Welcome to the E-Tabs DV Blog
Welcome to the first of what we hope will be engaging and informative blog entries about Data Visualization design, Dashboards and Charting & Automated Reporting – or dataviz, as we’ll mostly refer to it.
You’re likely reading this either as a current or prospective consumer or producer of dataviz, whether in the more general business intelligence (BI) realm, or perhaps the more narrow context of market research (MR). For context, we’ll mostly approach this from the marketing research perspective as that’s really in our company’s wheelhouse and has been our main business focus for two decades. But we’ll also touch more generally on other disciplines that utilize dataviz.
From printed reports, to acetate overhead presentations (remember those?), to PowerPoint, to non-interactive e-documents, dataviz is the next logical step in the evolution of data distribution and consumption. And this is especially so when something beyond static data delivery is needed (or wanted) to tell a story. Dashboards are a versatile and powerful tool for delivering to the widest audience possible (i.e. globally!) and are suitable for either standard or mobile platforms (within reason, of course; mobile viewing of dashboards on iPads/tablets is certainly getting better all the time, while the very small display of the smartphone… well, maybe not so much).
Online interactive content delivery is a quantum leap beyond what came before. The newest generation of browsers allow more full-featured dashboards to work natively in nearly any context. It’s an entirely new paradigm focused on involving the target audience as active “users” and not just passive “viewers.” Features such as drill-downs, user-generated notifications, bookmarks and annotations, and multi-modal export are the norm rather than the exception. And experienced and educated clients now expect as the default – not just request – such functionality.
A huge piece of building a functional and useful dashboard is, of course, the design. “Form follows function,” as the saying goes. It’s every bit as true in dataviz design as with any other fundamentally creative process. And it’s especially true if your task is creating a dashboard site that’s meant to be immediately approachable and usable by the mass general public who may have NO idea what they’re supposed to do upon first visit to the site, as opposed to experienced and tech-savvy research professionals.
Going forward, we’ll talk general design concepts as well as some concrete, real world examples to illustrate, pulling from our team’s own experiences in the “real world.” We hope to provide at least a little wisdom and insight into the world of dataviz design.