Difference between Graphic Design and Data Visualization

by Jun 20, 2018

Recently, during a workshop I was conducting, someone asked me if Data Visualization was then the same as Graphic Design. What a good question. It got me thinking.

As in many other fields, there are no set on stone definitions. For example, if someone presents this, would you say this is Graphic Design or Data Visualization?

Difficult to say, right? It looks like graphic design as the part of the ink is not providing with additional information, but we don’t have enough information to know.

And how about this?

Still not enough clues to answer…

And this one?

Now we can say: this is data visualization – using visual pre-attentive features such as colors to provide with information.

So in my opinion, both disciplines come from different backgrounds and have different purposes (although this is a way of simplifying both fields to understand their differences but of course many grey zones exist between them):

These would be another way of depicting some of the differences:

At some point, someone may also wonder where infographics stand in this discussion. Well, again in my opinion, infographics are at the intersection of both, in the sense that they are visuals that use graphic design to share information:

In conclusion, we could say that Data Visualization is using Graphic Design to the service of communicating information:

New posts coming up:

(published every two weeks-ish 🙂 )

  • ToCs series
  • Visual summary of impact designs
  • Visual summaries of other criteria designs
  • Ideas to make Bibliographies more informative
  • Ways of mapping beneficiaries
  • My favorite pre-attentive features
  • Ideas for reports (series)
  • Some day: iterations with the Periodic Table of Evaluation

And more!

Stay tuned! 🙂

You want to see more Visuals?