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Data Visualization Design Best Practices Workshop

Download to read offline

Presentation shared at the #MA4Health Data Visualization workshop cofacilitated with my colleague Tahmid Chowdhury. Our aim was to empower participants with simple principles they can apply to any graph or chart to improve its effectiveness in communicating information, and to share resources on viz design relevant to global health practitioners.

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Data Visualization Design Best Practices Workshop

  1. 1. Amanda Makulec Program Manager & RME Associate John Snow, Inc. Passionate about how visualizing data effectively can empower people to make decisions.
  2. 2. This Summit has been all about collecting, sharing, quality-checking, streamlining, improving, visualizing data.
  3. 3. Data shows us diversity.
  4. 4. Effective visualizations help stakeholders use that information for decisionmaking.
  5. 5. Designing visualizations that communicate clearly doesn’t have to be complicated.
  6. 6. A basic understanding of design best practices are all you need to get started.
  7. 7. Disseminate & share Build your chart Find the story in your data Identify your audience & context START
  8. 8. Who is your audience?
  9. 9. On the most common visualization mistakes “Time isn’t adequately spent on is just what is the question that you’re trying to answer and what does your audience need to know?” Cole Naussbaumer From:
  10. 10. Different stakeholders have different data needs.
  11. 11. Consider your stakeholders’ literacy, numeric literacy, and what data they need to make decisions.
  12. 12. For more complex data analysis tools like dashboards, it is especially important to engage your end user to understand their needs. Image credit: Beth Kanter
  13. 13. Identify the story you want to tell & consider additional available data.
  14. 14. The most important question in visualization: Read more at: Stephanie Evergreen Evergreen Data What’s your point?
  15. 15. Start with the data you’ve collected.
  16. 16. Then, identify additional data available that would help you tell your story better visually.
  17. 17. Edit your data as necessary to tell your story. e.g. create percentages from raw numbers, check quality, etc.
  18. 18. Design your chart or graph
  19. 19. Consider the kind of data story you have. Distribution Part to Whole Correlation Time Series Compare Categories Ranking Image credit: Column Five Media’s Visage Data Visualization 101
  20. 20. Consult with great resources for choosing the right chart type. The Graphic Continuum Jon Schwabish & Severino Rebecca Chart Chooser Juice Analytics Data Visualization 101 Visage | 101-design-charts-graphs/l
  21. 21. And consider consulting your colleagues M&E Advisor Graphic Designer Technical Expert Communications Expert
  22. 22. Plan for how you’ll share your visualization when it’s complete.
  23. 23. In “about five to eight seconds, someone’s going to make the decision of do they devote any more time to looking at what you’ve got in front of them or do they move on to the next thing.” Cole Naussbaumer From:
  24. 24. Simple design principles or “leveraging our lizard brain”
  25. 25. “What really makes a chart effective are font, color, and design, and the depth of critical analysis displayed.” Dona M. Wong The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics
  26. 26. Decluttering Consider removing: • Border • Grid lines • Background shading • Axis (if you plan on labeling the data points) Does it enhance or distract from your data story?
  27. 27. Title & labels Are you clear and succinct (6-12 words), telling your reader the key takeaway & including labels that are essential? Recommendation of 6-12 words from the Data Visualization Checklist
  28. 28. Color To add emphasis Or to create the confusing effect of Skittles on a page.
  29. 29. Practice with existing graphs and charts How could these charts communicate more effectively?
  30. 30. District 1 District 2 District 3 32% District 4 24% District 5 Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 District 4 was the only district where coverage declined during the five year project.
  31. 31. Change in BMI status of women 20-49 years from 1980 to 2008 by region 1980 2008 Data table from: Black RE, Victora CG, Walker SP, Bhutta ZA, Christian P, de Onis M, Ezzati M, Grantham-McGregor S, Katz J, Martorell R, Uauy R. Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries” The Lancet 2013; (06 June 2013) DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60937-X.
  32. 32. The proportion of women who are overweight has increased in low and middle income countries.
  33. 33. Graph from
  34. 34. Graph from
  35. 35. Use of implants and injectables has increased among women using family planning.
  36. 36. The proportion of family planning users choosing implants & injectables has increased.
  37. 37. About our activity today
  38. 38. A few resources for building your data viz skills People & their blogs: Cole Naussbaumer | Storytelling with Data Alberto Cairo | The Functional Art Stephanie Evergreen | Evergreen Data Jon Schwabish | Policy Viz Ann K. Emery | Emery Evaluation Favorite posts & resources from these experts: Decluttered Excel Templates from Cole Excel Tutorials (video!) from Ann Remakes of Visualizations from Jon Communities around data viz: Data Viz for Development at HelpMeViz to crowdsource data viz expertise Two online viz tools I recommend: Piktochart (great for making icon matrices) Visage Books worth buying: On basic visualization principles: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics | Dona M. Wong Show Me the Numbers | Stephen Few On designing presentations with visual content (including graphs & charts): Slideology | Nancy Duarte
  39. 39. For the simple graph icons from the Visage Data Visualization 101 eBook and allowing us to share their eBook during our activity today. Visage was born out of Column Five, an industry-leading infographics and visual content agency with offices in Irvine, CA and Brooklyn, NY. Visage is a simple design platform that enables content marketers to create beautiful, on-brand data visualizations and visual content. Our leadership team has been working together for more than 5 years, and our focus is to help companies use visualization and great design to communicate more effectively. Thanks to… For providing the space & time to host this workshop. The Measurement and Accountability for Results in Health (#MA4Helath) Summit brought together world leaders to construct a common agenda to improve and sustain country measurement and accountability systems for health results in the post-2015 era. Our thanks to USAID, WHO, and the World Bank who lead the organization and coordination of the event.
  40. 40. Amanda Makulec @abmakulec | More resources on Slideshare CONNECT
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Presentation shared at the #MA4Health Data Visualization workshop cofacilitated with my colleague Tahmid Chowdhury. Our aim was to empower participants with simple principles they can apply to any graph or chart to improve its effectiveness in communicating information, and to share resources on viz design relevant to global health practitioners.


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