Choosing the most approriate information display

You have carried out your research, you’ve amassed your data, and you’re ready to share your data sets with colleagues, students or the world. Now, are you really going trot out that tired old pie chart once again? Is that going to help your audience make comparisons, see relationships and patterns, and understand your material? Why not identify the information display most suited to your purpose? Christian Behrens, a Masters student at Potsdam University’s Information Design program, has developed this handy interactive reference for doing just that (follow the link then click Pattern Search).

Just fill in the principles, goals, classes and dimensions you require…


and voila! Options!

Click to enlarge: the detail is important.

Christian even provides examples, definitions, and best practices for each of the dozens of information display styles in his elegant site.


Perhaps the best feature of Christian’s site is the pattern search because it forces the user to think hard about the purpose of the data.

Neither Christian’s site nor Christian himself will help you create the information graphic, however. If translating data into useful, clear graphics is not your thing, give Many Eyes.com a spin. At Many Eyes, you upload your data (from an Excel spreadsheet, for example) to the Many Eyes server, select a visualization style, and your information graphic is made for you. You even get a url and forum unique to your graphic.