We often see very complex visuals, built by our users, that include just about everything they intend to communicate, all in one place.
They’ve likely created the complexity either because it’s always been done that way, or it’s what they were asked to produce (not necessarily their fault), though data visualization best practices will tell us that too many dimensions of information in one place will all blend together into an aggregate.
Ever since we began including a section on data visualization in our formal training, we’ve only gotten one negative piece of feedback. The particular attendee suggested something like “I could have done without the content on how to make a PowerPoint slide.”
Every now and again during interactions with users, the OnePager support team gets wowed. A OnePager chart will pop onto the screen and make an instant positive impression. The OnePager team likes to call these users “OnePager Van Goghs.”
Nancy Childress is one such Van Gogh, and a 39-year veteran of the aviation industry.
Over the years, I have received countless requests from novice users to have me help them make their visuals look “pretty.” Pretty, as we know from studying data visualization best practices, has absolutely nothing to do with a good chart.
That said, after you’ve simplified your report, balanced your data ink, and eliminated any chart-junk, it can be a valuable exercise to attempt to achieve elegance in your visual design through some harmonic use of shapes, color, white space, font, etc.
Some people just have this gift: the artistic ability to use the elements they have available in a very eye-pleasing way. The rest of us need examples to follow, and for this, “The Big Book of Dashboards” provides plenty of inspiration.
In last week’s post on project cost tracking, we happened to use an animated GIF of a OnePager Gantt chart to illustrate how project costs changed over time. Since then, several customers have reached out asking how to do the same thing.
These animated .gif files can be inserted into a SharePoint Image Web Part, PowerPoint documents, and other office documents, to be included in your reporting.
This week’s post will show you step-by-step instructions on how to animate your OnePager Gantt chart, like this:
This week we’re posting the second video summarizing what we’ve learned to date from our research into Data Visualization and the cognitive psychology behind how we best absorb visual information. If you didn’t catch last week’s you can view that here.
We’ve done quite a bit of research over the last few years into data visualization best practices, and the cognitive psychology of how people best absorb visual information. This two-part series is to summarize what we’ve learned so far, in an effort to help our audience be better communicators, and to foster conversation around making good charts in the planning community.
One thing we’ve talked a lot about in the last year is that creating your visuals in planning (data visualization and plan communications) is a very specific area of study, and discipline.
photo credit: menshealth.com
Communications in business, generally, should be designed for optimal readability by their audience, to cut risk. Miscommunication in business is bad. This means we need to actually put some think-time and design-work into our plan-related communications.
If you and your organization haven’t circled back around just yet, to make sure you’re doing it right, this article might help give you some food for thought on how to retroactively initiate a design phase. Continue reading →