Category Archives: Visual Analytics–Best Practices

Game of Thrones
Interactions Among the Top 30 Characters

This visualization is from our final case study in our new TDWI course.

Using a template created in Lyra and customized in Vega (a D3-based language), we explore the interactions among the top 30 characters in Game of Thrones (data from the books on which the series is based.) Colors are indicative of “alliances” or groups and sizes of each character are indicative of their appearances interacting with the other top 30 characters. Continue reading

How long should my presentation be?

Always leave them wanting more!
–P.T. Barnum
Creator of “The Greatest Show On Earth!®

About our Presentation Length Calculator
Freakalytics-presentation-length-calculatorCreating compelling presentations that are clear and actionable are the lifeblood of successful analyst teams. Often, analysts have worked on problems for days or weeks and have much more material to present than is relevant or useful for the audience that will take action. To help analysts communicate effectively, we created the Presentation Length Calculator. It should provide useful guidance for how many slides to have ready in your presentation based on the amount of time you have for your meeting, the backgrounds of the key people in your audience and the level of decision-maker you are presenting for.

The formulas behind these recommendations are based on feedback collected from over 40 executives, more than 100 managers/directors and hundreds of experienced analysts. Of course, no formula is universal, so use these recommendations as guidelines and tailor them based on your industry, your company, your experiences with the audience and your success with past presentations.

The hardest part for many analysts is offering a course of action that is grounded in their analysis. However, for business decision-makers, this is where an analyst actually creates the greatest value for the company. Our data shows that making useful course of action recommendations is critical to the long-term success of analyst teams. If you are nervous about recommendations, a good approach is to share the level of uncertainty about your analysis and consider sharing how you will measure the success or need for course corrections as course actions are implemented by the decision-maker.

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Communicate Your Results, a Case Study from the
7th C of The Accidental Analyst

You can have brilliant ideas,
but if you can’t get them across,
your ideas won’t get you anywhere.

Engineer on the original Ford Mustang design team and
CEO during Chrysler’s comeback in the 1980’s.


From the Seven C’s of Data Analysis Framework
Maria is a Senior Sales Analyst for an online pet supply store described in our book, The Accidental Analyst: Show Your Data Who’s Boss. She was approached by marketing managers for insights on which states have the best opportunities for sales growth from additional marketing investment. Downnload Maria’s presentation for the marketing managers.
Here’s a checklist to help you communicate the results of your next analysis project.

Are you a straight “A” communicator?

Does your presentation have:
+ Audience-appropriate results?
+ Answers to the right questions?
+ Applicable metrics?
+ Attractive yet clean visuals?
+ Actionable insights, recommendation and decisions?
+ Attention-grabbing storylines?

Downnload Maria’s presentation for the marketing managers

Open source editor for D3 data visualization

d3-NY-Times-FreakalyticsAt Freakalytics, we’ve used the D3 data visualization library on several client projects and have been impressed with the nearly infinite set of graphing, charting and mapping possibilities. Unfortunately, we were less impressed with the high learning curve, level of effort and complexity involved in developing and customizing the desired visualizations.

Perhaps you have seen D3 in the New York Times? D3 examples like those in the New York Times are typically made by teams with expertise in D3 and related web technologies. Now, forward-leaning visual analytics companies like Qlik are opening their API to work in harmony with the wide range of D3 visualizations.

Now, the really good news! An open source effort at the Data Lab of The University of Washington has created Lyra, a point-and-click editor for creating D3 visualizations. We’ve used it and were impressed with it, so we wanted to share it with you as a learning resource or even a productivity tool. Keep in mind that Lyra is still experimental and requires some effort on your part to properly embed it in your work. The UW Data Labs has created some nice videos, tutorials, examples, a Wiki and a discussion group for your learning benefit.

One of the examples posted by the Data Lab is a classic data visualization piece, Napoleon’s March.