Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Fundamental Principles of Analytical Design

2015-11-08 18.14.02

If you don’t own any books by Edward Tufte, it’s worth going to your local library and spend an afternoon admiring them (and learn about visualization and design in the process). But until you do, here are his fundamental principles of analytical design, from his book, Beautiful Evidence, summarized for your convenience:

  1. Show comparisons, contrasts and differences (because the essense of statistical reasoning is “to answer the question, ‘compared to what?'”).
  2. Put data in context: show causality, mechanism, explanations, systematic structure where possible
  3. Show multivariate data (i.e., show more than 1 or 2 variables)
  4. Completely integrate words, numbers, images and diagrams
  5. Provide documentation: where the data set was obtained, when, who created the visualization, what assumptions were made, what the overall presentation is about, etc.
  6. Get the best content. Content counts most of all: its quality and relevance.

It should answer the question, “why is it important to create this presentation?”

As with many outcomes, no technique alone will transform the output unless you start with great content, or “garbage in, garbage out”. Because you are going to spend significant resources on a presentation, it’s best to ensure your data and content are trustworthy.

Photo: White gazpacho beautifully presented by my friend at his house in Mountain View, California






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This entry was posted on December 28, 2015 by in books and tagged , , , .
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