Data Visualization Part 4: Telling a story

RG+A Market Research-Data Visualization-P4

Welcome to Part 4, the final part, of our series on data visualization!  (Journey back to Part 1 of the series)

Complex findings require many moving pieces to be held in the mind at once to grasp the full picture.  In our DPS® studies, for instance, RG+A determines not only what will happen, but also where, when, and why.  Answering these questions provides a comprehensive view of the overall market space and the decisions physicians make that create the prescribing environment.

The first step RG+A takes is to ensure we are displaying comparisons intelligently.  When showing multiple comparisons at once (i.e., distinct brands across separate lines of therapy at different time points), we prioritize between comparisons and ensure that the most important comparison is the most easily grasped.  Typically, this means that the groups making up the highest priority comparison end up next to each other and most “internal” to the visualization.  As priority lessens, we can increase the spacing between the components of each comparison.  Proximity implies importance.

Consider the spacing between comparisons - is it more important for us to show how brands perform relative to each other at each timepoint, or is it more important to show how brand share changes internally across time points?
Consider the spacing between comparisons – is it more important for us to show how brands perform relative to each other at each timepoint, or is it more important to show how brand share changes internally across time points?

This series started with a discussion of why data visualization is important – to decrease the burden our projects place on you.  RG+A employs several additional tactics that support this task by focusing on data and story communication.  While less directly about visualization, these tactics are applicable to visualization while also directing our overall formatting and report layout.

The first of these tactics is that we endeavor to employ “chunking” throughout individual visualizations, slides, and reports – and to keep the number of chunks to within the magical number of 5 +/- 2.  Also known as Miller’s Law, this number provides a basis for the limits of managing multiple pieces of information.  By limiting the number of key takeaways, supporting statements, comparisons, etc., to the 5 +/- 2 rule, we ensure that we are chunking the information presented into manageable and digestible sections.

Simplification of treatment algorithms based on the bounds set by Miller's Law can help communicate the general situation, with subsequent slides digging deeper into key sequences.
Simplification of treatment algorithms based on the bounds set by Miller’s Law can help communicate the general situation, with subsequent slides digging deeper into key sequences.

Once our key points have been chunked for easy absorption, we review to ensure that the report is organized in a meaningful way.  A key watch-out at this stage is avoid the creation of a data-dump where the deliverable is simply a direct report of responses at each question asked.  This is a market research application of Conway’s Law – for any organization, the final product mimics the system of organization that created the product.  RG+A avoids data-dump reports because such reports put the onus on our clients to identify what data among the report answers key business questions.  We ensure that our reports have a clear narrative and tell the story of client brands or portfolios. We have implemented a process in which the penultimate step in writing a report is a storyboarding meeting where we review the project objectives and study results and collaboratively design a story that most effectively and efficiently communicates the information necessary to empower our clients to make business decisions.

In this series of posts, we hope to have conveyed the thought and effort that is infused within RG+A’s approach to data visualization.  Our charts and graphs are true to the data (both accurate and not misleading).  We focus on designing graphics and slides to make it easier for our clients to identify and understand the data.  Finally, we tie our analyses together to build a cohesive brand or portfolio story.

Our process is designed to highlight key insights in a manner that makes it easy for our clients to digest and use.  While the tactics discussed are primarily internal, the overall process from survey and materials creation through reporting is highly collaborative to ensure we clearly communicate the necessary information required for our clients to make business decisions.

What tips do you have for making data visualization impactful?  What challenges have you encountered?

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Thank you for joining us on our journey through data visualization in market research.