How to make a good data experience for your funders, board, and staff

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Data Viz UX, Episode 1

“UX” is one of those terms that pretty much everyone has heard. But those of us outside the tech or corporate worlds might politely nod at its mention and then wonder, “Wait, what's UX again?”

It means “user experience.” (No, experience does not begin with an X. Just another way in which the tech world is cooler than the rest of us.) And what exactly is user experience? It’s the experience we have with any product or service. The experience you had assembling 482 parts to make an Ikea dresser? Bad UX. The experience you had buying all your holiday gifts online and avoiding the mall? Good UX.

Data visualizations come with their own UX. There are some pretty sexy charts out there that dazzle at first sight but ultimately frustrate when you try to extract meaning from them.

So how can you keep your funders, board, and staff awake, engaged, and wielding data from the visualizations (aka vizes) you create? It involves knowing your users, choosing the right data, choosing the right viz, refining the viz, and testing it.

That’s way more than I can do in 60 seconds. But I promise to feed it to you in 60-second bites, starting next week. Until then, notice your own experiences trying to extract meaning from charts, maps, and graphs. What goes down easily? What makes you choke?

See other data tips in this series for more information on how to effectively visualize and make good use of your organization's data.