“Allowing artist-illustrators to control the design and content of statistical graphics is almost like allowing typographers to control the content, style and editing of prose.”
– Edward Tufte
I’ve been re-reading Tufte recently, and this comment jumped out at me. Although the subject is data visualisation, the same is true for any kind of visualisation. If you’re going to create a meaningful representation of concepts, then you have to understand what those concepts mean. And if you’re going to understand what they mean, then you’re going to need either a lot of prior knowledge or the ability to ask a lot of really good questions.
Beauty is important, but if your intention is to communicate then it is not a worthy substitute for meaning.