Review: “The Big Book of Dashboards”

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.

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Animated Gantt Charts

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:

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New Video: Best Practices – Data Visualization in Planning Part 1

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.

We hope you find it useful!

If this piques your interest, here is some continuing ed.

Data Visualization – Suggestions for A Fresh Design Phase

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

Exploratory vs. Explanatory Visuals in Planning

I love this topic because it elicits a higher level of thought around designing the data visualizations we need in planning, in a way that my simple mind can consume.

In her book “Storytelling with Data,” Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic points out very early on that there are really two kinds of data visualizations: exploratory and explanatory. Exploratory visuals are created to help us figure out what the important things are within the data…they have an analytical purpose. Explanatory visuals are meant only to show us the important things…there should be little to no intended analytical value. Continue reading

Size Matters

…Well, in plan communications and Gantt charts, it does.

Size, when used as an attribute to denote meaning in data visualization, will likely force our brain to look at the largest items first. In her book “Storytelling with Data,” Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic tells us that “Relative size denotes relative importance.”

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