And then I couldn't find a bookmark, a data viz story

data viz design process data viz tip Aug 28, 2022
An image of a stack of books and a bar graph with the text And then I didn't have a bookmark, what not having a bookmark reminded me about creating graphs.

One evening last week I wanted to start a new book, but I didn't have a bookmark.

Now, this may seem like a very minor conundrum, but I was already sitting down, and I knew I'd be interrupted and have to stop reading suddenly, requiring a bookmark immediately. Plus, it was a library book - I didn't want to fold down a page corner to mark my place. So, I didn't open the book.

The next morning, remembering my dilemma from the previous evening, I put a bookmark in the front of the book so I'd be ready to read it whenever I wanted.

You may be wondering why I'm telling this story in a blog about data visualization.

Well, this predicament reminded me the importance of having things in place before you start.

In data visualization, this means having the data and exploring it to understand the variables and patterns before you begin making your final graph.

It also means thinking about the audience before you start.

Ask yourself questions like: Who's in your audience? What do they already know? What do they need to know?

And think about how familiar they are with data and graphs. If your audience members are comfortable using data, you can consider using more complex visualizations. If your audience members do not frequently look at graphs or use data, you'll need to provide more context and think more about how you can support their understanding and interpretation of the visualization.

Don't end up without a bookmark when you want to read a book - think ahead about your audience and explore your data before you start creating your final data viz, it'll result in better communication and more engagement from your audience.

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, the Studio Scoop. Want more stories and data viz tips like this? Subscribe below.

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