Wednesday wisdom - design essentials from Caroline Beavon

by Adi McCrea

Much of the training here at Data School HQ involves becoming proficient, and then expert, in software tools to process and display data.

Getting immersed in the technical detail of new tools can make it tough to step back and see the broader picture. Luckily, we have some tricks to ensure that the tail doesn’t end up wagging the dog. Today, we had help from freelance infographic designer Caroline Beavon. Check her out here.

The key things that I’ll be adding to my viz locker are these:

  • The big 3. I can keep referring back to these 3 elements when making design or data decisions. Is this decision supporting my core message? Does my audience have all that they need to understand my core message? Do I need to edit or supplement my existing data to communicate my core message?


  • If in doubt, sketch it out. Commit initial ideas to paper. Basic shapes, rough ideas, rubbish ideas, great ideas. Getting it all down on paper helps to focus the mind on what really is great and what will not work for this particular viz.




  • The software tool comes last. Flesh out the initial ideas, use post-it notes to mock-up a data viz or dashboard, start with a single colour and build up (rather than starting with a full colour palette and trying to strip it back).





These are going to be key for me in keeping a hold of my ideas and directing them with purpose. Thanks Caroline!

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