Periodic Table of Visualization Methods – In a word, WOW!

Tool: Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Time to Use: Less than 10 minutes

Purpose: Categorize and explore visualization methods

Description: Developed by Ralph Lengler and Martin Eppler at the University of Lugano in Switzerland, the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods is useful, fun, and thought-provoking. Lengler and Eppler have organized visualization methods into six categories:

  • Data Visualization
  • Information Visualization
  • Concept Visualization
  • Strategy Visualization
  • Metaphor Visualization
  • Compound Visualization

Within each category, they have compiled a library of visualization examples from tables and pie charts (under data visualization) to value chains and spray diagrams (under strategy visualization) – around 100 in all. Lengler and Eppler have mapped the examples to a semblance of a periodic table reminiscent of those explored in high school chemistry.

The chart itself, with its attractive layout is a site to behold. But the fun truly begins once you begin interacting with it. When rolled over, each cell pops up an example of the visualization method. For me, it has helped as a frequent reminder to think outside of the tried and true and explore the range of options available for visualization.

Notes: To learn more, be sure also to read Lengler and Eppler’s academic paper describing the development of the table at http://ow.ly/wk7d.

2 thoughts on “Periodic Table of Visualization Methods – In a word, WOW!

  1. This has been around for a while, but it is terrific. It really opens your eyes to all of the different ways data can be represented.

    • ‘All’? slowdown. The chart is great at documenting the common methods of visualization. But of course, visualization has never been correctly defined so visualizations are naturally omitted. ‘Periodic’ implies that you have defined everything.

      This does not take away from the fact that the chart is great for a reference .

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