Successful Storytelling Through Data Visualization

Brian Suda · Monday, November 12 · 8:30 am – 5:30 pm · in Plaza A

Give new life to boring tables of data. Help your users see important turning points in their work. Show them they’re on track to meet critical life goals. Do that by presenting vibrant, informative visualizations.

Our business has become great at collecting and producing raw data. Learn to go beyond words and numbers. Create a way to explore the deeper meaning and insights. Tell the important stories buried within.

Brian combines visual design, interaction design, and storytelling to become one of the world’s leading informaticians.

The Day’s Agenda


The language of data visualization.

  • Unlock the charting toolbox with a tour through the basic chart types.
  • Explore the gamut of static and interactive visualization tools.
  • Learn when visualizations are most effective and when they deserve to be shamed.

The psychology of data visualization.

  • Surface how color, saturation, positioning, and weights signal change through gestalt principles.
  • Discover how more complex data visualizations, like maps, are composed of basic building blocks.
  • Understand your data point-of-view, to avoid the traps of lying with data.


The design of data visualization.

  • Discover how color plays an important role in the design of successful data visualizations.
  • Craft a publication plan that fits your organization’s needs and gets your stories out.
  • See how your business experiences can be enhanced with data visualizations.

The storytelling in data visualization.

  • Identify the story you want to tell your readers with data.
  • Harness the seven stages of the mythic journey to identify the draw and the payoff.
  • Explore classic charts that tell great stories to inspire your own storytelling through data.

Deliver Delightful Stories Through Data To Your Users

Focus on the data at the center of your story.

Learn to throw away unuseful data, so you can tell the right story. You’ll have permission to be selective in the story you tell.

Escape the bonds of complex words and numbers.

A picture replaces a table full of numbers or a thousand words. Get a great message across in an instant by presenting a clear visualization.

Learn where your biases may slip in.

Awareness is the key to this game. Is your title misleading? Are you using the best type of chart? Knowing how to make charts and graphs work effectively ensures you’re communicating what you want, when you want.

You’ll see how to:

  • Identify the right memento, whether it be 3d, printed, or physical visualizations.
  • Find the right technology for your visualizations, whether Canvas or SVG.
  • Include a wide audience by designing accessible data visualizations.
  • Avoid traps of visualizations that can lie to distort the real story behind your data.
  • Signal change by drawing attention with clever change mechanisms.
  • Explore the complete palette of chart types at your disposal.

Your Storytelling Will Get A Lot More Compelling

A few points of data, drawn well, lure the reader in.

Start with the basic atoms of charting. Explore how changing small things about the chart changes the underlying meaning. Dive deep into the subtlety and nuance that turns a display of pixels into a purposeful story.

You’ve got a ton of data. Now turn it into something that matters.

When users are focused on the day-to-day, they often miss the big picture. But it’s hard to see the big picture in a table of data. We need to represent that data in an intelligent, clear, and compelling way.

The perfect storm of great visual design, storytelling, and interaction design skills.

In the end, we want to deliver a great experience. We need to master the skills to do that. Creating great data visualizations means mastering multiple skills simultaneously, combining them in a way that produces delightful graphics.

We change our users’ lives and improve their work by delivering the insights they need.

A well-designed data visualization helps our users make important decisions and see the patterns that would otherwise be hidden deep inside a table of data. Poor visualizations just create confusion and frustration for our users. We know which side of this we need to be on.

It Gets Easier With Practice

Roll up your sleeves. We’ll take a real design project that has all the potential of being boring, and turn it into something delightful, practicing all the techniques. When we say roll up your sleeves, we mean it. You won’t need a laptop. You’ll do everything through hands-on doodles and markers.

Brian Suda

Photo of Brian Suda

Here’s what Jared says about why he chose Brian for UI23…

We fell in love with Brian’s book, A Practical Guide to Designing With Data. Then we fell in love with Brian and the way he makes learning how to design with data seem so easy.

Brian hails from Reykjavík, Iceland, where he consults for organizations all over the world to help them tell better stories. He’s a fantastic storyteller himself and a great teacher. He’s also one of the organizers behind Iceland’s Material conference, exploring the intrinsic characteristics of the web as its own material.

You’ll love spending a full day, learning what it takes to successfully create stories using data visualization.

↑ To the top of Brian’s workshop description