Closing Data’s Last-Mile Gap: Visualizing For Impact!

For each of the 17 examples we evaluate, Ill share an alternative variation I created. I invite you to play along and share your version of any of the examples. Ill include them to the post, and credit you.

A lot of tough work has actually gone into collecting the requirements and execution. An extra huge financial investment was made in the effort to carry out ninja like analysis. The end result was a collection trends and insights.

Last-mile gaps exist at all our business. It is not important where this 2018 analysis came from.

Today, one more appearance at this pernicious problem and a collection of concepts you can use to close the last-mile gap that exists at your work.

Your most significant asset in closing that last-mile space is the way you provide the data.

The last-mile space is the range in between your trends and getting a prominent business leader to take action.

I worry about datas last-mile space a lot. As an enthusiast of data-influenced decision making, perhaps you stress as well.

On a slide. This presentation of the data will decide if your insights and patterns are understood, accepted and inferences drawn as to what action must be taken.

For our lessons today, Im utilizing an example that originates from analysis delivered by the collective efforts of a top American university, a leading 5 worldwide speaking with company, and a significant market association. The analysis is publicly offered.

With the benefits so obvious, you may think of that the last-mile space is not an extensively widespread problem. I see reports, control panels, discussions with wide spaces.

If your data presentation is great, you reduce the last-mile space. If your data presentation is confusing/complex/wild, all the effort that entered into gathering the data, evaluating it, digging for context will all be for naught.


Lets go!

Look at the graph above, and the little table … Ponder for a minute what you would do to close the last-mile gap and assist the necessary message shine through.

Fixing for simpleness contributes to interaction efficiency. It of course assesses your brand, and, many of all, helps you have better control over the story you are trying to tell.

In this case the objective was to create handouts, maybe to make it simpler for audiences to take in the data by themselves. I would humbly still advocate for simplicity when it concerns data discussion.

Some of the fixes to resolve for simplicity could be to use fewer sprinkles, a simpler header– graphics and text–, and we can be really selective about whats on he move. As you take a look at the slide, Im sure youll develop other methods in which we can liberate the white space for the tyranny of text/colors.

I persistently advocate for simpleness in slides. Do not create handouts!

For the rest of this post Ill neglect the simplicity and storytelling components and focus exclusively on the data itself. How, what, why and rather of.

Here are some things that stood apart for me:

1. Graphing choices can undersell or exaggerate reality.

Start at zero. Please.

One method to overemphasize is to begin your y-axis at 40, as it the case above. The resulting line exaggerates the trend and ends up implying something that might not rather be there.

2. Incorrect accuracy can cause clutter, and undercut the Analysts radiance.

Youll see that the numbers on the chart are expressed with one decimal point. If you consider and stop briefly how this data is gathered, by means of a small triple digit sample self-reported study outcomes, youll rapidly realize that the error variety in this information is likely a few points.

This is extremely subtle.

This false precision also clutters the graph.

3. Remove the interruptions, ruthlessly.

In an 11-year span, each data point is a lot less crucial than the pattern. Do you require the dots on the chart? Do you even require the numbers for the specific months?

When it comes to closing the last-mile gap it is handy to have a callous streak. It is helpful since in service of our ultimate objective, youll have to eliminate some of your preferred things, youll have push back versus your boss/peers who may love clutter, and you may have to assist alter an entire culture.

Heres an alternative method to provide the data, utilizing nothing more than the standard settings in excellent old Excel:

It reveals the trend, simply. You can see it is up broadly over eleven years. That it was under 50 and is now near 70.

Did you notice the pattern is not as overstated as the original? And, still effective!

For bonus offer points, consider the perspective of the person reading this chart instead of the person who developed it.

Just let your preferred graphing tool auto-set the minor-axis and major, which will result in the graph appearing like this …

Heres an example of doing exactly the reverse of concept # 1. The y-axis is artificially set at 100%, as an outcome the pattern is downplayed.

Read. Dont scroll. Absorb.

The trend stands by itself waiting your words as to why it is meaningful.

Here are some things that stood apart for me:.

You dont require to go this far.

You might utilize a different font, possibly have the graph be smaller, or possibly twist the month-year in the other direction. No problem. Im confident if you apply the very first three filters, whatever you develop will close the last-mile space better.

