Acknowledging the audience

I know the BBC News Graphics team takes a lot of notice of its audience. And I know that in 2011 this set them apart from other newsroom graphics desks: at the Malofiej infographic conference that year no other news outlet mentioned metrics, audience or feedback with regard to the development of the graphics they produce, which begged me to ask the question “Does anyone know who actually looks at this stuff?”.

So I was delighted to hear that the NYT’s brilliant Amanda Cox in her keynote speech at OpenVis Conf was talking about – among other gems* – what their audience liked.

What she guessed they’d like
Surprise
A sense of comprehensiveness, even if it’s illusory
Goofy comparisons
A clear takeaway/message

What they actually liked
[The results of her analysis of their top 400 graphics]
development.really.hard
big.breaking.news.big.breaking.news.adjacent
useful
explicitly.emotional…atmospheric
surprise.reveal
comprehensive

Big hat tip to Erin Kissane’s write up of the keynote and I’m eagerly awaiting the video.

*Other gems about…

…process
“The best stories emerge as something crafted — something that takes advantage of the unique characteristics of the data in question”

…evoking the right response
That being the latter of “the handwavy, spectacle ‘wow’ vs. the ‘wow’ of connection and intimacy”

…design
“Not ultimately about typography and whitespace, but about empathy — about creating visualizations that readers can both understand and engage with emotionally”

…a future challenge
“What are you skipping or just not seeing because it doesn’t come for free to you in the tools that you’re using?”