They’re radically different. Tufte advocates simple data visualisations with a maximum data-to-ink ratio. Holmes likes to add visual elements, pictures and illustrations onto charts, which Tufte calls “chartjunk”. You’ll have noticed the striking difference between these two competing schools when you upgraded your iPhone from the Holmes-inspired, skeuomorphic iOS 6 to the Tufte-inspired, clear and minimalist iOS 7.
Clearly, the Tufte-inspired version on the right looks much better.
Here is a simple introduction to minimalist Tufte design:
I’m on the side of Tufte here. I like complicated data visualised in a simple-looking graphic. Looking back at the graphics I made last summer, I decided to update the Mineral Water Composition chart I made last year according to Tufte’s design philosophy.
Here’s the new, Tufte-inspired version:
And here’s the old Holmes-inspired version I made a year ago:
There are now 20 graphics on my to-do list. I’ll probably make about 5 of them, and only one or two of those will be any good. 😛 (Making graphics is a bit like taking photographs—you take 1000 photos on holiday, delete 500 and put no more than 6 on your wall.)
The graphic below is a follow-up to Ingredients of an All-Natural Banana. To make these graphics, I calculated the percentage composition of all the interesting ingredients and wrote an “ingredients” label for each fruit using E-numbers where they exist. Anthocynanins, which are said to give blueberries their “superfood” status, are also known as E163, for example.
As a Chemistry teacher, I want to erode the fear that many people have of “chemicals”, and demonstrate that nature evolves compounds, mechanisms and structures far more complicated and unpredictable than anything we can produce in the lab. Enjoy!
I like the “fresh air” at the end. Nitrogen is E941, Oxygen is E948 and Carbon Dioxide is E290. (Argon, which comprises about 1% of the air we breathe, also has its own E-number: E938.) Thousands of minority ingredients including DNA have been omitted for brevity’s sake.
Here are the last of the Visual Ingredients posters I’m planning to make. Here’s Chanel No. 5 and a cheap (but also popular) deodorant as well just for the comparison’s sake. Enjoy!
More book reviews coming soon. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of reading and reviewing 104 books in 2013… I’ve read 87 so far, and the reviews are either uploaded or queued. That leaves me with 17 books and 13 days in which to read them!
Steve Jobs studied calligraphy, which inspired the beautifully-designed fonts on the Lisa computer. In fact, his fascination with finessing fine details was manifested in all the Apple products he helped to design—including the famous “we spent six weeks deciding how round the corners should be [on the Apple IIe]” and “we spent months finding the right friction coefficient [for the MacBook Pro trackpad]”. I admire his perfectionist streak, and wanted to learn something about lettering myself.
Color Management focussed solely on color, layout and design—and was badly written. Lettering & Type, however, gets the balance of text and examples just right: on each double-spread, one page is filled with prose, while each opposing page is dedicated to graphic examples. (I even suggested this balance in my review of Color Management).
I learned that typeface design is a very fine art. Within the confines of dozens of rules of typeface aesthetics, we have to craft the individual letters, ensuring unity of stroke width and spacing throughout the typeset. We then have to adjust the kerning (spacing) of character each combination and design ligatures (conjoined letters like ӕ, ﬁ and ĳ) when necessary. We have to examine the font in paragraph form, and ensure there’s an average ‘colour’ throughout the text, making final adjustments as necessary. For the most professional effects, we have to re-jiggle all the parameters in the first step whenever we make the font larger or smaller (you can see this by examining the fonts in Newsweek magazine very closely). Many large fonts look awful small, and vice versa.
Design buffs should read this, as should anyone who appreciates, or aspires to appreciate, the sheer beauty in life’s tiny, tiny details. ★★★★