AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Feb/12

20

DVR Week: Stephanie Evergreen on What To Do When You’ve Got It Bad for DVR

Oh, hi. I’m Stephanie Evergreen and I’m in love with data visualization and reporting (DVR). I blog about DVR, I tweet about DVR, and sometimes I even dream about DVR. I was in love with DVR at first sight so I’m here to tell you what you can do when you realize you, too, have got it bad.

Lessons Learned:

The signs you’re in love:

  • You see children playing and think about how you can use their jacket colors for your next report cover.
  • You wake up in a panicked sweat over whether the last graph you made had a 2:1 width:height ratio.
  • You feel butterflies in your stomach when you think of cute presentation titles.

Hot tips: Now what can you do with all that attractive energy?

  • Hook up with your local Toastmasters or Ignite club. In both of these groups, members give short presentations, usually on fun and lighthearted topics. It’s a great way to get inspired by just watching others, test out ideas, shore up your presentation skills, and feel the love from fellow diehards.
  • Write up a style sheet for one of your projects. These one-pagers specify the precise fonts, headers, margins, and colors to be used for all documentation in one project. Smashing Magazine has a detailed guide on what to include. Establishing these settings upfront can ensure a consistent look and feel for the communications around your evaluation and let you release some of that built up DVR tension.
  • Enjoy a little restraint. One of the most common guidelines in data visualization and reporting is to keep it simple. Test out Chart Tamer or download free templates from the Chart Chooser at Juice Analytics. Both of these awesome tools ask the user to begin by thinking about the relationship between the variables that should be graphed. After the relationship has been selected, the programs restrict the chart options to only those appropriate for displaying variables of that nature.
  • Reach out. Join the Data Visualization and Reporting Topical Interest Group by adjusting your profile on eval.org. Ask or answer a question about data visualization on Nathan Yau’s FlowingData Forum or Stephen Few’s Perceptual Edge Discussion Page. Comment in Susan Kistler’s discussion on LinkedIn. Or tap into the collective and rapidly growing knowledge base already in our field and read one of the many blog posts from fellow evaluators on data visualization and reporting. When you’ve got it bad for DVR, at least you’ll know you’re not alone.

 

We’re celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting Week with our colleagues in the DVR AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our DVR members and you may wish to consider subscribing to our weekly headlines and resources list where we’ll be highlighting DVR resources. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice.

 

4 comments

  • Stephanie Evergreen · February 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Emily,

    Why not use Excel for charting? It’s such a simple program (which is about all I can handle). The kindergarten chart in the blog post I linked to was all Excel.

    Here is a link to some icon collections – they may help you with your search for symbols and the nice part about collections is that the icons will have the same look and feel: http://theelearningcoach.com/resources/icon-collection/

    Reply

  • Emily Almaguer · February 21, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I love your manipulation of the kindergarten reading chart!

    I am trying to improve my DVR skills since I produce 12 community evaluation reports each year and want them to be understandable and useful to stakeholders. I do all of my analysis in SPSS and produce most of my graphs in MS Word. I would like to be able to do more manipulation of the graphs that is beyond the capacity of SPSS or Word. I took Tableau for a test drive and it didn’t seem like it offered that much more than SPSS, though with a 2 week trial I imagine that I didn’t discover it’s full capacity.

    Can you recommend some other software packages or strategies to make graphs more interesting? I would like to be able to use more symbols that are related to the topic (i.e., dollar signs instead of geometric shapes to show changes in client’s income over time between different organizations). Forgive my ignorance, but I am fairly certain I’ve been “building” reports with the same limited tools for so long while the rest of the world has adopted much better technologies.

    Thanks! Emily

    Reply

  • Stephanie Evergreen · February 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Right! I redesigned my kid’s report card, for cryin out loud. http://evereval.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/how-to-keep-parents-in-the-dark/

    Reply

  • Admin comment by Susan Kistler · February 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Other signs? You go to parents night at your daughter’s elementary school and suggest that pie charts may not be the best way to go for that ‘favorite pets’ data.

    Reply

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