Learn how important it is to focus on one thing to communicate.
- [Narrator] Taking raw data and converting it into a visual that's succinct and clear, and communicates a coherent idea can be challenging. Maybe there's too much to present, or not enough time to present it, or your audience isn't knowledgeable enough about the subject matter to dive right in. Thankfully, picked the right chart for your data begins with the same three steps as every data storytelling and visualization project. These three steps will help you solve for these and other challenges, and are your keys to success.
First there's KWYRWTS, which stands for know what you really want to say. You can't communicate anything to anyone unless you know what you're really trying to say. You have to narrow in quite clearly on a single focal point. What's most important to communicate? If you don't focus, you will confuse, bore, and/or annoy your audience. Second, there KWYDIS, which stands for know what your data is saying. You have to be selective with your words when communicating with data. You actually have facts, the actual data themselves, which are the focus of the message.
The data is actually saying something that can't be ignored. As I like to say, the data has a seat at the table. Finally is KWYANTH, which stands for know what your audience needs to hear. Your audience is a key constituency. You can't send a message to your audience without considering what language they speak, how much they know about your subject matter, and whether they can speak in jargon or require simpler language. The needs of your audience must drive communication decisions, and thus the visualization you choose to create.
These are terrible acronyms. They're hard to pronounce and even harder to remember. Maybe I can help you at least remember the trio of acronyms by calling them KWY's. They're incredibly important for all your data communications, and they're critical for chart selection specifically, so your first task when picking any chart is to really understand your KWYs. I'll be pointing out how the KWYs apply in every chart selection decision throughout the course. By the way, it's worth noting that your KWYs will shift over time as you work on your project.
If you think carefully and strategically about what you're communicating and with whom, and think some more, and think about your audience, and sketch your ideas, and design some visuals, and test your ideas with your audience, and think some more, you get the idea, as you do the work what will happen is you'll find yourself constantly shifting your KWY's as your ideas evolve. While your audience may never change, your understanding and empathy for them will. Even your data may change as you go from placeholder data to real data, which often happens when I'm working on client projects.
Even when your data doesn't change, again, your understanding of it certainly will, and most of all, your KWYs almost certainly will change. You may decide at the beginning of a project that your data set means one thing and that one narrow area is the most interesting and important part to communicate. Meanwhile, as you explore, think about your audience, and discover other nuances in the data, you may involve to think the KWY is really something entirely different, or just a very slightly different nuanced angle on the same area you though about at first.
- Determining what to focus on
- Reviewing the standard chart categories
- Bars and columns
- Line charts
- Pie charts
- Using cumulative charts
- Finding alternatives to the standards