A Tag Cloud on the Front Page

We only get the Vancouver Sun on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (and we still can’t find time to read it), so I missed the tag cloud on the cover of yesterday’s paper. Derek didn’t:

The tag cloud (or “weighted list”) is a hip-and-happenin’ visual design trend that’s been around for more than a decade, but which has taken off since its appearance in 2004 at Flickr.

I was surprised to see a similar weighted list appearing on the cover of the Vancouver Sun today: larger, bolder type represents greater increases in property values for different Vancouver-area municipalities.

There’s a small explanation at the top (“The bigger the letters, the larger the growth in property values for 2006”), but otherwise it’s just there, and does its job well.

They used different fonts for the different sizes, but other than that, yep, it’s a tag cloud. Hurray for adoption of new information visualization techniques.

5 comments

  1. If a poor neighbourhood doubled in value and the house prices went from 100,000 to 200,000 would the type face be the same size as one where the house prices went from 1,000,000 to 1,100,000. Same amount. Different percentage.

    As a boss of mine once said: always use graphs — everybody will read into it what they want; never use numbers — everybody will understand.

  2. I was walking by the newsboxes that day when suddenly a giant “ANMORE” caught my eye. Too bad they rendered the tag cloud stupid by using different fonts.

  3. I’m guessing that the sizes are based on percentage changes, not absolute values. And I wouldn’t treat a tag cloud as a comprehensive piece of information design: it’s supposed to give you a quick picture of a single variable.

    The Sun did use actual numbers (and graphs) inside, but I don’t think they would have been as effective on the front page — if it had been a bunch of bar graphs (which would have been informative), neither Darren nor I might have blogged about it, at least.

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