15 Stunning Examples of Data Visualization

By / Aug 12, 2009 / Inspiration
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Data Visualization is a method of presenting information in a graphical form. Good data visualization should appear as if it is a work of art. This intrigues the viewer and draws them in so that they can further investigate the data and info that the graphic represents. In this post there are 15 stunning examples of Data Visualization that are true works of art.

Click on the title or image for a larger view of each visualization.

The Strengths of Nations

Data Visualization

Here’s an image that discusses the variations in how different nations pursue science.

Madrid.Citymurmur

Data Visualization

CityMurmur tries to understand and visualize how media attention reshapes the urban space and city.

Genome

Data Visualization

Jules & Jim

Data Visualization

This visual represents the relationship between characters in the movie Jules & Jim.

One Week of the Guardian

Data Visualization

This is one day in a series that takes the news from one week of the Guardian newspaper, and visually represents it as a series of static visualisations.

One Week of the Guardian

Data Visualization

Country Continent GDP Population Radial Convergence

Data Visualization

Leisure & Poverty

Data Visualization

Stock Data

Data Visualization

This image shows historical stock price data plotted as 3D graphs.

NYTimes Threads – Russian Presidents

Data Visualization

Food & Poverty

Data Visualization

Housing & Poverty

Data Visualization

Visualizing the Guardian: Beckham and Rooney

Data Visualization

This is a timepiece visualization of the mentions of David Beckham and Wayne Rooney in Guardian stories between 1999 and 2008.

3 Month Crocheting

Data Visualization

Design Research Maps

Data Visualization

About the Author

Henry Jones is a web developer, designer, and entrepreneur with over 14 years of experience. He is the founder of WDL and ThemeTrust.

54 Comments

  1. tutorialslounge
    August 12, 2009

    really creative and such a great idea for performance graphing.

    Reply
  2. indigo
    August 12, 2009

    Awesome collection

    Reply
    • Finn Fitzsimons
      June 2, 2011

      Have you seen numberpicture.com? Its a site that visualizes data into static images – but the way it visualizes it (ie the shape and form of the charts can be created by users of the site) and then these can be used for free by others. It makes the data look so pretty I find! Pure awesomeness…

      Reply
  3. Tocki
    August 12, 2009

    nice collection! But the first two links seem to be broken.

    Reply
  4. Jeff Johnson
    August 12, 2009

    These are, to be sure, visually stunning examples of data visualization. But I’m not sure that they are stunning examples of _effective_ visualization. I really have no idea what knowledge these images convey. Good visualization, as I try to practice it, transforms raw data into conclusions. In many of these cases, the visualization not only turns data into confusion, it obscures the data itself. Perhaps it is just that the context is missing, but even there one must remember that readers will often skip over the copy to look at the pictures, so you can’t count on context to make sense out of an image.

    Reply
  5. Sarah
    August 12, 2009

    Very cool from a distance, like a Kandinsky painting… but like Jeff, I would not dare try to understand them.

    Reply
  6. Brian Swichkow
    August 12, 2009

    It seems like the more information that needs to be in the image, the more creative they have to be. At the same time there is so much information and detail these things would have to be printed in a HUGE size.

    Reply
  7. caroline
    August 12, 2009

    I love the overlap of art and science here. I’ve never been entirely sure the practical purpose of these (although as someone mentioned, perhaps in context it is more obvious). But I’m really fascinated with them.

    Reply
  8. Don Funk
    August 12, 2009

    Nice post! Nitpick:

    Gaurdian => Guardian

    Thanks!

    Reply
  9. BebopDesigner
    August 12, 2009

    Wow these are brilliant! I have no idea how to interpret any of the info, but it is really eye catching. Specially love Leisure & Poverty, and Housing & Poverty ones. I’m very intrigued on how they come up with the design and usability (or readability?). The designing process of one of these would be a really really interesting thing to find out. Thanks for posting.

    Reply
  10. webadelic
    August 12, 2009

    those really are stunning.

