Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Beauty in numbers

I was reminded today of a site that I really like, it’s called Information is Beautiful and the I like it for many reasons but predominantly for its simplicity. How brilliant to take what is often a whole load of complicated data and turn into something so accessible. And it’s not necessarily about having loads of data but instead taking a concept and using a relevant analogy to explain it in its simplest form.

With the rapidly changing digital landscape there are often times when we need to explain concepts to clients in their simplest form. We are already developing various dashboards for our clients that help to simplify the huge amount of data we collect from campaigns to make them easily digestible. They're also easily shareable, which is important for clients to present to their seniors who perhaps don’t have time to sit down and trawl through reams of data.

I think it would make a big difference if we applied more simplicity and creativity to our outward facing work. Admittedly a lot of the back end work requires spreadsheets and charts but when it comes to presenting to those that matter why should they have to endure these charts too?

Yes a lot of the time we don’t have the time to produce charts that are made in anything but excel and PowerPoint but if cretivity was the norm and there were templates set up for producing this work then time wouldn’t be a problem.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a client and your product is fairly low interest and DR focussed (financial services, health care etc). Your main focus for any results meeting is to be shown what’s working, what isn’t working, what’s being fixed and what’s in store for the future?
Perfectly reasonable requests, the answers to which would require a lot of numbers and cross referencing graphs and overly populated scales that are difficult to read etc.

Using IIB as an inspiration, how could we look to change this? You might have to start with something that’s recognisable on the first look but upon closer inspection proves to be much more in-depth and detailed such as this Digital Distraction Chart:

Chart found here

And then at a more advanced level you could have an interactive chart that clients could take away and explore in their own time such as this:

Chart found here

To be honest we’re nearly there with some of our dashboards and clients love nothing more than being able to see exactly how their results stack up against their competitors, especially if these results were huge towering trees overshadowing little saplings or piles of notes stacked next to a small stack of coins.

Generally I think clients are fairly content with the way results are delivered but I also think this is because they know no alternative.

This can change, as the bottom line is: Data doesn’t need to be dull, accurate yes, dull no.

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