Beth Schultz

5 Tips for Working With Data Visualization

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Noreen Seebacher
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Interesting comments
Noreen Seebacher   5/11/2013 1:43:23 AM
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Very keen insights from someone with day to day experience with visualizations. Does anyone have experiences to support his suggestions?

WaqasAltaf
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Understanding the audience
WaqasAltaf   5/12/2013 12:07:18 AM
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As said in the blog, it is important to understand that whether the audience is that which needs to understand the nitty gritties of the topic concerned or needs final numbers and facts so that they are able to take a decision. If the audience is the former type, then analytics in the form of visuals can help else a text-based summary might suffice. In a board of directors meeting for e.g. you dont want to hear from a director "we are not interested in the details, all we need to know is that  the project is to feasible or not so just give us a brief idea" hence making analytics in the form visuals completely unnecessary.

Noreen Seebacher
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Re: Understanding the audience
Noreen Seebacher   5/12/2013 8:00:14 AM
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But Wagas even in your latter example, wouldn't visuals support and enhance the details provided?

WaqasAltaf
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Re: Understanding the audience
WaqasAltaf   5/14/2013 10:32:58 AM
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Noreen/Beth

Yes visuals can support and enhance details but at the highest level that is the board of directors, details might not be required. People might suffice with merely the summary in a bullet form.

kq4ym
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Re: Understanding the audience
kq4ym   5/12/2013 8:34:54 AM
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I would certainly agree to be aware that not all audiences want the visuals. I've seen way too many presentations that could have more easily be presented in text. After all, a visual is a summary in a lot of cases, and what is better to summarize than language.

BethSchultz
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Re: Understanding the audience
BethSchultz   5/14/2013 10:03:36 AM
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@kq4ym -- I think, too, it depends on the purpose, as Cavaretta said. If you want your audience to take away the information and really think about it later, text might be better remembered. Although he does say his team will use good infographics, too -- the type using lots of facts and text as well, a la the New York Times (though he says his team is not nearly as good as the NYT designers!). So static visualizations with text definitely have a place.

 

BethSchultz
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Re: Understanding the audience
BethSchultz   5/14/2013 10:10:20 AM
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@Waqas, I second Noreen's question -- wouldn't visuals help telling the big picture? And I'll also toss in, as an aside really, wouldn't it be awfully irresponsible of a board to skimp over the details?!

WaqasAltaf
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Re: Understanding the audience
WaqasAltaf   5/14/2013 10:33:31 AM
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Beth

Board of directors of a big organization should not be interested in too much details as the senior management responsible for the project would have done its homework and would have then put up the project case for approval. But you are right in a way too; some board members might be curious because of the investment involved therein and may want to look at the details making visuals of much assistance

BethSchultz
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Re: Understanding the audience
BethSchultz   5/14/2013 11:02:11 AM
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Fair enough -- as long as they're providing appropriate oversight! Presenting visually or not, they best be taking a look at the basic facts of the business decisions.

tomsg
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Worry
tomsg   5/13/2013 8:19:26 AM
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For some reason when I just see a visualization, I worry about assumptions and filters that may have helped make a point rather than just present the facts. I don't mind a visualization, but I always want the underlying data and a list of assumptions.

Noreen Seebacher
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Re: Worry
Noreen Seebacher   5/13/2013 10:27:07 AM
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tomsg, are there any visualizations that you found especially accurate or especially troublesome?

BethSchultz
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Re: Worry
BethSchultz   5/14/2013 10:06:55 AM
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@tomsg, you make a good point about wanting to know the assumptions. I don't know too much about other data visualization tools, but I do know that SAS Visual Analytics provides pop-ups that explain what the visualization means, assumptions, algorithms used, etc.

Jeff
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What I like about this post
Jeff   5/13/2013 10:45:51 AM
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I like that he says don't do anything fancy for the big meeting.  But I would say have the fancy stuff not only ready to show...but memorized.

I also like the idea of letting someone proof read your presentation...like and editor or an informal code review.

Noreen Seebacher
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Re: What I like about this post
Noreen Seebacher   5/13/2013 10:56:49 PM
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Good way of protecting yourself Jeff

BethSchultz
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Re: What I like about this post
BethSchultz   5/14/2013 10:08:38 AM
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I would think it'd also make sense to do a run-through of a presentation, including showing the visualizations that would be presented, prior to the business meeting. Do you think that happens often... or often enough?

Jeff
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Re: What I like about this post
Jeff   5/14/2013 3:00:19 PM
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This is rare.  Most people wing it.  I can't but that is just me.  I guess at that level though...if you don't know how to speak, you don't belong anyway.

BethSchultz
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Re: What I like about this post
BethSchultz   5/14/2013 4:19:38 PM
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@Jeff, "most people wing it" -- maybe they ought to stop, given how important much of the decision making is sure to be that's based on their data/analytics presentations!

Jeff
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Re: What I like about this post
Jeff   5/14/2013 6:13:36 PM
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I totally agree, but that has been my experience at small and mid-size companies, maybe it's better at the big guys.  Maybe I'm ready to move to the big guys.

SethBreedlove
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Re: What I like about this post
SethBreedlove   5/14/2013 8:25:29 PM
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Re: "Know your audience.".  Once, I've worked with one manager who didn't like data.  We were working on a project that required end-user feedback.  The manager did not want to listen to that feedback, but rather design what he felt the requirements should be, then go to the users to see what they thought of it.  Fine, if you aren't talking about months of work and millions of dollars.


One great thing about good presentations and good data visualiation, it helps to build support and build the consensus needed to overcome narcissism. 

Apple kept a big secret for a long time.  It kept the image of telling consumers what they wanted, vs. doing research.  Then the truth came out, they spent millions and millions on consumer research. 

Noreen Seebacher
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Re: What I like about this post
Noreen Seebacher   5/15/2013 8:04:34 AM
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Apples genius was selectively using that research to design the products users would buy. Contrast that with how Edsel Ford tried to put everything he learned in one product.

BethSchultz
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Re: What I like about this post
BethSchultz   5/15/2013 9:37:14 AM
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Or advocate change where you are? (I know, easy for me to say as an outsider!)

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