Join Bill Shander for an in-depth discussion in this video Three more Ws, part of Learning Data Visualization.
So in the last movie we talked about the six Ws. And, how useful they can be to help you find the hierarchy in your information. And figure out, not only what story you're trying to tell. But how to tell that story in your visualization projects. There are actually three more Ws that I think are equally as important. In this movie we're going to talk about the other questions you should ask yourself. When going in through and designing your projects. The first one is what I call what's wanting? What's missing from the data you have? In the end, you almost always are going to be missing data.
Your client gives you data. And there's may the granularity of the data is missing. Or there's a column missing. Or questions missing from a survey that you could use. And there really three things you can do about that. The first one is just keep calm and power on, the fact is, sometimes that's all you can do. Sometimes you are not going to get the data that is missing. It is good to be aware of it, and to know it, maybe in a way to help you design around it, so you know to, not to sort of steer the visualization towards the question or an answer that you don't have. But the fact is, you're going to have to just keep calm power on the majority of cases.
The second thing you can do is, you can do back to the source, you can ask your client for the missing data. If a field was left out of a data set, they may have that data, may not have thought you needed it, ask them for it. because sometimes they'll be able to give it to you. The files choice is really the least likely to happen, they almost never happens from my experience, is you can generate more data, so if you're during a visualization of survey data, let's say, and the question wasn't asked, you can always go back and ask that question, right? You know, redo the survey or add a question to the survey.
Like I said, it's not very common, but if you can do it, it's a great thing to do. The second one is what I called what in the world? And by that I mean, a lot of times, you can find other data from other sources. To bring into your project. A lot of times the data that you have tells a very specific story, but it can benefit from context. And so if could find data from other sources, maybe it's census data or World Bank data, it'll help complete the picture, it'll help complete the story that you're trying to tell, in a way that the primary data that you have, just can't do. So in the example of the hospital pricing visualization that I showed in the last movie, in this case I was taking data from the centers for Medicaid and Medicare services, which was really just hospital pricing data.
But the question I was trying to answer was, where could I go to get a hip replacement or any other procedure done for a good price and good quality. And quality was not provided in the data that I was given. So I went out and found, also, hospital quality data. Which happened to also come from centers for Medicaid and Medicare services. But this data really provided the context. And, in this case, it really completed the picture. because, it's not just about getting a cheap surgery done. It's also about getting a good job done. So, quality was very important, and I could not have done it without getting that outside data to help.
Another example of contextual data, as I mentioned, World Bank data. There's a great set of data from the World Bank. This project was done for LEK Consulting. And the idea was to share some of their thought leadership content insights into, trends in different regions around the world about retail opportunities. So, if you wanted to open a new store in Europe or Asia or anywhere else, you could read their thought leadership content. But, just putting those thought leadership pieces onto a map, is far less interesting than if I can also show data that would be relevant to that type of an exercise.
So, in this case, got World Bank data on GDP growth, and imports growth, and household expenditure growth. So for each category of data, I can roll over a country, and see that particular country's data for that information. And as you can see some of these, I can see both the growth rate as well as the real value. So, it provides a lot of context around the data that LEK wanted share, in way that's very helpful to the user. And so the third is what I call, what's wild? And by this I mean that, sometimes you want to take a little bit of an out-of-box approach.
Whether it's to capture your user's attention. Or to really tell a new and interesting story. And, it could really mean a couple of different things. One, is it can mean that you're just going to take a very unique visual approach to your data. And your not going to show just a bar chart, your going to try to do something very unique visually, to show something. And we'll talk more about that in other videos. Sometimes it's about bringing in some unexpected contextual data. So maybe instead World Bank data, you want to bring in some data from another source that is sort of counterintuitive or, or different that might bring some really interesting insights to a project.
Or, maybe you want to create a really out of the box interactive experience, to help bring the data to life in a new and interesting way. A very simple example of, maybe not what's wild per se, but what's wild helped get me here, was I was doing visualization, looking at some survey data. So in this case, you can look through and let's say pick a question. So in this case was, what percentage of consulting firms think that offline marketing is going to be more or less important over time? And it's about the leaders versus the laggards, right? The people who lead the industry versus the people who are sort of behind the industry, what's the difference between the two? And as you can see, these are essentially bar charts that sort of slide in from the outside.
And, the way I got to this was thinking about what's wild, what can I do that's a little bit different? I was actually drawing on a whiteboard, and I was leaning sideways as I was trying to draw these bars. And it occurred to me that by looking at them sideways, it might bring an interesting perspective, because in this case I really was all about showing the gap between these two things, showing it this way, how these things come to the center and where the gap is, between them. Was just an interesting way of visualizing this data. It's not revolutionary for sure, but it's sort of an evolutionary visual display, by thinking about what's wild.
By sort of trying to get a little outside of the box. Looking at, from another perspective, just the real percentages as opposed to emphasizing the differences, they are more traditional bars that grow from the inside out. But again, are sort of flipped on the side. And sort of animate and come to life a little bit. So, the three Ws will really help you push the boundaries a little bit when you're brainstorming, and to try to find the hierarchy that you're looking to tell on your projects. You know, what's missing? What in the world can I find to add context to it? And how can I push the boundaries a little bit? How could I bring a little bit of excitement and interest into a project? You add these to the six Ws, and you will always be able to find your way in projects like this.
- Channeling your audience
- Understanding your data
- Determining the information hierarchy
- Sketching and wireframing your ideas
- Defining your narrative
- Using typography, color, contrast, and shape to convey meaning
- Making your visualization interactive