Numbers play a big role in what we do here at CHIEF. From using Google Analytics to interpret website behavior to determining the perfect mix of media buys in an advertising campaign, we use data daily to display trends, make strategic decisions and show results to our clients. To effectively communicate this data, it’s important to leverage our findings and relevant information to tell an impactful story.
While us CHIEF’ers have creative minds, there are times we may get stuck in a rut and turn to the world around us for a fresh perspective. So, a crew of us in the DISCO-Insights group (a cross-disciplinary team that meets monthly to discuss all things data) replicated a similar activity that Alden Leonard hosted last winter at Union Station. We ventured a few steps from 1800 Mass to spend a lovely summer lunch by Dupont Circle with one task: collect data on the surrounding environment and create a visual representation of what we saw.
All-in-all, our group created “a number” of data visualizations from our afternoon experiment:
Dupont Circle @ Lunch Time
Sally took a unique when she incorporated the infamous Dupont fountain as a semi-circle chart, accounting for where people were walking around the circle. Additionally, she used facts and figures to show some of her other data collection points and incorporate more artistry into her dashboard.
Matthew evaluated two relationships in his graph—people wearing headphones and their location in the circle. Not only did he notice that there were different areas where music-listeners were sitting (identified through the rungs), but he also recognized the directional movement of those with earbuds, demonstrated through the line graph at the center of his visualization. He used a larger map concept to display this two-part correlation.
A guy with an eye for design, Alden’s approach focused more on the physical orientation of the space and included a few key stats mixed with smaller graphs. While his dashboard predominately focused on design aesthetic (for example using a paletteto represent the cloudy day) he incorporated trends through charts to accentuate a broader picture.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of “things” I saw in Dupont Circle, so thought, “why don’t I just make my dashboard about the specific ‘things’ I saw?” My focus was on three areas: the ‘circles’ of Dupont (AKA items with wheels), animals in the park, and people’s relationship with their phones. While my right-sided brain is not the best at artistic execution, I used objects to represent each chart in my dashboard.
The Team’s Takeaway
Alden’s reflection on the last data-insights exercise was valuable. He encouraged our team to narrow our focus, be intentional, provide context, and let our personalities shine—which we all recognized still had an impact in our work this time around. Following the conclusion of the exercise, the disco insights team added one more bullet to his list:
Evaluating data is not a solo task. We found when we came together, we were able to expand our insights, compare and contrast our data findings, and discuss additional ways to innovate our projects. We recognized how important it is to discuss our data and projects to build an even stronger story. Additionally, everyone regardless of discipline–ranging from the analyst to the strategist to the designer—should have an understanding of the data and the capabilities to use the information to communicate an effective message.
Our next steps? Recreating this activity in groups, so we can divide, concur, and create better analyses. Circle back with us in the next couple of months to see what we can draw up. Until then, let us know how CHIEF can help your organization make a bigger impact with numbers!