Design Basics

Variation and Its Discontents

Funnel Plots for Fair Comparisons by Stephen Few and Katherine Rowell Central to quantitative data analysis is an understanding of variation. When we measure multiple occurrences of things to determine how and to what extent they differ, we’re examining variation. … Continue reading

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Posted in Communicating Data to the Public, Data Analysis, Design Basics, Editing Charts & Graphs, Graphs | 1 Comment

My Dashboard For Your Bubble-Gum

I wish I had a nickel for each time a person has asked me to share an example of a good healthcare dashboard. If I did, I’d have a whole lot of nickels, which I would use to buy a … Continue reading

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Posted in Communicating Data to the Public, Dashboards, Design Basics, Know Your Audience, Newsletters | 2 Comments

You Can Learn A Lot From a Watermelon Mojito

Sadly, the long, lazy afternoons making and sipping my favorite summer cocktail — a watermelon mojito — are winding down. I love this drink, made with fresh watermelon purée, mint, lime juice, simple syrup, and light rum. The layering of … Continue reading

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Posted in Best Practices, Communicating Data to the Public, Design Basics, Graphs, Newsletters, Tableau, Tables | Leave a comment

3 (Really Good) Reasons Not to Use Gauges

Every August for the past 30 years, we have vacationed on Bustins Island in Casco Bay, Maine (check out my September 2011 newsletter about this slice of paradise). You can get to the island only by boat; for us, this … Continue reading

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Posted in Design Basics, Graphs, Newsletters | 3 Comments

A Profoundly Moving Data Display

This past Memorial Day I was greatly moved by news stories about the courage and sacrifice of so many in service to our country. It was also a quiet time for me to reflect on the memorials erected to commemorate … Continue reading

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Posted in Communicating Data to the Public, Data Analysis, Design Basics, Etcetera, Know Your Audience, Newsletters, Point of View, Tables | Leave a comment

Peace, Love, Joy and Personas

We keep this great stack of cards in the dining room: it’s called “TableTopics: Questions to Start Really Great Conversations.” Questions range from “would you prefer to spend money for a housekeeper, a cook, a gardener, or a personal secretary?” … Continue reading

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Posted in Best Practices, Communicating Data to the Public, Design Basics, Etcetera, Know Your Audience, Newsletters | Leave a comment

Cupcakes and Cognitive Overload

I don’t know what was going on last week but people (well, me) were overwhelmed and weary. You know the signs: you call your kid by the dog’s name (repeatedly), miss all of your appointments because you think it is … Continue reading

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For the Font of It

Dr. Fizzy McFizz at DocCartoon.com has identified the seven types of physician handwriting she encountered during her medical training. I’m not a physician, but—I’m embarrassed to admit—my handwriting fits squarely into category #7: “Had 30 Seconds to Write.” I disclose … Continue reading

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Posted in Best Practices, Dashboards, Design Basics, Graphs, Newsletters, Tables, Typography | Leave a comment

Giving the Gift of Deviation

Here is some unsolicited advice to all gift-givers. If a loved one asks for the gift of a scale to check his or her weight, don’t be the one to give it to them. It doesn’t matter how cool the … Continue reading

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Posted in Design Basics, Graphs, Newsletters | 1 Comment

Stale Donut (Charts)

The other day, I was looking over some reports I’d received from a new client when I came across a doughnut chart. Suddenly, for some inexplicable reason — and to no one in particular — I heard myself quoting Homer … Continue reading

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