So finally an article about my favourite band that connects to what I do for a living. For those who know me I’m a HUGE Floyd fan and though I’m not old enough to have seen them live I have watched Roger Waters perform five times and even flew all the way to Los Angeles from Brisbane to see David Gilmour perform at the Hollywood Bowl.
For me their music is timeless and something I can relate to at a much deeper level. Add to that their philosophical lyrics and the stunning artwork and you’ve got yourself a perfect band.
So what does all of this have to do with data visualisation. Quite a lot actually. From the way they structured their songs to their impressive artwork you can learn a lot from them.
The Floyd not only wrote a lot about space (inner space and not outer space as commonly attributed to them ) they also used a lot of spaces between notes. And it is those spaces which were hallmarks of their songs (the long space before Speak to me starts, the space between the “pings” in Echoes, the space before those four magical notes in Shine On )
Having enough white space between visuals is the hallmark of a great design. Instead of using borders around visuals, remove them and increase the white space to give your dashboard a much cleaner look. Do not be tempted to fill every nook and cranny of a dashboard with a visual. Beware of cognitive load and make white space your friend.
Attention to detail
Pink Floyd were perfectionists and left no stone unturned in order to get the right sound on their albums. Before they released Dark Side of the Moon they were on the road for two years playing it live and perfecting their sound. The rest is history with Dark Side turning out to be one of the highest selling albums of all times and an album which each generation can relate to.
You need to apply the same level of detail if you wish to produce a memorable visual. Never be happy with your first draft. Try different combinations of visuals, layouts, fonts and show it to your team before finalising. Always provide context and make sure to clarify any information you provide.
Almost all Floyd albums had iconic album covers with the Dark Side cover being the most famous cover of them all. It was a very simplistic design which the band wanted. The idea of the prism was to showcase and celebrate the light shows which were a big part of Floyd concerts.
Choose a striking layout which reflects your brand and/or your personality. Keep it simple and elegant but bold enough to draw attention. Play around with different colors and patterns and choose that combination which best reflects the work that you are producing.
Don’t develop for the masses
The Floyd produced songs which lasted more minutes than entire albums produced by other bands. Their longest song Echoes lasts 23 minutes while three songs off Animals span more than ten minutes each. They weren’t radio friendly songs but the Floyd didn’t care as they wanted to write songs which they wanted to listen to.
It’s very tempting to design the same bar charts as everyone as it’s easy to do. But be creative and unleash your inner potential by being true to your self. Your personality should show in the work that you produce. Don’t be happy with mediocrity. Create your piece of art because you want to do it not because someone else wants you to.
LEAVE A LEGACY
Rick Wakeman from the band Yes had this to say
When the first list was being drawn up in the rock and roll book of Genesis, it would have been: In the beginning, God created Pink Floyd.
The Floyd leave a legacy of blockbuster albums which topped the charts and their music has spanned six decades. They have inspired countless people through their music with each generation re discovering their music and still finding relevance. In a nutshell Pink Floyd’s music will live forever.
Always think of your legacy when you preform any work. Be passionate about your job and a thorough perfectionist. The work that you preform should be talked about for years to come and should inspire people from every walk of life. Be fearless, be creative and above all love what you do and you will be assured of your legacy
This article was first published on LinkedIn by the author on 20/02/2020