Differences between enterprise data visualization and data journalism

October 4, 2019

Topic

Design  /  , ,

Toph Tucker used to make graphics for Bloomberg Businessweek. Now he does enterprise visualization for finance. He wrote about the major differences between the two jobs. On the iconic Bloomberg Terminal:

There are more things in Bloomberg than are dreamt of in your meetings. This was not the consensus when I worked at Bloomberg, but I now believe the Terminal is incredibly well-designed. Folks reply, “I get that it’s useful, but I don’t think that means it’s well-designed,” and I rejoin: No! It is well-designed in every way that matters, even visually! (Such nice high-contrast easy-to-spot color-coded inputs and affordances! So nice that it stretches rather than reflow critical content off the screen!) I want people to look, and recoil, and then remind themselves that Bloomberg is wiser than that disgust. If you haven’t been in the position it’s built for, it’s a deep-set Chesterton’s fence; only after you’ve understood it can you disagree with it.

On Excel:

One large hedge fund shows every new young software engineer a particular Excel spreadsheet that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year as part of their orientation, to beat the programmer’s “Excel isn’t serious” hubris out of them upon arrival. At this level, Excel is not interchangeable with Google Sheets or Apple Numbers or even Excel for Mac.

I love how there are these clusters of visualization that exist in the world, all making charts, but with completely different approaches and usage.