BBC DATA VISUALISATION

I redefined the BBC’s data visualisation style to allow graphics to stand out more effectively in article pages and have a more consistent visual presence across devices.

To tackle this major project, it was important to get the whole Visual Journalism team involved from the start. I organised workshops with the team to determine the successful and unsuccessful aspects of our style along with that of our competitors and to discuss their favourite examples of data viz. Taking the feedback from these sessions, I divided common data visualisation devices into two groups – ‘standard’, (devices used for common datasets) and ‘complex’ (those used for less regular datasets) – and identified the key elements which needed to be redefined: typographic hierarchy, labelling, layout and colour palettes.

Starting with the structure of our graphics, I produced responsive wireframe patterns for the simpler ‘standard’ chart types, with layers of detail added as screen size increases. For mobile this meant presenting only the most vital information with minimal labelling. I then applied these patterns to the more complex data viz devices.

With the colour palette, it was important that it wasn’t too restrictive but that colour combinations met accessibility guidelines for colour blindness and contrast.

The data visualisation guidelines included guidance on styling and layout but also how to choose the most appropriate data viz device for specific datasets. These were used as a template for other products across the BBC including GEL, Sport and Knowledge & Learning.