    Reply
  11. RPoulin
    August 12, 2009

    Data visualization is about understanding quickly what a lot of data says about a certain situation or issue. They should serve as a shortcut for your brain. Most of these images fail to achieve this basic goal. I’ve made an honest effort to understand a few of them.

    Just like an ultra-modern kitchen without storage space, it looks great until you try to use it.

    Reply
  12. Lucas Tadeu
    August 12, 2009

    Very nice collection. All of these works are really creative.Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reply
  13. Sean
    August 12, 2009

    I’ve seen a few of these before, but WOW this collection has blown my mind!

    Reply
  14. Kevin
    August 12, 2009

    It’s amazing how boring data can become something this beautiful…

    Reply
  15. Geovane Rodrigues
    August 12, 2009

    The examples of graphics is fantastic!
    Nice collection.

    Reply
  16. Peter
    August 12, 2009

    Great representations of boring data.

    Reply
  17. Joel Pitt
    August 12, 2009

    Looks cool, but I’ve got to agree with the above comments. In most of these, the actual data itself is obfuscated by the prettiness rather than being made easier to understand.

    Reply
  18. theaizusnapbox
    August 13, 2009

    awesome design, but I will not try to understand the context that is trying to be conveyed…

    Reply
  19. Paul Datta
    August 14, 2009

    This is an amazing collection. Id like to see them at a higher resolution so I can see them in greater detail. Blown away!

    Reply
  20. Alexander Bickov
    August 14, 2009

    Great abstract arts

    Reply
  21. King Tut
    August 14, 2009

    “The actual data itself is obfuscated by the prettiness rather than being made easier to understand.”

    Thanks, Joel. I am keeping this phrase as the simplest way of summarizing what I feel seeing this kind of graphics (in this and other situations).

    In spite of their visual allure, most of them are more eye-candy than real awesome design. Design is about use and communication, not just about prettiness.

    Reply
  22. Tim Read
    August 14, 2009

    Very nice – you need to go to the original sources to understand them: just follow the links. I like the Strengths of Nations one. Is surprising how the USA is more strong in social sciences and health, yet they produce incredible tech.

    Reply
  23. Luke
    August 14, 2009

    Great visual effects, thanks for sharing

    Reply
  24. iPhone App Developer
    August 15, 2009

    Some spectacularly clever and beautiful visualisations – thank you.

    Reply
  25. Maxime Perron Caissy
    August 15, 2009

    Nice collection of art data visualization. I really like their designs, but I’m really not convinced of their effectiveness.

    Reply
  26. Ben
    August 16, 2009

    Thanks for this beautiful collection!

    Reply
  27. Nardyello
    August 17, 2009

    Stunning indeed. I wonder what/who each point/line/curve represents. Would like to see how effective they are.

    The Stock graph is quite intriguing. The “explosion” effect of the red/pink color could possibly symbolize a peak in the price of a particular stock. Meaning if a stock is “exploding”, go buy it because you will make a lot of money =]

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  28. Dave Sparks
    August 17, 2009

    Who would have thought data could have looked so good!?

    Reply
  29. Tomas
    August 17, 2009

    If you want to see another nice visualization look at http://www.sociomap.com. It is maybe not so artistic but very comprehensive.

    Reply
  30. Luca Masud
    August 18, 2009

    Visualizations can be developed for different purposes. Sometimes, even if “the public” isn’t able to read it, it doesn’t mean that it’s a useless visualization. Maybe it was just used to understand something (some data, a system) by its creator. Its aim isn’t being published or communicate data.

    Reply
  31. jaime
    August 19, 2009

    Although I agree that these are beautiful, isn’t the point of graphically representing information to take complex info and lay it out in a way that can be easily understood via a visual format? If so, then I don’t believe these are truly “good visual design”. Food for thought.

    Reply
  32. Dan LaRouche
    August 20, 2009

    I am with Jeff (…transform raw data into conclusions). I turnaround companies. I typically use existing performance information to provide new insight into what is reality. I gain trust when I present a simple graph that results in an owner saying “wow, I had no idea…”. These are beautiful works of art but for my clients, they would only add to the level of frustration and confusion that has resulted from over complicated management systems.

