Interactive visualization: Bringing attention-grabbing data to life

Creating a visual representation of a data set often demands a lot of creative problem-solving and strategic decision-making. In using Ceros to create animated interactive modules and bring data to life, we’ve been playing around with research from our own extracurricular interests.

As anyone can tell from the myriad documentaries and dramatized series now on Netflix, people have an odd fascination with serial killers. As for me, ever since I took an abnormal psychology class in college, I have been fascinated by the minds of people without empathy or healthy emotional attachment. I’m intrigued because they’re so foreign to anything we can comprehend. So intrigued, in fact, that I’m attending my third CrimeCon event this June.

I combined my recreational reading with my professional interest in data visualization, curious to see what the geographical spread of serial killers looked like. Dark, I know—but the proliferation of docuseries and shows must mean I’m not the only one. So with some research and data problem-solving, including how best to organize and convey the information, I developed the interactive map below.

Any time we’re asked to illustrate a huge data set like this one, we have to work through the characteristics unique to that data. Whether we’re looking at employment statistics, EBITDA growth, survey results, or amateur Wikipedia research, the stories we tell require a solid narrative to be interesting for the viewer. The goal is to let an audience into the story as easily as possible and then make it accessible, engaging, and visually interesting for them. Here, for example, are some trends and patterns that come out loud and clear in the visualization.

If you’re looking for more stats on serial killers, you can see the list we used on Wikipedia or join me at CrimeCon.

Delilah Zak

The principal visualization artist at Leff, Delilah works collaboratively with the team to conceptualize and create all manner of graphic content, from public reports to management articles to standalone infographics and beyond.

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