BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Jul 31, 2015

Demo Day: Improving Data Visualization Effectiveness

Meagan Longoria Posted by Meagan Longoria

Data visualization quality is important for decision makers and data professionals, especially now in this world of ever increasing sizes and varieties of data. We need to be able to use our data to find the information that helps us make better decisions as quickly and easily as possible. Data Viz Evaluation

Stephen Few describes data visualization as “the graphical display of abstract information for two purposes: sense-making (also called data analysis) and communication.” (1)

Although data visualization is a creative endeavor, it should have goals and tests just like building a database or performing data processing. Many organizations struggle with creating quality data visualizations because they lack criteria by which to evaluate them.

In this Demo Day video, I present my four technology independent criteria for evaluating the quality of a data visualization:

  1. Information Quality – Do we have the right data for the intended audience? Is there sufficient information for the consumer to gain valid insights and make informed decisions?
  2. Effectiveness – Is the layout and chart design such that consumers notice the most critical information first? Is the visualization free of distracting clutter so consumers can focus on the message we want to communicate?
  3. Visual Appeal – Is the data visualization aesthetically pleasing in a way that does not undermine its ability to communicate insights?
  4. Usage – Are people actually viewing the visualization? Do they understand the message that we were trying to communicate?

In addition, you’ll see some quick tips to improve chart effectiveness demonstrated using Tableau. We must acknowledge we are all busy and surrounded by an abundance of information. More effective data visualization enables our audience to more quickly understand the information presented and make better informed decisions.

Watch the video below:

If you are interested in trying Tableau for yourself, click here for a free 14-day trial of Tableau Desktop.

(1) Few, Stephen (2014): Data Visualization for Human Perception. In: Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). "The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.". Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation. Available online at https://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/data_visualization_for_human_perception.html

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Meagan Longoria

About The Author

Meagan Longoria

Meagan is a Solution Architect and Microsoft MVP who helps people understand their data and use it to learn and make good decisions. She works mostly with the Microsoft BI stack, doing everything from data modeling and data warehouse design to Analysis Services models to data visualization. From time to time, Meagan also dabbles in Tableau. Check out my blog at https://datasavvy.me for interesting links, knowledge, and experiences with BI tools and concepts.