Visual Storytelling Tools

Check out this great example (visual below) of the new Tableau Public 8.2 (currently in beta) Story Points feature. In the latest release, Tableau is adding a feature that allows you to click through a visualization (instead of the usual clickable dashboard format) that you can customize in a myriad of ways. I love the single frame visuals that are connected with a common storyline – it shares a lot of information, but doesn’t overwhelm, as a dashboard might, and lets the designer highlight key points and views that could get lost on a dashboard.

The format reminds of the concept/design behind Nancy Duarte’s Slidedocs templates, which can be helpful when you’re trying to find ways to present information in a visually enticing format, keeping text minimal but impactful. Have you used either of these tools or something similar to build a visual, clickable storyboard, combining data and text? I’d love to see more great examples!

Capitalizing on the World Cup: An Indicator Dashboard


Some of the most popular data visualizations capitalize on seemingly unrelated current events. Take, for example, the Wall Street Journal’s “World Cup of Everything Else” dashboard. Users select from a list of indicators to see which of the World Cup countries would “win” if the competition were for country with the most rainfall, biggest urban population, or highest obesity rate. These facts aren’t new, but packaging them in a tournament bracket layout brings a fresh interest to the data.

Most of us working in global health may not think that the World Cup is a prime opportunity for sharing data. But thinking outside the box may invite new users to explore our data. For many, events like the Olympics or the World Cup may be the first exposure to different cultures and ways of life. Why not be creative and encourage competition for “longest life expectancy”?

Do you have any creative ideas for linking global health data with  pop culture?

Free design tools: Piktochart & Canva

One of the challenges I’ve seen teams face is not having graphics expertise readily available to assist with final design of a beautiful visualization, particularly when it’s an infographic that requires curating graphs, charts, text and icons together to make a meaningful visual.

Piktochart is a personal favorite for creating infographics from existing templates (see examples below)  or designing with their various frame features (plus, their $40 annual Pro subscription for non-profit users is a steal!).  Their templates can be great inspiration for different ways   layout your data story.


For punchy smaller images and a larger library of icons and photos, I’ve also started trying out Canva, an online design tool (in open Beta) that allows you to create professional-looking graphics and guides t you with various visual best practices as you work.  Giving the striking similarity between Piktochart & Canva, I suspect there may be some connection between the two…

Susan Kistler has a nice summary review of Canva over on TheSmartestOne and there are some notes, features, and examples of a few other web-based design tools ( & in this Infographic Tools Slidedeck.

Have you used any of these free web-based design tools before? Have great examples of what you created, or challenges you ran into in the process? Share in the comments below!

Meaningful Dissemination Planning

To our data viz enthusiasts: it’s been a quiet few weeks thanks to busy work schedules, vacations, and the like, but we’ll be back with new posts 2-3 times a week starting next week, starting with lessons learned from using Prezi & a high resolution image to create a videographic within a limited timeframe and budget.

In the meantime, enjoy this great piece of viz & communications humor from Chris Lysy over at Fresh Spectrum, reminding us of the importance of thinking through how we report findings & what the dissemination plan is.

How to Lie with Data Viz


Hub member Laura O’Donnell shared this site with us from Heap’s Data Blog after seeing it float around on FaceBook in the past couple of weeks. She wrote…

It makes you really think a little bit more about how data visualizations can be used to manipulate the perspective of the audience or to manipulate data visually to support an opinion.

Ravi Parikh’s blog mentions three common ways data visualizations can be misleading

  1. Truncated Y Axis
  2. Cumulative Graphs
  3. Ignoring Conventions

Have you seen this? Have you done this? This space could be a great way to share and seek feedback on visualizations that you’re working onto make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps.