About being sensible

Missives from Hothouse Design

Citizen science, big data and birds

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, October 29, 2015   

Migratory birds fly at night. Obviously right? Well they aren't sitting around waiting for the sun to come up before they take off in a big flock and continue their journey. But before radar technology became available, few people knew about migrating birds flying at night.    Read More . . .

We design schematics. What do you do?

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, October 15, 2015   

When I am asked 'What do you do?' I want to tell the asker all about the schematics we produce because they are the most unusual work we do and the most interesting. But they are awfully hard to explain so I am going to have a crack at it here.    Read More . . .

Show rather than tell

Deirdre Wilson – Tuesday, June 30, 2015   

Be still my beating heart! Finally, parking signs redesigned as a timetable. Yes, I know that sounds incredibly dull but they are a perfect case for a graphic representation of the data they are displaying. Of course, there are issues of real estate - text takes up less space.   Read More . . .

Why donut graphs are as awful as real donuts

Deirdre Wilson – Tuesday, December 02, 2014   

Donut graphs are so pretty…pretty awful. Oh, they can look really good but they are nigh on impossible to read. So here I rant about the plague of donut graphs marching across our corporate reporting landscape.    Read More . . .

The big rigmarole about creating infographics

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, November 20, 2014   

We have been having fun lately with infographics, one of our favourite things to do but something we do rarely. Getting infographics right, or close to right, takes a lot of commitment from all involved. It's a big rigmarole to work out what the key message is, develop the narrative, collect the supporting data and develop the visual story.    Read More . . .

What do infographics and aeroplanes have in common?

Deirdre Wilson – Wednesday, November 19, 2014   

This is a visualisation shows Transatlantic air traffic over a 24 hour period taken from a day in August 2013. You can see that the traffic is all fairly uniform, following very clearly defined routes. But it does look there are a few head-on collisions which clearly isn't true.   Read More . . .

Pot cutaway diagrams

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, August 07, 2014   

Martin Kellock Pots & Planters supply fabulous pots for use indoors. ‘But what about water leaking on my carpet?’ I imagine you asking me. Why you think I would know is anyone’s guess but in fact I do know – now. You see we have recently produced a series of cutaway diagrams showing how you can have your pot and not ruin your carpet.    Read More . . .

When a picture is worth 119 words

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, June 26, 2014   

Storytelling and infographics are both popular, powerful and overused tools. Maslow's hammer theory - if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail seems alive and well demonstrated in the overuse of storytelling and infographics. The key to being effective with these tools is to make sure you are using the tool that will best do the job.    Read More . . .

Sankey diagrams

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, April 24, 2014   

Sankey diagrams are just delicious, combining flow with proportion. They are the love child of a flow chart and a pie chart. Immensely practical and frequently a bit ugly, these are the best tool for showing how something gets divided up and where those divisions go. Any infographic fan knows about this famous diagram  Read More . . .

Storing lemons in your socks is as dumb as data without context

Deirdre Wilson – Wednesday, April 16, 2014   

When computers were new and dinosaurs roamed the earth, we used the expression GIGO - garbage in garbage out. It reminded us that computers were only as good as their users. It is time that GIGO came back into regular use. Presenters are plaguing us with pretty looking garbage because they have forgotten about GIGO. We are in an era of style over substance. This problem is aggravated by the multitude of tools now available that create beautiful, or at least pleasing, output of your input. Just look at most collections of infographics to see heaps of GIGO presentations.    Read More . . .


Basics. Know what they are. Get them right. Repeat.

About being sensible.

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