The TTEITI Project: why should I care?

In October 2019 TEITI published a story on the challenges in the oil and gas industry in Trinidad and Tobago.  I developed all the illustrations and (interactive) datavisualisations. It was a fun, interesting and slightly stressful project and I will share my experience in a couple of blogs.

The briefing

So on the 7th of august I got an e-mail from Kerry Peters if I wanted to work on a project for TTEITI. He would write a compelling story based on the original TTEITI report and I would make the story visually appealing. He also wrote that they wanted to publish the story in a tool called Shorthand. This looked like an easy to use tool, so I agreed to using that as our medium. He also sent me the draft report he would base the story on, which included all the information and data.

Why should I care?

So you might think I had all the information I needed to start my part of the project: making things visual. At least that was what Kerry expected, but I explained him that if you want to tell a story with data, you need to know what the angle is. Hanspeter Pfister, a Harvard professor once explained it like this:

“The information is the ‘what’, the message is the ‘so what’ - the ‘why should I care?’”

To illustrate this, take a look at this barchart:
This is a barchart with information, but it doesn't tell a story yet. This barchart is clearly the 'what'.
If you add a title, some color and an image, the same data will tell a story, in this case about the Dutch love for 'kroket':

And if you change those elements, you can highlight a different story:

So I had received the 'what' but what I needed was at least some more information on what Kerry was focussing on: the 'why should I care?'

Look and feel

I figured I could at least start with developing a general look and feel. I made a sketch of the general structure of the page:

I also worked on a color scheme and some basic icons. I wanted the colours to reflect the different products, so I chose brown for oil, blue for gas and yellow for minerals. I also wanted a positive and a negative red/pink and green color that matched this (my apologies for the color blind, I tried to double encode so you can still understand :-)). And dark blue was a nice neutral dark color to balance these bright colours.
To try this out I made some graphs based on the data from the report:
Another thing I could start with, was trying out the Shorthand tool. Although I needed Kerry to make a project page, I could at least generate an account and start exploring the Shorthand environment. In my next blog I will share my experience with the shorthand tool!