Blog » Post

Pediodic table of visualization

A very cool and handy resource: The Periodical Table of Visualization Methods (found via BoingBoing). Once the table loads, when you place your mouse over an element, you see an example visualization (diagram, cartoon, chart, etc.). This is part of the site, Visual Literacy: An E-Learning Tutorial on Visualization for Communication, Engineering and Business.

I like how the periodic table (itself a visualization!) represents the purpose and scope of each visualization in terms of four dimensions:

  1. each visualization represents one of: data, information, concepts, strategy, metaphor or compound (multiple graphic formats)
  2. each visualization represents either a process or a structure
  3. each visualization represents either an overview, or a detail view, or both overview and detail
  4. each visualization represents either convergent thinking (reducing complexity through analysis and synthesis) or divergent thinking (generating many unique, creative responses to a question or problem)

So, for example, if you wanted to create a simple overview of a process, you could use the periodic table to find types of visualizations that might be good for this, say a cycle diagram, of which you can then see an example. Pretty neat!

Coincidentally, I was just working on a diagram for a future blog post. Let's see—I guess it's a kind-of histogram. According to the periodic table, this seems like it'd be a diagram to represent a simple, structural, overview of data. Yep, sounds good!

Blog Archives

Next post: iPhone as information architecture

Prev post: What your swag says about you