Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reaction: Effectively Communicating Numbers

As it is rightly said in the summary that “The ability to display data graphically is not intuitive; it requires a set of visual design skills that must be learned.”, this paper concentrates on the need of graph design in business today. It shows step-by-step process to decide the means to display data. It lays stress on how to match our data to the exact type of representation and design the graph such that the data requires no understanding.

From determining the type of graph to where the data should be displayed, best design for the remaining objects and how to show any data that needs to be highlighted, author has emphasized on each and every detail. The paper describes the series of stages which determines the perfect way to display any data. Another good thing about the paper is the way it has been explained like a story as how a person who had a bit of knowledge of how to display data as graphs impresses his boss. After that the author tells that what he did was not the best method, so it leaves the user pondering on what if he had displayed it the best way, he would have certainly got a promotion. It stresses on effective communication and how it is usually ignored, resulting in a miscommunication.

The paper clearly explains why a particular design patter is useful and when it should be used. It differentiates between different kinds of data and scales used to represent data. The table named “Steps in Designing a Graph” at the end, is a perfect summarization of the paper.
Stephen Few, the author of the paper has done a great job in explaining the best means to display the data by giving real world examples. The paper is very clear and concise with a graph/diagram along with each and every explanation. It’s a must read for every person whose job requires handling data.