Data Visualization expert Bill Shander shared with us his tips, tricks and best practices for converting your data into compelling communications, regardless of your audience or the medium. Bill has over 2 decades of experience decoding data and helping clients communicate big ideas online – from startups and nonprofits to global corporations. Want to learn how to put data to work for your startup? Read his advice below.
The Four Main Types of Content
In order to engage readers of all interest levels, you have to create different types of content for your audience. The first type is “Water Cooler Content.” This includes things like headlines, visuals, and quick, 30 second or less videos. Think of these like a movie preview. 80% of people will be satisfied with just that, but the other 20% will want to keep reading, and move onto “Cafe Content.” Things like blog posts, longer infographics, and 3-5 minutes classify as Cafe Content. The third level is the “Research Library Content” – things like 100 page PDFs and case studies. The final type of content is “Lab Content” which goes as in depth as an interactive data experience.
The point of offering all types of content is that people can self-select what—and how much—they want to read. A high level developer is going to want to learn about different things than a beginner, so if you want to appeal to everyone, variety is important.
What Should I Be Sharing Online?
Keep your content interesting and ever-changing. It is key to keep your audience engaged with new stories and unique images. Always, always, always, use an image. Sharing a long article that has images will be more beneficial than sharing a bad infographic. If you can incorporate visuals and interaction, people will love it.
All humans are wired for visual communications – 30-50% of your brain is dedicated to processing images, and it only takes 1/10 of a second to make sense of a visual scene. You process things before you’re even aware of it that you’re processing them, which is why data visualization is so powerful. When you read something without visuals, there is on average only a 6% retention rate three days after the fact, but with visuals, that number increases to 60%.
The key to creating data-driven content worth sharing is to start with determining what you want to say. Once you have a good idea, you can utilize tools like Excel, Tableau, InDesign, or Photoshop to create graphs and images that will compliment your articles. In no time you will be turning what looks like meaningless raw data into pieces that your audience can digest and share.