Simple. No amusing company..

My demand to you is to not scroll beyond the slide. Soak up the graph.

How well did you understand the pattern and the insight being interacted? What would you have done in a different way if you d created the chart?

4. Program as much information as is needed, and no more.

Frequently we wish to reveal all the data we have (after all we spent time gathering it!). In this case, it gets in the way of understanding the 12 month shift.

The goal in the initial appears to be to reveal top priorities for 12 months. If so, is the information for August 2017 really adding value?

5. Explore visualization choices, even in Excel!

The bar chart is a sub-optimal way to let the audience see this. Consider explore various visuals in Excel (or D3js).

This is a really nice example of a lesson that we tend to forget all the time (myself included).

It is ten million times much easier to see the 2 data points for 5 measurements, and recognize that only two have actually changed.

It would have taken ten minutes for us to describe the information and trend in the initial. Actually permitting information to play its natural role: Influence decisions.

Heres what stood apart for me:.

We have five measurements of information, and 2 data points each (if you apply principle # 4). We desire the audience to be able to compare 2 data points for each dimension, and look throughout all 5 dimensions.

I used the radar chart to this data, and got this lovely outcome …

The general trend also pops out at you so much easier in this case.

You understand the exercise by now. Pause, assess this slide, then scroll.

6. Dont send out a graphic to do a tables job.

Percent change in marketing spending plans = +1.8 PP.

Even better, why not just have one line of text:.

Why not simply have a table that shows previous 12 months as 7.1% and a row under it with next 12 months as 8.9%?

In this case, we are comparing two simple information points, on two dimensions (past, present). Why do we need a graph taking up all the space?

Why have 2 fat bars?

This one flummoxed me.

Once you come to that conclusion, youll apply principle # 4 and understand that the most intriguing data on this slide is not the visual … Rather, it is the table on the leading right corner of the slide.

The lighter shade for the core numbers will lead to them being pushed a bit into the background. This basic choice guides the readers eyes carefully to the delta (the most essential bit).

A tiny table with 2 information points will do just fine.

( Lets not lose sight of the big image: I am delighted that spending on analytics is going to increase that much! As our leaders spend this largesse, I hope that theyll remember the 10/90 guideline to make sure optimal returns. The cash requires to go to you!).

If you can internalize what is going on, lets see. Stare at the chart intently, seriously, and see if you understand …

Bold products naturally stand out, in this case the blue bars. Many people in the western world look from delegated right, that is how youll likely understand and attempt whats going on.

I like having fun with the borders a bit, as you see above. You may have other things you are choosy about. And, that is ok.:-RRB-.

There is no sign that data from 2017 to 2020 is readily available, and it is extremely not likely that it will follow a direct trend. This is another example of breaking concept # 1.

Your first impression will likely be that the blue bars are showing a random pattern in marketing costs.

To illustrate principle # 6, heres another slide where the graphic is completely unneeded:.

Bada, bing, bada, boom, 10 seconds later on heres your slide:.

If you are the curious type youll recognize that is the incorrect conclusion, and youll desire to understand whats truly going on. Soon enough youll get to the x-axis and a thoroughly review will light up that the reason for the weirdness is the choice to reveal the industry names alphabetically!

An easy table with a touch of colors that extracts the core message merely, directly and rapidly.

7. Please, please, please keep the end-user in mind.

You can check out a 506 word love-letter to my extensive dislike (including a charming workout you can do).

The reason the x-axis is organized alphabetically is to allow you to look up your particular market quickly. This idea is great. My hypothesis is that it most likely kinds a little percent of the usage cases, primarily due to the fact that just knowing your invest is not that important. Whats valuable are the above two use cases.

In this case the bars with the information seem to be arbitrarily arranged. The visualization is getting in the method, developing a larger last-mile space.

That is well on display listed below …

It will definitely take an extra couple of seconds to find your industry, but in service of the 2 larger usage cases, it is a small rate to pay.

Heres what I suggest keeping front of mind: If a non-analyst is taking a look at the information, what utilizes cases form the basis of the worth theyll extract. Guarantee the info viz is resolving for that.

