Data Visualisation Analysis – After Babylon

View the visualisation here: Project conceived by the Puff Puff Team

After Babylon - Section 1b

1. What story does it tell?

The story this article and visualisation aim to tell is the story of the world’s largest language families in their current circumstances – where and whom they’re spoken by.

After Babylon - Section 2
Languages in the world

2. How does it tell it?

This story is shown through numerous graphs and statistics, both visual and written, in a very clear and simplistic manner that everyone can understand. The maps pointing out the birthplace and origins of these languages visually tell a story of spacial location and where languages are most populated whereas the graphs point out how many languages are within a single family, how many people speak it and how many words were taken or given to another language.

3. Does it allow for different levels of interrogation that can be seen or used on the part of the reader? e.g. Can they drill down to discover more detail?

The user can discover more detail if they like by referring to the original source material where the data was collected from. The user can also interact with the world maps to show single specific areas or a combination should they wish to further study the graph. Alongside this, there are quotes, explanations and images (non-graphical) for further interrogation or understanding. The team that created this project, as well as faculties and teaching assistants, can be easily found and searched should the user desire to find out more.

4. Are you able to create multiple stories from it? If so, what are they?

Another story it creates is the story of human migration and immigration. As the second world graph shows, many languages have given and/or borrowed words from other languages, and the only way this would be possible if people who spoke that language traveled to another land to share their knowledge. From the same graph, we can also find out how languages are connected, the similarities between them and how wide-spread they are.

There is also an interesting aspect that can be interpreted and form the basis of further research – how even though a language family has many individual languages, it may not be widely spoken, which raises the question of “why not?”. Why is the Indo-European family the most spoken language in the world?

5. What can you say about the visual design – layout, colour, typography, visualisation style?

  • Simplistic and clean – easy to read and follow
  • Minimalist neutral colour palette kept throughout – makes easily identifiable sections + soft on the eyes
  • Colour coded key for each language family
  • A good level of interactivity – changing the reader to a user and keeping them engaged
  • Column graphs arranged from largest to smallest value sets creating a nice flow for reading
  • Animated graphics keep the reader engaged
  • Typeface is easily legible and suits the style of the page
  • Spacing is excellent – sections can be seen easily and focused on
  • Everything is centered on the page – reader only has to view one area of the page to get all the information

6. What improvements would you suggest?

  • Larger type size for improved readability.
  • Hierarchy in headings and subheadings in graphs could be made more apparent
  • Less use of sideways text to minimise head turning and dizziness
  • Better placement of headings on X and Y-axis – as of now it is difficult to decipher which heading belongs where
  • Less lines on the column graphs – it’s beginning to look like a grid instead
  • Switch the colours of the sub-text around – make percentages stand out against the dark grey background more
  • Make everything slightly bigger
  • World map graphs’ key could be put in alphabetical order or kept group (in the second map, German is separated from the other Indo-European languages for unknown reasons)


Girelli, S., Grotto, E., Lodi, P., Lupatini, D., & Patuzzo, E. (2013). After Retrieved 20 July 2016, from