The Data Visualisation Catalogue Blog

New Content Structure

Recently I’ve been thinking about changing the content structure of each chart/visualisation reference page. This has come about from reading through the site and finding a lot of the current content to be dated.

Of course, this is probably due to my knowledge and understanding of data visualisation having increased over the years. So naturally, any content that I had written back then would not have been as well informed.

So why has none of the pages been updated yet? The issue is getting the time to write new content. Rewriting the entire data visualisation catalogue would be a massive project that could take at least a year to complete.

Also, I don’t think I would want to release new visualisation reference pages bit-by-bit as I did in the past. I think it would be better (for now) to try and do as many pages a possible to make sure things are consistent. I’m also not sure I’d like to continue in a website format (for now).

At least before I begin anything, I think it would be best to plan a content structure to follow when writing any new visualisation reference pages. I think it would be good to organise the information on each visualisation type in a way that would be effective both in teaching people about it and as a useful reference resource. Therefore, it’s key to decide how to break up the information on visualisation into chunks in a way that I think people will find helpful. Breaking the information up into chunks also facilitates more efficient referencing.

So in this post, I want to list and explain the chunks or ‘sections’ I’ve been thinking to include in my content structure. But if you have any suggestions, then please comment in the comment section, as I’ll be interested in hearing anyone else’s thoughts. Maybe there’s something you’ve thought that’s been missing on the website for ages now that you think will be useful.

Currently, on the site, the content for each chart reference page is as follows:

  • The visualisation’s name
  • An example image
  • The description
  • Anatomy of the chart
  • Functions tags
  • Similar charts list
  • Tools to generate visualisation list
  • Paid examples
  • (Sometimes) explanation video

From previous projects and my research, I’ve accumulated more data on visualisation types both currently on the website and those not included. Therefore, from this data, I’ve thought about adding some new sections or tweaking some existing sections.

The proposed new or updated sections are as follows:

Other names (newish)

A list of all the other names associated with this visualisation. This is already listed in the description section, but maybe it would be better to position other names somewhere else like directly under the visualisation’s name.

Description (updated)

Currently, the description section covers the entire written explanations, usages, and details relating to the featured visualisation. However, in the future, this section could be shortened and just focused on a description of how the chart looks and how it’s drawn. I think it would be better to break up the text explanation into dedicated sections (description, usage, and how to read).

Usage (new)

This section would explain what the visualisation is typically used for. This could be in terms of analytical usage, what the visualisation is good at communicating, or any specialised applications for this visualisation type (for example, in quality control, finance).

Maybe the function tags could also be listed here.

How to read (new)

This section could contain both an anatomy image and a written explanation of how to read the visualisation. It would be good to mention any patterns or signals that can appear on a visualisation, which aid in interpreting it.

Best practices & tips (new)

A list of tips with (potentially) mini examples or icons that aid in making visualisation clear and honest.

Encoding tags (new)

A list of tags on how the data is visually encoded: based on position, length, direction, angle, area, volume, shading.

Similar visualisations

(Formerly ‘Variations’ or ‘Similar Charts’)
A list of links to similar or related visualisations. Currently, this section on the website is a bit inconsistent and needs adjusting.

Variations (newish)

(If applicable) small example images or icons of any variations of the visualisation. Instead of just a list like in ‘similar visualisations’, this section could demonstrate how a variation on the discussed chart looks like. However, the issue with this section is that it might be tricky to determine what would qualify as a ‘variation’ and what would just be listed under ‘similar charts’.

Example gallery (newish)

I think it would be good to display a small gallery of handpicked examples of visualisation being used effectively. This wouldn’t be the same as the current examples section, which just lists paid example images.

How to create

(Formerly ‘Tools to Generate Visualisation’)
A list of links to tools capable of drawing the visualisation. This list would be divided up into three groups: code-based, web apps, and desktop apps. At the moment, this section includes some lists that have gotten too long (vertically). It would be good to divide this section into three categories and include more links since there are so many options these days.

Research papers (new)

I thought it could be a good idea to include a list of academic studies that have studied a particular visualisation. Here, readers could read further into a visualisation type.

. . .

The ordering of these sections is still undecided, as this would, of course, depend on the medium used to present the information. Also, these sections could possibly change or new ones added as I work through each visualisation type and see what works well and what doesn’t.

The next step would be to produce an example page that utilises this new format.

If you have any suggestions, then please comment below.

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