Small is the New Big: Lessons in Visual Economy

Location: Mission City B5
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While the majority of charts were designed to handle a variety of data without regard for implementation, there is a certain efficiency and novelty of presenting data in a very succinct way. By designing a presentation method restricted to specific data points, we can realize an economy of space and interface. It’s often practical to use the standard charts that are tried and true, but by eschewing the norms we can create visualizations that maximize interface real estate and provide a succinct view of our data.

There are many cases when addressing data visualization for a small space is beneficial – mobile accessibility, data journalism, and high risk/situational awareness applications to name a few. By considering the goals of the visualization and finely honing our designs, we can create highly useful interfaces that maximize comprehension and elevate judgment.

The following aspects of data-specific visualizations will be covered:

  • Telling smaller stories with the data
  • Encapsulating the design by choosing related data
  • Designing for multiple encodings
  • Abstracting visual context for brevity
  • Working within constraints
  • Goal-based visualization
  • Small multiples

I will use personal and industry examples to demonstrate the points above. By using these methods, attendees gain insight into how to create succinct views of their data.

Photo of kim rees

kim rees


Kim Rees is a founding partner of Periscopic, an award-winning information visualization firm. Their work has been featured in several online and print publications, including CommArts’ Interactive Annual, The Information Design Sourcebook, Adobe Success Stories, CommArts Insights,,, and numerous websites, blogs, and regional media outlets. Periscopic’s body of work was recently nominated for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards.

Kim is a prominent individual in the information visualization community. She has published papers in Parsons Journal of Information Mapping, was an award winner in the VAST 2010 Challenge, and is a guest blogger for Kim has been featured on CommArts Insights and has been invited to speak at several industry events including the Tableau Software Conference, WebVisions, CERF Biennial Conference, and Portland Data Visualization, among others. Recently she has also been an advisor on an upcoming documentary film and is the Technical Editor for a forthcoming data visualization book. Kim received her BA in Computer Science from New York University.


  • Thomson Reuters
  • EMC Data Computing Division
  • EnterpriseDB
  • Microsoft
  • Gnip
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • IBM
  • Windows Azure MarketPlace DataMarket
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Aster Data
  • Cloudera
  • Clustrix
  • DataStax, Inc. (formerly Riptano, Inc.)
  • Digital Reasoning Systems
  • Heritage Provider Network
  • Impetus
  • Jaspersoft
  • Karmasphere
  • LinkedIn
  • MarkLogic
  • Pentaho
  • Pervasive
  • Revolution Analytics
  • Splunk
  • Urban Mapping
  • Wolfram|Alpha
  • Esri
  • ParAccel
  • Tableau Software

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