Visualization Techniques

Heat map

A heat map is an information visualization technique that uses color to represent attributes of information in a two-dimensional image. Heat maps use shades or colors to differentiate values in a data set or to identify focus areas in a data set. Different colors indicate an anomaly (eg: red in a group that is mostly green), consistent colors in a group indicate a trend.


Heatmap software technologies allow users to conduct ad hoc re-grouping, filtering, searching, selecting, exporting, printing and importing from external data sources. [Commercial software] [cheap / free treemap software]

The University of Maryland has an excellent history and explanation of heatmaps and coverage of treemap software offerings. There is an extensive set of variations of how to implement heatmap visualization.

There are different types of heat maps. The two most commonly used heatmap types are treemaps and geographic (thematic) maps.

Treemap

[Treemap applied to project portfolio management]

Tree maps maps aid in identifying critical issues, allocating resources and finding trends or relationships in data sets by showing the line items from datasets in a visual format that the brain is more capable of percieving. This allows anomolies, distributions, relationships and trends to be identified. 

Treemaps are often applied to stock market analysis, risk management, project portfolio analysis, market share analysis and network management.


[Treemap applied to vehicle fleet management]

Geographic (thematic) maps

Geographic heat maps highlight anomalies, trends and distributions across a geographic area by taking  each entity on the map, such as a country or state and coloring that entity with a single color to represent the data value for that entity.

Geographic heat maps are typically used for market share analysis, risk distribution analysis and real estate market analysis.

[Geographic map applied to CO2 footprint analysis]

One excellent tool to support people making thematic maps (or even web sites) is the Color Brewer web site (http://colorbrewer2.org/).


Color Brewer was built by the authors of Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users and provides guidance as to how to mix and match colors, including color-blind friendly, print friendly and photocopy friendly color schemes.

Proportionality / relativity table
I discovered this table on an excellent Spanish picture vocabulary web site. It displays the countries with the most Spanish-language speakers. What I like about this table is the third column that is used to show the relative size of the numbers. I think it really adds value to the table.

Country
Number of Spanish Speakers
(approximate; X=10,000,000 people)



Mexico
91 million
X X X X X X X X X
Colombia
41.9 million
X X X X
Argentina
35.6 million
X X X
Spain
29.9 million
X X X
Venezuela
23.3 million
X X
USA
20.7 million
X X
Peru
20.4 million
X X
Chile
13.6 million
X
Ecuador
11.8 million
X
Dominican Republic
8.2 million
X

Video
Here's an interesting animation. You could display it in a meeting and tell a user story over the top of it instead of traditional power point shows.



Breaking waves simulation. Found on the Wired Science site.



Graphic designer Nicholas Felton visualizes numerous details about himself in personal “Annual Reports.” In this video Felton examines what a weeklong-snapshot of New York Times’ front pages reveals about America.  Found on the Poptech site.



 http://www.excelcharts.com