What Makes a Visually Staff Pick?

by Drew Skau 11 months ago Filed Under: Design

Each day, the graphics submitted to Visually are examined by our staff for shining examples of good work. The best are given the badge of Staff Pick. Being staff picked is an honor for everyone involved in a project: publisher, writer, designer, developer and animator alike. It means that Visually recognizes the project as an example of superior work in the domain of information design and visual presentation.

Since the Staff Pick badge holds some prestige, we often get requests for people’s work to be staff picked. Staff picks don’t happen at request: rather, they follow a set of guidelines established to select only the best work uploaded to Visual.ly.

We thought it would be helpful to tell the visualization community what those guidelines are, so the process is as clear and transparent as possible.

At minimum, a staff pick must have good sourcing practices. It can’t have any (or they must be highly justified) violations of best practice in data visualization. And it must have decent graphic design, including color choices, layout, and fonts.

But those qualities alone won’t push something into the Staff Pick realm. It takes a few more things to become a Visually Staff Pick. If a project does very well in many of these areas, the first three qualities get a bit more leniency.

  • Interesting angle on an issue.
  • Exceptional design/animation/use of technology.
  • Unique visualizations.
  • Uncommon insight.
  • Topic revolving around social good.
  • Humor.
  • Virality potential.
  • Great interactivity for interactive pieces.
  • Comprehensive resource for a topic.

 
Even if a project hits most of those on the mark, there are still things that can keep it from becoming a Staff Pick. With very rare exceptions, any of these things will automatically exclude a project from being Staff Picked.

  • Poor labeling.
  • Visualization best practices violations.
  • 3D pie charts.
  • Crappy clip art.
  • Low resolution.
  • Obvious typos.
  • Bad design.
  • Too much or poorly placed text.
  • Poor sourcing.
  • Bad font choices.

 
Drew Skau is Visualization Architect at Visual.ly and a PhD Computer Science Visualization student at UNCC with an undergraduate degree in Architecture. You can follow him on Twitter @SeeingStructure