D&AD Data Visualisation Workshop
By Emily Stewart-Smith
Last month was the first D&AD Festival in Shoreditch, where they hosted 150 speakers at The Old Truman Brewery. 2016 also marked the addition of the Data Visualisation sub-category at the Awards. We were asked to put together a workshop to help encourage and promote design with data.
The workshop needed to appeal to students and professionals, so we wanted to create an experience that played with the idea of information design and started with the basics.
We had 2 hours to explain how data visualisation can help refresh and innovate communications in general, but particularly design: from the presentation of the brief, understanding the data, creating wireframes and finally producing a winning 3D data visualisation worthy of our own yellow pencil award (due to budget restraints we could only stretch to an HB pencil).
There was a great mix of participants: some were students unfamiliar with the sprint of a design agency, others were professional graphic designers wanting to understand some more about our particular discipline. Regardless of experience we wanted to ensure that the principles of data visualisation were covered and also that people went away having created something beautiful and useful from their data.
The group was split into 4 teams - each lead by one of our information designers - who gave a brief look into their work, how they digest data and the variety of ways you can consider representing data in the most engaging way.
We also wanted to explore:
How a group of people react when presented with data and what are the key factors they want to bring out of the dataset?
How resourceful will the teams be after their client feedback? The agency way of working needs to be flexible, and sometimes the best ideas come from reacting to a client constraint or curveball.
We allowed the teams to create their fantasy data set in answering their brief so that no idea was bound by the constraints of data collection or reality.
Briefs & Outcomes
EU Referendum: shine a light on the issues around the referendum and don’t forget to attract the politically disengaged.
Using the concept of ‘bar’ chart in a literal way, the team created a drinks bar chart. The final visualisation looked at the most common EU beers and how drinkers of those beers felt about Brexit: are Brewdog drinkers complacent? Does San Miguel make you want to abandon Europe?
US Elections: to help the voters understand the candidate’s conflicting interests. God bless America.
‘Top of the Crop’ showed the leading representatives in the elections as carrots. Were they healthy? Did they focus on homegrown crops or were they welcoming foreign trading? Their roots represented ethnic minorities and the reach each candidate has with these groups. Needless to say, Trump’s carrot representation was homegrown, without foreign leaves and virtually no minority roots.
Olympic Games 2016: with Rio around the corner, what can we take from past games.
Aptly names ‘Tea-mmmm Sports!’, the final visualisation explored the kinetic energy (kWh) exerted by athletes competing in running, swimming and jumping using cups of tea needed to replenish the athletes as the dataset.
Leftmove: a unique look into the current climate of the London housing market.
This piece explored whether living near to a chicken shop in London correlates to noise-levels, using chicken size to signal proximity and the comb on their heads to portray noise levels.
Following the wireframing phase, the teams got a visit from our Signal Noise designers playing the roles of the clients. With a blazer and tie on, the clients asked their agencies to reimagine their designs, restrict their colour palette and consider branding implications, which each team took on board in redrafting their designs.
The final stage was group presentations, where the teams explained their visualisations and votes were counted for the most imaginative/impressive idea.
Despite a very quick production time, some complex and very humorous visualisations were created - and everyone had a lot of fun.
See you at the next workshop!