Wordle Beautiful Word Clouds

February 13, 2011
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Wordle is an interesting web application for producing pictures known as “word clouds.”

In a word cloud, text objects are associated with a number.  The bigger the number, the larger the word’s font in the picture. A common use would be to associate each word with its frequency in a text (for example, those found in the Kings James Bible) for a visual representation.

Wordle is an interesting web application for producing pictures known as “word clouds.”

In a word cloud, text objects are associated with a number.  The bigger the number, the larger the word’s font in the picture. A common use would be to associate each word with its frequency in a text (for example, those found in the Kings James Bible) for a visual representation.

As an example, here is a word cloud of my recent blog postings (I’m surprised I use the word “just” so much). Click on the picture for a bigger and dynamically generated version.
Wordle: BI-Software.Blogspot.com 001
In business intelligence applications, being able to visualize content is extremely important. You could stare at numbers all day long and not figure out a thing. But add some color and that might change–bad things in red and good things in green pop off the page at you.

Size is also useful to be able to easily compare data items. Often in reports, designers add a graphic bar whose length corresponds with the figure next to it. The bigger the number, the longer the bar (which could be colored as well to add a judgement of good or bad). These “peer graphics” help the user easily compare different objects on the report, such as Total Agricultural Revenue of Oklahoma versus that of New Jersey.

Visualization techniques of colors and relative size is already common in BI products, but a word cloud application such as Wordle could add an additional user interface feature.

I can see word clouds as front-ends for BI applications analyzing either text or data. Why limit data representation to columns and rows?

As a simple example, sales executives could view their geographic regions on the word cloud based on the size of each territory’s current revenue, achievement of quota percentage, or whatever measure he or she selects as the criterion.

For interactivity, we could activate hyperlink hotspots on each of the terms in the cloud and allow the user to drill down to BI details or drill to other related business topics.

Check out Wordle for more information as well as some beautiful examples stored in the public gallery.