Contrast by angle is significantly harder than by length.

( Speaking of colors … Im partial to chart styles 17 through 24 in Excel. In my work youll see a particular affection for style 18.).

Fortunately this is a fast fix in excellent old Excel. 2 minutes later on, youll have a little waterfall …

It is easy to see the outliers and the pack of 8 that are close to each other (something you cant even see in the initial).

I like the waterfall, however this is not bad.:-RRB-.

Heres the scientific factor:.

Secondarily, theyll wish to know where they fall in context of all other markets, this is almost difficult to accomplish above.

Have fun with the colors, drop shadows, fonts, and more. Make the chart your own. Simply do not forget to take a look at it through the eyes of the end user and fix for their usage cases.

You can have fun with the layout to your hearts material. If you do not like waterfalls for some factor and choose towers …

In this case the end-users (our senior leaders) would be mainly be interested in comprehending where marketing spending is highest and least expensive. This is extremely difficult to achieve above.

I hate pie charts. I really do.

The colors in the pie will catch your eye. From the sizes of the slices it is difficult to internalizes the differences in between each dimension.

8. Consume Pies, Dont Share Them!

Heres an example that lights up that clearly.

It feels like there is a lot. It likewise breaks principle # 2, false precision, which makes things even worse.

Ive extoled the virtue of utilizing a table, rather of trying to be extra attractive and including a graphic.

The above slide is an excellent example how to apply all the concepts youve found out so far. The question and the information are the hero, nearly all by themselves. Allowing you to focus greatly on your story.

The challenge with tables is that they can end up being frustrating extremely rapidly.

Considering the core message the analysis is attempting to send out, I believe that it is also breaking guideline # 4, extra maybe unnecessary data.

Scroll up and down and compare the 2 slides. Youll see much more distinctions.

Because humans discover comparing lengths a lot easier, it must only take a couple of minutes to take the data and convert the slide above into something that closes the last-mile gap effectively.

9. Make your tables pop, assist the readers eye.

It is simpler to look at the pattern in each column. Whats a lot more wonderful is the second usage case of comparing the low and high throughout the four measurements. Much easier.

If, like me, you are biased towards extreme simplicity by means of white space, you can keep the table. Think about using some subtle font style color treatment to develop something thats still a step change over the initial …

There are numerous tools offered to you inside Excel to make your tables pop. I usually start by having fun with the choices at my disposal under Conditional Formatting.

Heres that version …

One straight-forward choice is to use Color Scales, green to yellow, to produce an easier table that pops …

One last touch.

Include to that short attention span the fact that each executive has 18 other urgent things taking up their brain cells. As if all that was not difficult enough, while you exist they are also most likely on their phone or laptop computer.

In this case I feel data bars add mess, but they make internalizing the pattern throughout specific dimensions easier.

I felt it might be of value to see the services and product measurements together, comparing them throughout B2B and B2C.

While all the information is still there, most senior leaders desire to comprehend trends and the contrasts. They desire relative positioning, the above table does not require using up a lot of brain cells to get that. And, if your boss does not trust you … She still has the numbers there.

Notice the combination of typefaces, colors, design treatments, in the table above. Bunch of subtle points there.

Heres the data rendered using strong fill Data Bars …

With that context in mind, how many leaders do you believe will comprehend whats going on here …

If your individual tastes are various, no problem. There are other styles you can utilize.

We disagree on a great deal of topics in our country nowadays, however the one thing we can all agree on is that the human attention span is most likely 10 micro-seconds.

Theres a little air space in the table to highlight the 2 contrasts are various. You can generally utilize visual hints like these to assist the consumers of your analysis.

Persuading anyone in these situations is a burden.

The removal of the total average makes the table tighter.

Ive revealed the low and high in such a way that youll see them rapidly.

Red was picked on purpose to stress that it was the most crucial thing from the customers point of view. Blue fades into the background a bit since it is the least important.

4 dimensions x 5 period x insane swings = Ouch!

For much more bonus points, notification that there are four Februaries and as if it is no huge offer an August is thrown in arbitrarily.

Theres a much more essential principle to gain from this visual …

Ouch. Oops.

