Data Visualization Society Logo: Behind the scenes

Amy Cesal
Amy Cesal
Mar 6 · 5 min read

I’m Amy Cesal, one of the founding members of the Data Visualization Society and I’m a data viz and graphic designer. Every organization needs a logo. For a group of people who specialize in visualizing data, the logo for the society needed to represent this passion.

Data Visualization Society Logo when we launched

Inspiration

The Open Knowledge Foundation created their logo from data about the communities they work with. FiveThirtyEight recently released a personality quiz that visualized different metrics as radar charts. Many people, like Neil Richard and Giorgia Lupi, are using the idea of small multiples to represent comparisons of different groups, and encoding data in unique and beautiful ways.

(left to right) Open Knowledge logo, FiveThirtyEight personality quiz, Neil Richard UK Number Ones, Giorgia Lupi data centerpieces

Visualizing data visualization

One way to visualize the whole community is to convert them to data points, then create a simple visual that averages everyone into a cohesive mark for the logo. Since data visualization touches on many skill sets, and people come to it from different backgrounds, I wanted to to visualize each member’s unique visualization skills. The skill categories are loosely inspired by Andy Kirk’s data visualization hats principal. While there’s no absolute metric to measure these qualities, we developed a way to let people rank themselves across 9 categories pertaining to their skills in Data, Visualization, and Society.

Data (collection, cleaning, analysis) Visualization (design, building, storytelling) Society (project management, community, leadership)
Levels: 0 (novice) 1 (learning) 2 (beginning) 3 (intermediate) 4 (advanced) 5 (expert)

While the scale may not be perfect, we’ve worked to incorporate feedback. We acknowledge that people come to data visualization from a variety of places, and the data fingerprint gives people a general sense of where these skills lie. You can start to see trends, like large teal triangles convey an emphasis on data, a large yellow spike to the upper right is someone with a strong design background, and smaller forms indicate someone might be new to the field and just starting out.

Points (clockwise): building, community, data cleaning, design, leadership, analysis, storytelling, project management, data collection

Global membership

We also wanted to convey where people are located. We are encouraging worldwide membership, and wanted an element in the fingerprint to nod to this. We imagined many members using their Data Visualization Society data fingerprint as their profile image for the Slack channel. With global membership, people will be on 24/7 but might not respond because of a time difference. Including a line to indicate time zone helps with this problem when, at a glance, you can tell if people are on the other side of the world from you.

Rough timezone estimate overlay

In practice

(left) Amy’s data fingerprint (right) her partner’s data fingerprint

The data fingerprint on the left is mine. My background is in design, and I have less experience with cleaning and analyzing data. I also have strong skills in leadership and community, which drew me to wanting to start the Data Visualization Society.

The one on the right is my partner’s. He has a stronger background in data and analysis, and fewer skills in design, which actually make us a good pair to work on projects together. We live in the same time zone, which is reflected by the grey line. Each data fingerprint shows our unique strengths.

The mega logo

Every individual membership surveys feeds back into the average of the society and changes the overall logo. The data fingerprint for the society is a fairly balanced mix of triangles, which is exciting! The mark will continue to evolve and shift as more people join and their skills are reflected in the logo. We plan to update it over time as the data changes.

Updated data visualization society logo

Data fingerprint badges for members

Elijah Meeks has been working on a d3 generator to take membership survey data and produce unique data fingerprints. If you’ve signed up to be a member you’ll receive your badge in our inaugural update email that’s going to be sent out to members soon!

The future

This is an awesome amount of data, and while the logo will update with new data, the design will not change. It will be interesting to see other people’s interpretation of this information.

selection of members data fingerprints

If you want to take part in this community, become a member. If you have ideas or the time to put into a more active role, please contact us via email, or on Twitter.

this article was co-written by Amy Cesal, Mollie Pettit & Elijah Meeks


Outtakes

Logo creation is always a process, and not every idea turns into a great logo. Here are just a few of the many that didn’t make the cut.

sketches of logos that didn’t make the cut

Edit: this article was updated to reflect the rotation in the labeling of the badges.

Nightingale

The Journal of the Data Visualization Society

Thanks to Elijah Meeks

Amy Cesal

Written by

Amy Cesal

Amy Cesal is a designer who specializes in data visualization

Nightingale

The Journal of the Data Visualization Society

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