    Reply
  33. Michael
    August 20, 2009

    This one is good and not listed:

    http://personas.media.mit.edu/personasWeb

    Reply
  34. james
    August 21, 2009

    Great collection of resources though i days back i found something very interesting almost the similar on some other website.

    Reply
  35. Noantsinmypants
    August 22, 2009

    here is another interesting graphic not listed.

    http://www.jeremywisecup.com/images/worksmade/AMC_full.jpg

    Reply
  36. matt
    August 27, 2009

    Are there special apps that are used to create half this stuff? I realise illustrator must play a big part.. but seriously who is going to sit there and draw all the lines in something like: Country “Continent GDP Population Radial Convergence” and “NYTimes Threads – Russian Presidents”?

    Would love to know… thanks!

    Reply
  37. cristy
    August 27, 2009

    Check out http://www.tableausoftware.com. I’ve seen some really amazing things designed with there desktop software.

    Reply
  38. stefan
    September 9, 2009

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrreat collection!

    Is there a way to get the images in big size format? I’d love to print some of them out and hang them in my office :)

    Reply
  39. phil
    September 11, 2009

    nice one guys.

    Reply
  40. Benjamin
    October 28, 2009

    As a “designer,” I would have to say at first I was delighted when I found this blog.

    Then, I got really angry!

    None of these images can be downloaded at a resolution where the text can actually be read! My guess is that this isn’t an accident, but reflects a specific form of brain damage specific to “designers” that content is more or ess irrelevant, that what counts is “stunning” graphics.

    Well, no, actually something whie is graphicaly “stunning” but fails to communicate information clearly and understandably is in fact WORTH LESS than an excel pie chart. Sorry!

    FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.

    It would be great to be able to analyze whether these designers were actually communicating something effectively or just making pretty pictures. Sorrythis rant is more directed at designers in general than at this blog, maybe there are copyright issues or something, but all they function as here is as a strage exercise in decoration.

    Reply
    • Henry
      October 28, 2009

      @Benjamin: Did you actually try clicking on the images as you were instructed in the post? http://www.flickr.com/photos/densitydesign/3046906412/sizes/o/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/densitydesign/3220134613/sizes/o/ http://www.designingthenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/03_wednesday_a1_72.jpg

      Reply
  41. Scotia Systems
    November 3, 2009

    Wow – stunning and fascinating! Anything which can present such complex data and statistics in ways appealing to so many people has to be a winner!

    Reply
  42. sumitk
    November 22, 2009

    Really amazing collection :) adding you to my bookmark collection …. awesome work!

    thanks!

    Reply
  43. Billa
    February 21, 2010

    Good collection of data visuals, it’s very useful. thanks for providing.

    Reply
  44. boxsail ecommerce
    March 30, 2010

    Great visualizations!

    Reply
  45. Stella Evans
    June 22, 2010

    Nice! I’m glad to see it.

    Reply
  46. Martin E
    September 2, 2010

    The Housing and Poverty visualization looks fascinating. I clicked on the link to check it out on Flickr, but find it difficult to figure out what the visualization actually means!

    Reply
  47. Mondo Print Louisville
    November 3, 2010

    Awesome! Who says graphs and data have to be boring? Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  48. Finn Fitzsimons
    May 18, 2011

    You should check out numberpicture.com – a site that crowd-sources new ways to visualize data. People make templates by typing Processingjs code and then anybody can use them by copying and pasting from excell – worth a look at – so cool!!

    Reply
  49. GIK Web Design
    June 23, 2011

    A Fantastic way of presenting data people who use power point could learn much and make some of their presentations less tedious

    Reply
  50. RD Web Design
    August 17, 2011

    This reminds me of how the government likes to demonstrate unemployment figures, just confuse the public with charts.

    Reply
  51. website design
    October 25, 2011

    That’s great, interesting stuff! Yeh, graphs aren’t boring!

    Reply
  52. andol
    March 22, 2012

    images are inspiring and stunning – but – some are difficult to understand what information the images have

    Reply

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