What we can not unsee

Recently I read a really interesting post. The post was about ‘when we add context or description to certain situations, after that we are to experience same situation accordingly’. This article also describes how our brain works when we look at data visualizations and their information designs.

Now look at the next examples.

Chart 1: Customer count over time


Chart 2:  Quantity sold over time


Chart 3: Quantity sold over time (for one customer only)


But what if I would tell you something different regarding these charts?

I would tell you guys:

  • Chart 1 is a somewhat old and rusty Chevrolet Caprice from 1988
  • Chart 2 is a whale surfacing to take a breath
  • And chart 3 is a plane flying to the left

Now, not all these examples might be as good as I’d hoped for, but probably one of those examples after my new explanation will give you this ‘Can not unsee‘ experience.

I think data visualization and information design really should take into account on how our brains actually work. Without these considerations, we might fall short on communicating our data clearly enough.

So, be thorough in what you design and how you explain to your users what they are looking at and how to interpret. This should already be half of your work that goes into designing your pieces of information.


Have fun and happy designing!