Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

303. Transforming Data into Art: A Conversation with Sarah Kay Miller

The importance of data visualization cannot be overstated, as it plays a crucial role in making complex data accessible, engaging, and actionable. Presenting data in a way that clearly communicates an underlying narrative or message can lead to more effective decision-making and a deeper understanding of data-driven insights. Additionally, data visualization assists in conveying these messages to different audiences, ensuring that the information is received and interpreted accurately.

In her conversation with Melina Palmer, Sarah Kay Miller discusses the importance of crafting a narrative with data visualization and how it can effectively communicate complex information. She notes that data visualization is not merely about producing visually appealing designs but also about presenting data in such a way that resonates with the intended audience. Throughout their discussion, Miller emphasizes the importance of thoughtfulness and creativity in creating meaningful data art. In this episode:

  • Delve into the captivating realm of data visualization and data art to transform information processing.
  • Understand the difference between data visualization and data art.
  • Appreciate the critical connection between narrative and impactful data visualization and data art.
  • Obtain key pointers to design compelling data visuals that resonate with diverse audiences.
  • Identify the value of thought-provoking comparisons for maximum effectiveness in data presentations.
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00:00:00 – Introduction,
Melina introduces the Brainy Business podcast and welcomes Sarah Kay Miller, a data visualization designer, to the show. She also announces the 5-year anniversary of the podcast and the data art created by Sarah Kay to celebrate the milestone.

00:02:29 – About Sarah Kay Miller,
Sarah Kay Miller is an independent data visualization designer with a background in graphic design. She defines data visualization as the process of visualizing data, making it more intuitive for humans to understand patterns, trends, and comparisons. Data art, on the other hand, is a broader category of creative endeavors that draw inspiration from or are touched by data.

00:05:00 – Data Visualization vs. Data Art,
The line between data visualization and data art is blurry. Data visualization involves creating charts and graphs that help people understand data more intuitively, while data art is a creative endeavor that draws inspiration from data sets. Both are necessary and can be used in different contexts.

00:08:00 – Process of Data Visualization,
Sarah Kay Miller spends a lot of time investigating data sets and collaborating with clients to understand domain expertise. Data visualization involves threading a narrative through the data to make it more interesting and engaging. It allows people to communicate messages, insights, or ideas more effectively.

00:13:21 – Sarah Kay’s Process,
Sarah Kay Miller’s process involves three main phases: groundwork, design, and iteration. She elaborates on each phase and how she approaches them.

00:15:37 – Designing Data Visualizations,
Sarah Kay Miller talks about her process of designing data visualizations. She discusses how she dives into the data and visualizes it in many ways — everything from basic charts to the more elaborate and artistic. She also talks about the importance of understanding brand identity and color palettes when designing.

00:17:08 – Insights from Data Visualization,
Miller shares her insights from visualizing data from The Brainy Business podcast. She talks about the upward trend in podcast downloads since 2018 and the number of downloads per episode. Melina and Sarah Kay also discuss the impact of the first two episodes on listeners, and how people tend to go back and listen to the earlier episodes.

00:22:49 – Design Ideas & Brand Identity,
Miller talks about her design ideas for The Brainy Business podcast. She discusses the importance of staying within the brand identity of the podcast and how she used inspiration from the typography of the logo to create a groovy and energetic design.

00:27:03 – Final Product & Data Art,
Miller shares the final product of her data visualization for The Brainy Business podcast. She talks about how she played with the layout of the circles to give it more movement and how she used a brighter blue to make it pop on thumbnails. She also talks about the importance of showcasing the global reach of the podcast and how everyone matters.

00:30:49 – Data Visualization as Data Art,
Sarah discusses the importance of representing data in a visually appealing way and the power of data art to convey information. She talks about her love for creating unique and unusual chart types and how they can help tell a story.

00:34:05 – Fun Project on Architecture,
Sarah shares details of a project she worked on for Space 10, a subsidiary of IKEA. She talks about how they created a data set for a visualization of the history of tools architects use and how digital tools have impacted building design. The end result was a comprehensive and beautiful data visualization that straddled both data visualization and data art.

00:40:53 – Data Visualization for Social Media,
Sarah talks about the challenges of creating data visualizations for social media, where attention spans are shorter and space is limited. She discusses the importance of video and motion design in creating engaging and informative data stories for platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

00:43:51 – Time Required for Projects,
Sarah explains that the timeline for a data visualization project varies depending on the scope, and collecting data can add time to the process. She suggests that two to three months is doable for a small to medium-sized project, but larger or more complex projects can take longer.

00:46:44 – The Importance of Data Visualization,
The value of data art and visualization in effectively communicating data to viewers. She emphasizes the need to understand numbers and find meaningful comparisons to make data more relatable to humans.

00:47:25 – Impactful Data Visualization Examples,
Melina shares about an article in The New York Times on vacant office spaces in New York City as an excellent example of impactful data visualization. The comparison of the number of vacant spaces to the Empire State Building makes the data more memorable and understandable.

00:48:01 – Pareto Principle in Data Visualization,
The Pareto principle or 80/20 rule is discussed for data visualization. Melina recommends spending 80% of the time on the 20% of data that’s most important or interesting to make the visualization more impactful.

00:48:34 – Conclusion,
Melina’s top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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