Why “Know Your Audience” is Terrible Dataviz Advice—and What to Do Instead

Jun 1st, 2021 / Data Visualization
Every time I scroll through social media, someone’s post is telling me: “Want to know the secret to great dataviz?! Know your audience!” “Want to make a great dashboard?! Know your audience!!” I mean… duh. “Knowing your audience” is terrible data visualization advice. What does that even mean?! It’s too broad. It’s too generic. It’s too beginner-level. What’s the alternative? Not know my audience? Ignore their preferences altogether? Of course not. In this article, let’s dive deeper. Let’s look at 8 specific, nuanced, advanced ways of “knowing our audience.”
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How to Organize Your PowerPoint Slides by Adding Sections

Apr 27th, 2021 / Data Visualization
Want to organize your PowerPoint slides a little better? There’s a behind-the-scenes trick that I love using in my own presentations: Sections! In this blog post and video tutorial, I’ll give you a demo of what sections are, how to add them, how I use them to hide topics and how I use them to re-order topics.
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How to Visualize Qualitative Data with Colored Phrases

Apr 13th, 2021 / Data Visualization
Wondering how to visualize your qualitative data? Maybe you’ve got open-ended survey responses, focus group notes, or speech transcripts. Qualitative data visualization can bring our words and phrases to life. I created a tutorial on using colored phrases to visualize qualitative data. In this tutorial, you’ll learn: 1) the first time I ever used colored phrases to visualize qualitative data; 2) my favorite examples of colored phrases; and 3) practical tips for using colored phrases in your project.
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24 Conditional Formatting Visuals in Microsoft Excel that Should Be Retired

“You should go work at Microsoft and fix Excel’s terrible formatting.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from workshop participants. Bill Gates, are you reading this?? Microsoft Excel is lonnnnng overdue for some updates. Don’t get me wrong—it’s still my favorite program. With 750 million users worldwide, I won’t be switching to anything else. It’s used by every business professional I know for at least part of their workflow. I’m getting tired of making excuses for Microsoft. Here are 24 conditional formatting visuals that should be retired ASAP because they’re ableist, time-consuming to read, or look like they’re from 1995.
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How Drawing Makes Us Better at Data Visualization

Feb 23rd, 2021 / Data Visualization
“Which software program is best for data visualization???” This is one of the most common questions about getting started with graphs, charts, and diagrams. There are plenty of great software programs, like Excel and Tableau—and even PowerPoint! There’s also a lesser-known secret to creating strong data visualizations: hand-drawn sketches.
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Getting Started with Sketchnoting: A Conversation with Emily Mills

Jan 5th, 2021 / Data Visualization
I recently had the chance to talk with Emily Mills, who is a professional illustrator and expert in sketchnoting. Emily was a guest speaker in our Report Redesign course. She walked us through the basics of sketchnoting, her career, why hand drawn images stop the scroll, the cool brain science behind sketchnoting, and then led us through some drawing exercises.
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