As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I’ve become extremely interested in data analytics and data visualization. When I’m interested in something, I like to learn as much as I can about it.

This book may have ruined me. I’ll never be able to look at a graph the same way again! The author does a great job breaking down the simple steps to create an amazing data visual. She has six keys lessons and a ton of examples to show good versus bad. The book is also visually appealing with tons of colours and nice layout.

The six lessons learned:

  1. Understand the context. What are you trying to communicate? Who are you communicating to? The author uses concepts like the 3 minute story, the Big Idea and storyboarding as tools to help articulate your story.
  2. Choose an appropriate visual display. The author mentions her distain for pie charts and donuts charts throughout the book. Picking the correct visual is critical and the book shows tons of examples of one style being improved by switching the type of display.
  3. Eliminate clutter. Eliminate anything that doesn’t provide value. The author definitely has a minimalist vibe to her graphs, which I think makes them better. Don’t add details that are self explanatory or serve no purpose to the point your trying to make.
  4. Focus attention where you want it. The human eye typically makes a Z like shape when scanning a graph. They explain how to use that to your advantage to placing things in certain ways and using elements like colour to attract attention.
  5. Think like a designer. Increase the audience tolerance of design issues by making your visuals aesthetically pleasing.
  6. Tell a story. Craft a story that has a clear beginning, middle and end (or call to action). Utilize the power of repetition to help stories stick.

The author (Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic) used to work for Google where she traveled around teaching others the power of story telling with data. I’m not surprised this was such a popular course at Google. I’ve learned a ton and feel like my data visuals and storytelling will be so much better with the simple lessons learn in the book.


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