Visualising the Viz for Social Good community

A public challenge based on their 2021 volunteer survey

Dec 2021

Viz for Social Good brings together volunteers to create informative and impactful data visualisations for organisations across the globe. They've worked for dozens of non-profits, helping them transform their data into impactful visualisations they can then use to promote social good in annual reports, websites, social media and more.

Their final challenge for 2021 was to visualise the volunteer community behind the viz. Having admired this group's work from the fringes for a while, I decided it was high time I contribute!

I'll go into story and workflow below but without further ado, here's what I made...

The ways we weave good viz

Picking a story in the data

The survey asked volunteers questions on a range of topics. These included demographics and educational history, lots about their work and skills and how much time they'd like to commit to VFSG.

The skills section appealed to me.

My personal journey in data visualisation has made me an unashamed generalist and I've been lucky enough to work with all of Gartner's top BI tools in production environments: Tableau, Power BI, Qlik Sense and ThoughtSpot.

The downside of spreading knowledge this thinly means it's hard to achieve expert status in any single tool - and I only latterly realised that's okay. Being a generalist made me completely tool agnostic and allowed me to take on a very wide range of analytics challenges.

What intrigued me about the survey results is how I'm not alone. The majority of visualisation professionals are on similar journeys, each unique and each fascinating. The community has a clear love of learning and self development and they write their own rules on how to get the job done.

That spirit is what I want to applaud in the final viz.

Making this visualisation

There were three distinct phases for this project.

The first was loading up the data into a viz tool and taking a first pass at finding insights worth sharing. I used Qlik Sense for this, mostly because it's a tool I use at Nationwide every day and where my skills are currently freshest.

Whilst there was lots to be interested in inside the survey results, it was at this point I locked onto the skills story.

I knew right away that a network chart was likely to dominate my final submission, so the second phase was shaping the data to create this type of visualisation.

I used Qlik Sense to load the survey results, do some first pass analysis and shape the data for a network chart

Shaping the data took more time than expected.

I wanted to create a dataset with a single row for each combination of tools. It took a little scripting using Qlik's built-in modelling tools and after several missteps (I found it very easy to create two rows per combination and had to do some head scratching to de-dupe them) I ended up with a suitable dataset.

If you'd like to create a similar chart from the survey results, my network dataset is available here.

The final phase was all about design and storytelling. My first step was to create a more polished network chart with Flourish Studio (see interactive below).

Finally I imported the network chart SVG into Figma to create the finished design. Colours and fonts were lifted straight from Viz for Social Good's website to ensure tight alignment with their brand.

Getting early feedback is always important so I released a shortened version on social media to gauge reaction. Thankfully the community said I was on the right track 🙂

I hope you enjoy the final visualisation. It meant a lot personally because it reminds me of own meanderings through data viz. There are always so many new directions to explore.

Who could ever get bored of this craft?

Have fun. Rx

Links: Artwork and network data available publicly on Google Drive