The term data visualization may already be in your vocabulary or you may have heard it quickly in a discussion about charts or reports. Anyway, don’t worry that it's some new class you have to take or concept that you will be forced to use. Whether you realize it or not you’re already an expert. Actually, if you work in a hospital you’re a leading authority on data visualization.
Data visualization can mean different things to many, but at its core it is a means of visual communication. When it’s done well, an easy-to-understand visual display causes an individual or group to take action. Poor visualizations are the equivalent of an unreadable prescription. It needs clarification and is replaced by a conversation. The visual itself is useless.
How does one become a visualization expert?
You have experience looking at them all day long.
You know good ones from bad.
You know exactly what to do (or not do) when looking at a good one.
Here are some examples of what we at Juice call “Everyday Visualizations” that make you an expert. For each image ask yourself:
Do I understand what this means?
Do I have a specific action or inaction to take?
Here are some additional ones with a little coaching:
There’s plenty of paper since red level is low.
It’s more than halfway charged. Don’t need to charge yet.
Probably not the examples you were expecting, but they are everyday visualizations nonetheless. Given the fact that you see and use them all day long with clear actions to take makes you an expert.
In an ideal world all reporting will be as clear as these examples, but even if it’s not exactly clear that doesn’t make you less of an expert. Ask about the actions you’re supposed to take. Request clarity in how information should be presented. Use examples, like the ones above, to show how these are easy to understand and lead to action. A worst case scenario is that you’ll have to drop a couple of phrases like “Your data to ink Ratio is too low” or “There’s too much Chart Junk.” It will make others pause and give you some bragging rights over your newfound data visualization expertise.
Find out more on effective data visualization from our book, Data Fluency.
Juice is an expert in designing and building web applications that connect people with data. We work with clients across industries including healthcare, digital advertising, and other data-rich businesses. Founded in 2004, Juice has offices in Nashville, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.
Our people, our platform and our passion are all dedicated to building data products that people love to use. To us, this means finding better ways of capturing the excitement of finding an insight and sharing it with a colleague. This means telling a story using data that unfolds as your understanding grows. This means delivering data products that make your customers say, "Wow!"
HealthStream—which made a minority equity investment in Juice last year—was instrumental in a Juice headquarters relocation to Nashville one year ago, with both companies recognizing the potential of Juice and its products to support HealthStream’s network, including Nashville’s data-rich healthcare industry.
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