Learn to simplify a table to reduce mental tasks (from Tufte).
- [Instructor] We're going to get down to the details about the first of the three rules of data visualization which is to reduce mental tasks. As marketers, we're data nerds. The problem is our clients have a minute or two, then it's on to the next thing. We need to make sure their eyes aren't going to roll back in their heads when we're trying to show them this information. We need to reduce their mental tasks. Here's how you can make your data less of a workout. First, let's take a look at the problem. This is a really complete table. It shows clicks, cost, revenue, a whole bunch of other stuff but interpreting it takes a lot of energy and time.
Most clients just want to know the return on ad spend, ROAS, and how it's changed. Here's what they have to do, though, to extract that information. First, they have to find the columns that they want. Now, they have to look at last month's ROAS and extract that information. Then, they have to read the data and compare it to the previous month. That's at least six mental tasks to find one piece of information, the change in ROAS. You can make this a lot simpler. So here's that same table again.
I'm going to start eliminating mental tasks. First, I'm going to bold the headings. It just makes it a little bit easier to interpret this. Next, I'm going to bold the column that shows the time span. Again, a little bit quicker for interpretation. Now I'm going to highlight the most important column. That makes yet another mental task easier and I'm going to highlight the two data points that I want the client to see, like so. I just took this from six relatively strenuous mental tasks down to maybe three and it's much easier for the client to look at this information because the most important data points are highlighted.
This is not pretty. You can definitely make it look a lot better than I just did but the client can extract the information relatively quickly. And there's an even better way to display this data. I can just create a chart by highlighting the two columns, clicking Insert, picking a chart format, and that's it. Now, the client can look at the ROAS trends with very little effort. We've all presented data to clients and had a hard time explaining it.
By simplifying your presentation of data you can make it easier to absorb and easier to explain. You'll have happier clients and more time to do great work for them.
- Summarize the mantras of “removing” and “reducing.”
- Identify the best font type to use on slides and charts.
- Explain the undesirable effects of context manipulation.
- Recall which type of chart is most effective at showing trends over time.
- Recognize the best practices strategy for organizing a report.