4 game changing strategies for information discrimination

We’re pretty excited about the upcoming Women’s World Cup as well as all the soccer (football) games we’ll get in Atlanta and Nashville this Summer.

All these matches made us think how much authoring data for an audience can be like a preparing for a game or a PK (penalty kick). Distractions and extra information are your enemy. As a data author intent on having your audience understand (get) what you’re doing, you need to prioritize what information really matters. Here are some thoughts around keeping focused and having the biggest impact possible on your audience:

1. Find the heart of the  issue - your data product should have a core theme which is based on the essence of the issue. For the sales team the big question might be “How can we generate more leads into our pipeline?” Honing in on that core question can help you eliminate information that isn’t helpful.

2. Ask a better question - “What would you like to know?” might generate a long list of responses. To help narrow down the list, follow that question with “What would you do if you knew this information?” This second step will help you decided what data is actually needed.

3. Push to the appendix - Of course there will still be times when you are required to include all the data people might want to see. Utilizing an appendix can ensure the information is available but doesn’t detract from the data product’s main purpose.

4. Separate reporting from exploration - Reporting and exploration are two separate processes. Know which purpose you are designing for. Just remember, tools designed for reporting should address specific questions and stay on topic. On the other hand, tools designed for exploration or analysis will provide a broader palette for users explore a variety of data.

Staying focused and incorporating these strategies will help you create data solutions that are useful, productive and interesting. After all, isn’t that the goal :-) ?  Enjoy the matches this summer!

Find out more on effective data presentation strategies from our book, Data Fluency.

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Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from Data Fluency: Empowering Your Organization with Effective Data Communication by Zach Gemignani, Chris Gemignani, Richard Galentino, Patrick Schuermann.  Copyright © 2014.