andy Kirk has created Visualising Data an an encyclopedia for the data visualization world, complete with resources, examples, discussion forums, and even a friendly community of industry professionals. Fittingly, data visualization is built into the site’s design, with the homepage featuring a delightful bubble display highlighting popular posts.
Beyond the compelling one-off content, Visualising Data’s recurring posts also stand out:
- Best of data visualization: Monthly posts featuring the best data visualization content, and a twice-yearly review of the most significant developments in data visualization.
- Articles: Published twice a month, articles discuss visualization design and often include interviews with data visualization professionals.
- The little of visualization design: These articles focus on the small distinct design choices that significantly affect visualization.
5. Junk Charts
Run by: Kaiser Fung
Website link: JunkCharts.typepad.com
Junk Charts dissects the inadequacies of various data visualizations and offers detailed constructive criticisms and technique breakdowns. From sketchy data sources to problematic color palettes and misapplied graph types, author Kaiser Fung discusses what doesn’t work and, importantly, how it could be done better.
At the end of each critique, Fung offers a suitable replacement for the data graphic, helpfully incorporating his suggestions so readers can see what best practices look like in practice. While posts appear multiple times weekly, Pi Day (March 14) gets special attention every year when Fung and a colleague hunt down one unlucky graph to sacrifice towards the #onelesspie campaign against pie chart proliferation.
6. The Pudding
Run by: Matt Daniels
Website link: Pudding.cool
The Pudding produces creative, interaction-focused visual essays. By combining data journalism, visualization, and web engineering, The Pudding takes an experimental and highly custom approach to visualizing cultural discussions. This is a great website to peek at how the boundaries of web-based data visualization are being stretched and played with.
The journalist-engineers of The Pudding also document their own tools and methods in a growing series of How To articles for everyone to learn from. The posts are accessible, fun, and don’t shy away from the nitty-gritty code.
7. The Atlas
Run by: Quartz Media
Website link: TheAtlas.com
Less of a blog and more of a repository, The Atlas is a hub for all of Quartz’s interesting charts and graphs—with a distinctly simple, searchable, and mobile-friendly focus. You won’t find complex data visualizations, instead you’ll find restrained and pointed visualizations that investigate a single point of interest. If a huge and complex dashboard is a book, then an Atlas visualization is a carefully worded paragraph. These are visualizations that are intended to slot into Quartz’s online articles and are easy to embed into any website.
Of interest, The Atlas provides downloadable data for most visualizations and includes embed stats, which allows you to track where each visualization has been embedded and used elsewhere on the internet.
Run by: The Economist
Website link: Graphic Detail
Want to see the world through The Economist’s eyes? Graphic Detail is the award-winning magazine’s data visualization blog. Every week day, you’ll find an insightful new chart, map, or infographic that delves into the macro and micro mechanisms shaping global events. Each visualization comes with a quick written analysis that includes detail about the datasource used
If you’re interested in politics, economics, or just want inspiration or a few extra talking points at happy hour, the Graphic Detail offers a daily destination.
Government websites might not be the most obvious pick, and aren’t strictly blogs — plus, “Federal bureaucracy” and “hip, useful data visualization” aren’t exactly synonymous. That said, the US Census Bureau and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are such data visualization nuts that their .gov sites both boast extensive subsections on the topic with regular updates.
The Census site is especially handy. Updated weekly, the department’s data visualization gallery features an absolute trove of demographic information. But don’t resign yourself to historical population trends and totals, there’s an expansion in the works that would include household and family dynamics, migration and geographic mobility, and economic indicators. If you’re interested in digging deeper, you can check out the Census source data, view Census survey information, and explore an API. Similarly, FEMA’s dedicated section is loaded with interactive and comprehensive graphics detailing everything from declarations of emergency and fire incidents to disaster housing assistance and historical flood data.
10. Tableau Blog
Run by: Tableau
Website link: Tableau.com/blog
Well, we weren’t NOT going to include our own blog, right? Besides providing insight into our constantly updated product offerings and company culture, the Tableau blog hosts a wealth of examples, inspiration, tips & tricks, community highlights, and stories about the social impact of data. Be sure to catch the weekly “Best of the Tableau Web” column for Tableau-specific data visualizations, tips, and stories.
Honorable mention: FiveThirtyEight
While ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight is not a blog, and doesn’t exclusively post data visualizations, it’s worth highlighting on this list. FiveThirtyEight is a data journalism outlet that produces visualizations, interactive visual models, and consistently posts detailed dataset documentation on Github. Of particular note are the interactive political visualizations, which covers things like modeling the 2016 US election data and aggregating presidential approval ratings.
Honorable mention: Viz.WTF and r/DataIsUgly
If there are good and great data visualizations, that means there are bad and worse visualizations too. Viz.WTF and the Reddit community r/DataIsUgly are lighthearted collections of the wackiest abuses, misuses, and not-quite-best-practice data visualizations that exist out on the internet. From mis-sized bar charts to pie charts that don’t add up to 100%, these are the best of the worst and are a fun way to waste some time while your data extracts. Unlike Junk Charts (above), however, these two are more focused on getting laughs than offering constructive criticism.