I would like to create a graphical representation of a content audit I have done on an intranet.

My purpose is fairly simple: cut through the perception that there is much more content that is much more complex than actually exists. I currently have this data in an Excel spreadsheet including data such as document type, location, and other meta-data that could be used to categorize/group the data into meaningful segments.

I was reading an interesting article by Christopher Detzi and he used a graph/chart that caught my eye:

Image: which categories have the most content

This seemed like a good way of visualizing this data. Actual numbers combined with a clear visual representation. This type of visualization would help to give the dialogue a sense of proportionality.

I have one direct question: Does anyone know what the name of the above type of graph is (and how might one make it-just Photoshop or are there tools beyond Excel that are used in the industry?).

A supporting question: what other techniques have you used to serve this need?

2 Answers 2


It looks a lot like output from the Circle Packing technique. It is important to note that this is intended for hierarchical data (websites tend to be hierarchical, but you may decide on a different visualization depending on your meta-data)

If you are confident with Javascript, and want to automate its construction, have a look at D3.js (list of visual examples).

  • That's perfect--D3.js looks incredibly promising, thanks for turning me on to that. Also, thanks for the terminology. I hate not knowing the proper term for something. The infovis-wiki is also a new find for me--it looks like a great resource. Thank you! Nov 21, 2012 at 19:37

I might have a hard time understanding the significance of the scale. Do you have a graphic scaled to something like a book chapter that I understand? That way I can see how my model of smallish compares to the current amount of content.

Just set Xwords (or whatever) to pixels^2. Then multiply that ratio times each group of words to get the area in pixels squared. Solve for 'r' in 3.14*(r)^2 which is [(pixels)^2/3.14]^(1/2)

Now open photoshop, hit L for circular selection. Draw a circle holding shift and fill it with ctrl+backspace. Then keep it selected and hit ctrl+t to transform. Up top there's a box for width. Type in your 'r' times two as px. So, for example,

300 px

don't let it do 300% by default

Done. Good luck!

  • 1
    Probably easier in Adobe Illustrator if you're familiar with Illustrator. If not, Photoshop should serve you well. The other advantage of illustrator is you can pick any reasonable number for pixels^2, draw your graphics insanely big or small and then select all of them, hold shift, and size them back down to the perfect size for the screen display/page you're presenting on. Nov 21, 2012 at 1:10
  • I like the idea of using your formula to create shapes that are scaled. I can work with Illustrator to try this out--thank you for the suggestion! Nov 21, 2012 at 17:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.