Probably the most intriguing thing about today’s emerging interest in data is its horizontal impact across industries and disciplines. Data analytics, for instance, is being applied to academia, finance and healthcare alike. Data scientists are a conglomerate of studies and experiences from statistics to language arts, and this phenomenon is converging around all the new capabilities technology affords us. With its democratizing affect, data very well has a story to tell and we’re just now beginning to comprehend its tale.
One of the best ways data can convey its story is through visualization, and the recent rise in infographics is telling of this trend. Visual.ly has emerged alongside a new field of data visualization, building a network of designers, analysts, journalists and marketers around the countless stories behind the world’s propogating data sets. The startup was quick to build a set of tools around data visualization, launching DIY infographics at SXSW this year. Now Visual.ly is expanding its community of interconnected disciplines to support an exchange readily developing around data’s common denomenator.
Housing over 32k designers and thousands of analysts, journalists and marketers, Visual.ly is expanding its tool sets around design promotion with new social features. It’s a networked approach to talent discovery, hoping to streamline communication between designers and those looking to commission infographics. In the biggest update since launch, Visual.ly’s new social capacity will include an activity feed, options for direct messaging around a project, and notifications sent via email for comments, project availability and updates from those you follow.
As with most sites looking to increase engagement, collaboration features are a true value add to any budding community. This is something Visual.ly CEO Stew Langille is anxious to nurture, especially given the newness of data visualization as an industry all its own.
“What’s really interesting is collaboration amongst the design community, but also across disciplines, and I’d like to see more of that. We combine journalists with analysts, but there’s other ways to combine: marketers with designers; journalists with analysts; developers with designers. I’m interested in that cross-fix collaboration you don’t see a lot of,” Langille says. “We’ve looked at one discipline connecting to each other, but the future’s going to cross industries.”
The cross-industry factor is a recurring theme for data’s freshest fields, and it’s not to soon for Visual.ly to start thinking of the resulting economy that will sprout up at these crossroads. The community extension is only one step towards Visual.ly’s larger goal of opening up a marketplace where designers will be able to more easily facilitate collaboration and commissioned work. It’s a natural progression for a website that’s become synonymous with infographics in a relatively short period of time, establishing itself as an unmatched resource for infographics.
A strong marketplace will push out some interesting innovations in the specific field of data science, and make it more competitive as well. But this is where the strength in a cross-discipline approach lies: the best infographics are those that tell stories, Langille tells me. One of the biggest mistakes newbie infographic designers make, in fact, is not starting with a clear story. Collaborating with a cross-section of disciplines will help each user lean on the Visual.ly community to create that story. Data visualization is a crossbreed of varying interests and studies, and the Visual.ly network hopes to mimic that to empower its users.