My Reading Notes : Storytelling with Data


When I was learning about big data world, I found an interesting article. It told about data visualization techniques like never before. Afterwards, I got book’s recommendation about techniques behind data storytelling written by Cole Nussbaumer. Soon, I searched the book on the online store and I got one.

Storytelling with Data by Cole Naussbaumer Knaflic. The book  is very organized and it has a beautiful insight. The writer specializes in the effective display of quantitative information and writes the popular blog She has experiences on the Google People Analytics and so on.

What I got from this book is how to deal with visualizing data. It’s not just we serve visualization at all. However, we design a good visualization and show the insight from it. Sounds easy right?  But I think no, bad graphs are everywhere.

Most people don’t know how to serve a good summary of data. In school, we learn a lot about language and math. On the language side, we learn how to put words together into sentences and stories. With math, we learn to make sense of numbers. But it’s rare that these two sides combined together. Very few people feel naturally adept in this space.

From the writer’s experiences, she travels around the world of ineffective graph ad develops in her own concept how to deal with an effective display of quantitative information. Fortunately, we can learn about practical guidance that we can begin using immediately to better communicate visually with data. Here’s six key lessons that we can try it out:

1. Understand the context

In order to understand the context, we have to know who our audience is and what they need. Then after we got information from our audience, we have to consider how to present it,

2. Choose an appropriate visual display

There are dozens of visual displays. But not all of them effective to present our data such as table, heatmaps, line graph, bar chart, pie chart, and so on. One tips from the writer is don’t apply pie chart or any three dimension graphs because of its difficult to read.

3. Eliminate clutter

It’s important to identify and eliminate clutter in order to display a clean design. One of the best methods that we can apply is Gestalt Principles of Visual Perception. It gives us about how our brain works on the visual information.

4. Focus attention where you want it

On this step, we explore how preattentive attributes can be used strategically to help direct our audience’s attention. For example we can modify size, color, and position to visually attract audiences.

5. Think like a designer

Thinking like a designer by considering affordances as cues for how to interact with our communication such as highlight the important stuff, eliminate distractions, and create a visual hierarchy of information.

6. Tell a story

Final step is crafting a story with clear beginning (plot), middle (twists), and end (call to action). We can consider the order and manner of our narrative to be more interesting.

That’s all the outline that I got, see on my next reading notes.

By Miftahul Arifin


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