Storytelling With Data

Ok, I’ll admit it. This one has been sitting on my nightstand for quite some time. I ordered it a while back based on a glowing review, read the first few pages and thought “Eh, this isn’t for me.” I tell stories with data every day, I have created thousands of charts in my career, what could this book possibly teach me?

Then I saw a horizontal bar chart that I have definitely used before under the “eyesore” examples. Ouch.

In the end, I really enjoyed this read and started applying some of the principles right away. I realized that I am probably using too many colors in my data visualizations and need to be more selective in my use of colors. I have always believed that the power of effective data visualizations is that it resonates with the viewer in ways that other mediums (verbal, tabular data) just cannot match. I would suggest that every data scientist/analyst/person would benefit from reading this book, at any point in their career.

Favorite Part: Chapter 8 is aptly titled “Putting It All Together.” This chapter builds on chapters 1-7 with surgical precision, pulling topics from each section to take a standard, boring chart and transform it to a clean effective visualization. This is the kind of chart we should all strive for, one that a business partner or customer can look at for <10 seconds and gain insights and recommendations. This is Storytelling with Data.

Favorite Quote: “Designers know the fundamentals of good design but also how to trust their eye. You may think to yourself But I’m not a designer! Stop thinking this way. You can recognize smart design. By becoming familiar with some common aspects and examples of great design, we will install confidence in your visual instincts and learn some concrete tips to follow and adjustments to make when things don’t feel quite right.”

Greg Shick
Analytics / Data Science / Statistics