You don’t have to be a designer to be well-versed in the teachings of Edward Tufte. In fact, anyone who works with data or marketing in any capacity can benefit from his principles of information design. The statistician has encouraged the effective presentation of data with his writings for decades, and to be honest, we don’t think his practices will ever go out of style. But we’ll let Tufte do the talking – without further ado, here are our favorite Tufte quotes.
“Escaping [the] flatland and enriching the density of data displays are the essential tasks of information design.” 2.
Tufte advocates for dimensional complexity in order to communicate layers of data in a confined space. Limited or “flat” data belongs in a table, while intricate chart designs offer a chance for more dense collections of information to shine.
“The quantity of detail is an issue completely separate from the difficulty of reading.” 2
What good information design does is make dense information easy to read at a glance. It might seem like an oxymoron, but the more one studies the nuance and expertise of Tufte, the easier it is to visualize what this might look like. One of our (and Tufte’s) favorite real-world examples is a train schedule – it packs a major amount of information onto a grid with the purpose of quick readability.
“Graphical elegance is often found in simplicity of design and complexity of data.”1
This should be a mantra for marketers everywhere. Keeping this in mind will help to temper any urges to add auxiliary design elements that serve no purpose but decoration – what Tufte calls “chart junk.”
“Design techniques for enhancing graphical clarity in the face of complexity must be developed along with multifunctioning elements.” 1
A concrete way to aid in the simplicity of a design is to make certain elements do more than one job at once. Limiting the ink on the page will automatically make a chart more absorbable for a reader’s eyes.
“Graphic excellence” is “that which gives the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.” 1
Though a mouthful, we think this might be the very best summation of Tufte-style information design in one sentence. We’re all striving for graphic excellence, and Tufte gives us the masterful words to help us get there.
We like to think of Weber Associates as even more so an information design agency than a creative agency. Though the scope of our work encompasses plenty of creative, from B2C collateral, to B2B presentations, to videos, you won’t find a flashy video animation on our homepage. Some of our most impactful work takes place deep in the data of our clients. Whether we enhance a digital tool, perform a communications audit, or offer B2B strategy, numbers are at the core of every project. We’re like a well-oiled machine – with data as the input and metrical results as the output, our end goal is always to improve client operations to increase sales.
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
About Weber Associates
Weber Associates is a Columbus, OH-based consulting firm. Since 1985, we have blended the creativity of a marketing agency with the analytical rigor of a consultancy to help our clients solve real sales and marketing challenges so they can significantly grow revenues and customer loyalty.