Blog Image and Data Visualization Challenge

Good morning! Join me for coffee?

I have a new, personal challenge for this week – and I’m inviting you all to join me. The challenge is to add visual appeal and interest to my communications (not just in blogging). It’s no secret that I like words. I have nothing against charts and pretty pictures – in fact, photography and art are creative outlets I happily dabble in – but that’s not where my talents lie.

I think I can change that.

I need to change that. So here’s the challenge I’ve set for myself, this week:

  1. Add visual appeal to the blog. Create an original default image for each Category used on this blog. Now that I have a nifty plug-in that lets me use a different default image for each Category, I should feed it some fresh photos. I’m not going to say, “awesome images” or “the perfect image,” but something appropriate and eye-catching would be a good start.
  2. Do a better job of communicating data visually. Learn how to present data, using Excel charts, more clearly. It’s no secret that I’m math challenged and may be the only person on the planet who preferred story problems to things involving numbers, lines, graph paper, or shapes. I failed my first “reading readiness” test – despite being the only kid in class who could read – because it was a pattern matching test and my brain just froze and went, “Huh? What do circles, squares, and triangles have to do with reading?” (You math geeks can laugh, but I blew all your statistical theories – I mean, what are the odds of getting 29 out of 30 wrong?)

Now, my challenge for you: Join me (in #1 and #2); or, for you visually-oriented folks, teach me to speak your language or point me in the right direction (for #2 up there).

I do not need or want links to stock image or free clip-art sites. The challenge is to create new, original images.

I do not need or want basic tutorials on “how to use Excel” or “how to use Tableau” – but rather “how to create [type of chart] and why that type of chart instead of a different one.” I’m guessing that’s not really a stupid question, since Excel normally suggests several options based on the data. But I want a better understanding of those options, and how to choose the best one.

The deadline for #1 is one new image daily until all Categories have a different default image. Come back here and leave a link to show me what you’ve added!

The deadline for #2 is March 1. If you’re as challenged as I am, and joining me, learn something – demonstrate it on your own blog, and leave me a link in the comments, here. If you’re sharing your knowledge, do it in comments or on your own blog and leave a link here.




Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at For more information on her children's books, please visit
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20 thoughts on “Blog Image and Data Visualization Challenge”

  1. I used to not really pay attention to pictures on my blog, but then I realized they are truly of the utmost importance and since then, I have gotten so much more traffic!!

    1. I always feel like Dr. McCoy on Star Trek: “Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer. Not a graphic artist.” *sigh* But it’s time to call a truce. I used to be an auditory learner, a creative, right-brain dominant individual; lately, I’m almost 50-50 right/left brained, slightly ADD, and lean towards visual-kinesthetic learning styles. People change, and we need all types in the world. I just figure it’s time I learn how to communicate with the ones I’ve largely been ignoring. 😉
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Blog Image and Data Visualization ChallengeMy Profile

  2. We started paying more attention to the photos we used and even invested in better equipment. It has made a huge difference!

  3. So, here’s my challenge back, Holly….
    I spend X hours a week writing 5 blogs, where X ranges from 3 hours to 6 hours. If I were to develop (OK, I generally do) graphics and charts for each of these blogs, that would make my time allotment creep up to 5 to 10 hours a week. That’s a loss of some pretty significant income. (Come on, I’m old. I don’t want to work 75 hours a week anymore.)
    So, the trick is to balance the time spent with the graphic addition one wants- which means I limit myself to one or two graphics per week of blogs.
    How do you balance the time and the desire for excellence?
    Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. recently posted…Part-time hell?My Profile

    1. 1) I have found that I struggle to maintain ONE blog. I have more, but most suffer from benign (and not so benign) neglect.
      2) How are you measuring “lost income”? Are you doing this on time you might otherwise be working billable hours doing something else? Or are you doing it to feed your data-driven perfectionist’s interests? It’s usually a choice. If you’re talking blogging for work or business, calculate the ROI. If it’s negative, stop doing it.
      3) Laziness and time saving are my reason for wanting default images. They do make a shared post more eye-catching, and can convey some visual info (about the general category). But I also want to stretch my skills and stop avoiding those graphics just because my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m not that old. I’m still trainable. 😉
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Blog Image and Data Visualization ChallengeMy Profile

  4. I’m going to keep the default category image in mind as my new website/blog is developed and I move everything to Worldpress. Thanks for that suggestion, Holly.

    I’m trying to put more photos and/or graphics into my posts and those over at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog this year, too. I think it helps keep readers on the page, even if there are only one or two pictures. I plan to use mostly photos I’ve taken myself.
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…Schedules, changes, guest posts, and blog book toursMy Profile

  5. I’m exhausted – and all I did was READ your To Do list.

    I used to use to make quick quote images to stick into my blog at the beginning of each post, and now use – free versions – because they tell me an image helps posts (don’t see any great effect, but hey, why not?).

    When I need more than that, I have images from my camera that I upload, or create something I need in Pixelmator (Mac photoshop easy clone). Not very visually oriented – it all takes time.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…Amazon PRIME plus a Kindle equals a free book a monthMy Profile

  6. Hey HollyJahangiri,

    Thanks a lot for inviting us over the coffee. I am a coffee freak and love to work while having a cup of coffee.

    Well, coming to the topic, I definitely agree with you that presenting the data in pictorial and graphical format make the information more interactive and appealing.

    I mostly use tableau software for creating a grouped bar chart. A grouped bar chart shows comparisons vividly and in a way that can be taken in at a glance.

    You can also consider this chart for your visualisation.

    Cheers 🙂

    1. A fellow coffee freak! Welcome. Do you know of a good reference that describes various types of charts and the types of data they are best suited to show? I use Tableau, as well – and am now learning of some of the more advanced features. But I’m not always certain what the best visualization is for the data (I tend to prefer the raw data and text). I’d like to get better at it!
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Monkeying AroundMy Profile

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