One of the first visualizations I attempted that was not part of a community project was a visual resume. I loved seeing the visual resumes that others had published. I had just redone my paper version in more of a graphic style the prior year and wanted to try my hand at a data visualization as well. There was 25+ years of full time work experience to fit in and tell the story of my career. This was not an easy task even when trying to accomplish it on paper never mind a new medium.
My #MakeoverMondays are quick hits once a week to keep in practice. I have a bit longer for #ProjectHealthViz and #IronQuest. This was a prime opportunity for a more lengthy review and revision. There was no deadline and I was doing it for my own gratification fortunately not to secure a new position. As it turned out my visual resume was a year-long process of contemplation and iteration. I was lucky to receive feedback from many people I respect. I struggled with the best way to incorporate a variety of feedback some of which conflicted and that contributed to some of the delay in publishing.
There were two things that were really challenging throughout the process. The first was that I was never satisfied. Even now I have not achieved the crispness and professionalism I admire in so many other visual resumes. All the same it was time to move forward, publish the viz and recognize all who had spent time assisting me. The other challenge was how to handle conflicting feedback from people I admired. As I chased my elusive goal of achieving a sense of satisfaction, I continued to reach out to people whose work I admired. Sometimes the feedback was exactly what I needed. Other times the feedback I received conflicted with prior feedback and occasionally it conflicted with deliberate choices I made.
To be fair I included controversial visual elements. People seem to either love Sankeys or hate them. It often feels like people use them to show off in one way or another. Perhaps I was doing the same here but I felt like it was the chart that best represented how my skills and experiences layered on top each other. I use things I have learned from every job I have held.
The Sankey as the main element really did not change that much nor did much of the content though I tuned and enriched it. The color and layout changes were extreme. I got great feedback from Josh Smith and Erik Rettman as part of #TheFeedbackLoop. Josh gently encouraged me to explore other color choices that were not so “jarring”. Believe me he said it in the nicest most supportive way possible and I knew he was right. Erik Rettman suggested I use Ken Flerlage’s curvy timeline and this became my second big element. This is one of the most interactive visualizations I have created with tons of additional content included in hover over tooltips. I wanted to include icons, visual elements and details about my personal life as well as professional life. I wanted someone to be able to look at this and get a picture of who I am and what I care about.
I went from a wide display that would have required scrolling across and would have blown up anyone’s screen to the current long form. I LOVE my bright pinks and vivid Hue Circle color palette but I recognize it might have been a little over the top. My second revision went too far in the other direction relying on the Color Blind palette. In the end it was a recommendation from Maria Brock to pick one primary and two secondary complimentary colors. She also recommended a more muted palette.
I loved how Lindsay Betzendahl incorporated her vizzes into her resume and she helped me do the same. That helped me include additional visual elements but the opening was still at odds with the playful nature I was trying to capture. Bridget Cogley helped identify that my opening read too much like a LinkedIn profile and that I had the opportunity to bring more personality to the text.
I will be honest here, I am a people pleaser and if someone takes the time to help me I want to make sure I incorporate their suggestions. In the end I decided I had to be true to my vision and what worked for me. I hoped the people who provided suggestions that I did not incorporate would understand and felt pretty confident they would or I would not have chosen them in the first place. I think that is an important component to asking for feedback. You have to trust the people you are working with.
As for providing feedback it comes in all different formats. I love the process and structure outlined as part of #TheFeedbackLoop. It keeps things positive but still gives us plenty to work with. That is not to suggest that feedback always needs to be positive, sometimes you really need that direct jolt of someone telling you what does not work for them. Even if you don’t agree it is good to take a second look and consider why you made that choice.
Thanks to Josh Smith, Erik Rettman, Maria Brock, Lindsay Betzendahl and Bridget Cogley for taking the time to review my work and provide thoughtful feedback and support.
TheFeedbackLoop Rubric – Josh Smith
Here’s our general rubric for evaluation. Some general guidelines: feedback should be primarily positive. Remember that a lot of this is subjective — although feel free to jump into some more of the statistical stuff, too (like, “I might have chosen median there”). Consequently, recognize that even if it doesn’t make sense to you, there was probably a reason the author made their choices. A common phrase in artistic workshops is “I feel like <X> is working – can you turn up the volume on that?” And negative feedback, which is sometimes necessary, should be given with consideration. The inverse phrasing is common: “<X> isn’t working for me, could you turn the volume down on that? Or have you considered <Y>?”
Generally speaking, feedback should very rarely take the form of “Do <X>”, or “You should do <Y>”. It’s simply not helpful for one artist to take the reigns of another artist like that.
The major goal here is to help people understand which elements of their style and choices are working, and how they can maximize on those. However, we can’t ignore the secondary goal of helping people see some less obvious “mistakes”, like misleading titles, etc.
As a framework, you can bucket your category in the following rubric – but this isn’t exhaustive, so feel free to jump outside of this:
Visceral: how do you feel looking at the viz? How engaging is the appearance of the viz? How are all the aesthetic choices working to support the overall theme and content?
Behavioral: how do you feel interacting with the viz? How easy is it to understand what you can and can’t do? How effective do you feel the interactivity is? Note: “interactivity / using” here might include “reading”, to allow for considerations such as organization and coherence. Not all visuals are meant to be interactive, so for the sake of this workshop reading may fall into visceral or behavioral, depending on how the text is used (discretion up to the person providing feedback).
Reflective: how do you feel thinking about the viz? Is the content interesting and engaging? Is there a narrative, and if so, do you feel that a story is adequately told? If it isn’t a story, do the insights feel trustworthy? Did the viz evoke any emotions? How do the design choices support the content and themes? This could also be considered the “impact” of the viz.
Ethics, accessibility, and approachability: Are there potential ethical concerns that should be considered? Could this viz ever [unintentionally] harm or be used to harm an individual or a group of people? How accessible is this viz to individuals with disabilities (i.e. vision deficiencies or learning disabilities)? Is this viz approachable to different [gender/racial/ethnic/religious, etc.] groups?
Other thoughts not captured: anything else you want to toss out there that isn’t captured above?
Recommended inspiration: are there certain vizzes or vizzers you recommend the creator view for inspiration and ideas?