Last month we launched Trafford Data Labʼs new website: trafforddatalab.io. The site includes thematic profiles on Trafford borough, interactive maps, and links to several open datasets. There is also information about the different projects we are involved in and a news feed. The site embodies our commitment to clarity, openness and reproducibility.
We strive for an economy of style in all of our data visualisations. We actively remove chart clutter but resist the “radical minimalism” (Cairo 2012) of Edward Tufte (1983) by adopting a less stripped down approach that is familiar to readers of the Economist and Financial Times.
We’ve designed and adopted a Lab theme using the ggplot2 R package to help maintain consistent, high quality outputs. Each visualisation conforms to the same style so that every chart or map is clear and recognisably a Lab output.
Each visualisation is provided as an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) so that their quality doesn’t degrade as users zoom or resize them. Visualisations are also available in a downloadable PNG format for reuse elsewhere.
We have also restricted the number of typefaces and colour palettes. Googleʼs Roboto and Open Sans typefaces are used throughout the site in two shades of grey (#212121 and #757575). We also use a vibrant orange (#fc6721) to add colour and help readers to differentiate between the data we’ve encoded and the chart elements (axes, labels etc) behind them.
We continue to be committed to the sourcing, preparation and publication of open data. For example, we’ve just updated our interactive map of defibrillator locations in Trafford and will shortly be asking people to help crowdsource updated locations so that it remains as accurate and timely as possible.
We aim to ensure that all the open data we publish has a minimum 3-star openness rating. Our data must be accessible on the Web in a machine readable non-proprietary format with a licence that permits anyone to reuse it.
Inspired by Open Science initiatives and news organisations like FiveThirtyEight and BuzzFeed we have decided to publish the data and code that drive our data visualisations. Making our data and code available allows users to both recreate our data visualisations and inspect them to see how they were built. Each visualisation has downloadable R script that can be adapted by citizens, public and third sector agencies, news organisations and others working with data for the public good.
We have worked hard over the last few months to create our website and we hope you like it too. If you have any comments about our website weʼd love to hear from you in the comments below or on Twitter @trafforddatalab
Cairo, A. (2012). The Functional Art: An introduction to information graphics and visualization. New Riders.
Tufte, Edward R. (1983) The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. 2nd Edition, Graphics Press, Cheshire, Connecticut.