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business models, strategies and technologies

Information visualisation – from ordinary to exceptional

Data visualisation and intelligent idea architecture can bring you a website with gobsmacking capabilities

Display windows, teasers and attention-grabbers

The current fashion for supposedly enlightened websites seems to be big, bold images, ultra-minimalist text and as little roll-down stuff as possible. The UX designers have probably got a smart jingo-moniker for it.

I know all the theory about websites having to be attention-grabbing display windows that imprint a message ultra-fast – I write that stuff. But sometimes it all gets just a tad bland and uninspiring – I can’t remember the last time I was joyously surprised by hidden depth, unusual erudition or gobsmacking capabilities.

A visual guide to startups, founders and venture capitalists

Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re missing until you see it. It happened recently – here. An infographics gem billed as “A visual guide to startups, founders and venture capitalists” that really made me think.  There is/was so much information crammed into a very intelligently designed, attractive interface – but it wasn’t really being “marketed”. I’d found it by mere chance on one tiny twig of the mother lode.

Just a picture of The Startup Universe infographic gold mine, from Ben Willers’ website

Hidden treasure – explanation excavation

The Startup Universe visualisation was apparently a collaborative venture involving three big names in data visualisation – Visual.ly, Accurat and Ben Willers but – strangely – I wasn’t able to find this visual information nugget on the websites of its apparent originators.

Basically, it is a visual presentation of the contents of the well-known CrunchBase database, which covers venture capitalists, startups and founders. Run-of-the-mill visualisations aren’t usually much good for showing anything more than an overview, but the meticulously considered architecture of this one shows the data from each of the different angles, as required. The startups are the focus of the structure/layout, represented by circles, while the hierarchy makes sure the reader’s eyes are drawn to the most significant parts first, while the secondary information remains easily accessible.

For anyone delving into concrete information about startups, it’s a gold mine of data that both looks and feels interesting. Light years beyond ploughing through some dreary dirge of a spread sheet.

Data – from big to delectable

“Big data” is often bandied about as a fact-anchored solution for some of the worst kinds of headless-chicken strategy. Implementing such schemes is seldom “sexy”, transparent or in any way inclusive for us non-nerds, but this kind of intelligent. well-designed visualisation seems to open new vistas of understanding for what’s possible, and for the kinds of actionable ideas we want to mine from this allegedly valuable resource.

There seem to be new challenges in the offing for data design and visualisation, as well as new commercial opportunities for creating large-scale, explorative visualisations that can help us grasp complex, multi-faceted ideas and business models.