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July 18, 2014, 10:58 a.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   July 18, 2014

Two of the biggest trends in news today: the rise of mobile and the rise of data visualization.

mobilevisThe unfortunate reality is that they’re often in conflict. Too many beautiful data visualizations are designed with a big desktop browser window in mind, not the smaller screen of an iPhone or an Android phone. Text becomes unreadable, interactions become untappable, and a lovely experience becomes unusable.

If you want to do better, check out MobileVis, a site built by Bocoup data viz whiz Irene Ros to assemble good examples of data visualizations that work well on mobile devices. (It’s funded by a Knight Prototype Fund grant.) There are lots of screenshots, illustrations of pages in motion, and notes about what makes them compelling. Ros also pulls out a set of best practices for doing visualizations for mobile:

Vertical Bar Charts: When using bar charts in portrait mode, stack your bar chart bars vertically.

Use Vertical Scrolling: When creating interfaces that don’t fit in their entirety on the screen, enable vertical scrolling instead of horizontal scrolling.

Stack Table Cells: When needing to display tables that have more than a couple of columns consider stacking cells vertically within each row.

Carousel Instead of Tabs: When allowing users to switch between different displays, instead of using tabs (which require a lot of horizontal space,) consider using a carousel with next and previous buttons.

Fix Tooltips to Area of Screen: When displaying information on touch, designate an area on screen that will update accordingly.

Use Touch Zones: When displaying a lot of data points that are hoverable/touchable, consider using defined touch zones instead.

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