Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reaction: Effectively Communicating Numbers

The white paper on Effectively Communicating Numbers speaks about the effectiveness of graphical representations and a systematic approach to make a decision about the best graphical representation to display your data. It enlists the various types of relations that exist in Quantitative business data. It also gives a brief idea of when to use a particular type in order to achieve the goal of "effectively representing information through graphs".
In my opinion, categorical data facilitates in showing the third dimension in a two dimensional representation of data. Further, there are number of cases when points (used to encode quantitative data) are more effective in bringing out the desired message. The author also speaks about having only the necessary information and avoiding unnecessary and redundant information. But, I would like to put across a bit of a contradicting opinion to this. For example, if there is a bar chart depicting the US sales for every region (North West East South). Instead of every bar having the same color we can color the bar having the highest sales with a darker shade and the least one with a lighter shade. Although there is a redundancy injected in the information received, but the user seeing it will immediately know the region having the highest sales even before he reads the chart. A bit of redundancy is always useful if there is a substantial increase in the degree of effectiveness.