These might appear like little problems, however I guarantee you that youll instantly lose trustworthiness with any intelligent leader in the room. They will not raise their hand and start to scold you. Theyll silently make a psychological note about you, and then not pay any attention to anything you are saying.

For perk points, see the randomness in the x-axis. It jumps from 2014 to 2017 with no visible description. To make things worse, look at the trend lines– they connect the 2 data indicate imply a trend between 2015, 2016 that might or might not exist.

10. Let the greater order bit be your north star.

It can be difficult to find out how to go from the complex to the easy. My recommendation is to begin with the most essential thing you are attempting to say.

In this circumstances the objective is to illuminate the percent modification in marketing knowledge in the next 12 months. So, are the remainder of the data points necessary and of value?

With those decisions we are entrusted to just 2 data points. We can move to an easy table and close the last-mile gap by creating this slide …

In service of the higher order bit, I would argue that we can likewise get rid of the two Februaries and the lonely August. (Though I all the best appreciate the effort it took to get those information points.).


To see the dramatic change, scroll back up and look at the initial and then come back here. Extraordinary, ideal?

It may appear that this is tough work that requires time. It does take more time. It is not in the ink rather it is in the think. Discussing, debating, actually analyzing what we are attempting to communicate. The picturing part takes a lot less time.

The colors help focus the attention even more.

If the objective is to simply show the change, we can simply show the percentage modification.

We can do one better.

The greatest problem with this kind of analysis, assembled into 95 slides, is that it never ever responds to the question why?

Take this slide as an example. It shares a really positive view of analytics …

The slide breaks all ten principles weve talked about in this post, but beyond that there is a bigger problem here.

11. Why. Your task is to address why!

Your first instinct is the marvel at the shift (all blues are up!), and assess how this chart is long-term job security for everybody who reads this blog site. However, youre an Analyst which good feeling will not last.

Your mind quickly goes to … Why? What is triggering this shift?

The entity developing this report regretfully never addresses any why concern anywhere. Perhaps by design.

But, consider this: Data creates interest. The exact same data turns into a frustration if the Analyst does not satisfy that interest by means of much deeper analysis that explains why. It certainly drives no modification.

Look at Mining/Construction, 60 percent points of change. OMG! Why?

Ive composed about this topic before, utilizing an example from Econsultancy and Lynchpin: Smarter Survey Results and Impact: Abandon the Asker-Puker Model!

I wish you smaller sized gaps and more choices that are data-influenced.

Show as much data as is required, and no more.05. Dont send out a graphic to do a tables job.07. Make your tables pop, direct the readers eye.10.

Heres a summary of the 11 concepts you can use to close the last-mile gap:.

Regardless, I quit. Maybe you can teach me, and our readers, what a variation with a reduced last-mile space will look like.

A challenge for you to take on.

Just email me your version (blog at kaushik dot net) or comment listed below.

If you stop briefly and think about how this data is gathered, through a small triple digit sample self-reported survey outcomes, youll quickly realize that the mistake range in this information is likely a few points. In an 11-year span, each information point is a lot less crucial than the pattern. It would have taken ten minutes for us to discuss the information and pattern in the original. While all the information is still there, most senior leaders want to comprehend trends and the contrasts. To make things worse, look at the pattern lines– they connect the two information points to imply a pattern in between 2015, 2016 that may or might not exist.

Please share versions of the above examples that youve taken a crack at repairing. And, your lessons, best practices, and as always your critique by means of comments listed below.

Thank you.

In your practice, how broad is the last-mile space? What do you believe adds to the gap the most? Which of the above concepts have you used, to good effect? Do you have a favorite principle, or five, to close the space? If you needed to eliminate one practice when it pertains to information presentation, who would be the chosen prospect?

Partly the problem is that I might not truly internalize what was being said. Partly it is that the numbers do not really seem to change much. Partly it is because I was torn in between the graphic and the table on the top right.

I had not idea what to do with this slide … Can you develop an after version?

Now that you know the 11 principles that aid in closing the last-mile gap, I want you to take on something on my behalf.

Without the why your last-mile space is a million miles wide. Please consider it your job to answer the why concern if you are going to be in the information regurgitation business. Without it all this is … phony news.

As always, it is your turn now.


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