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A Data Picture is Worth More Than 1,000 Words

Posted by at Aug 25, 2009 10:12 AM CDT
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 Wordle: Convio Data Visualization

Like most professionals these days, I have to spend a fair amount of my time preparing presentations, to my boss, my colleagues, my clients, etc. This means time spent translating my thoughts into both words and pictures that convey the meaning in the best, clearest, and most persuasive way. I have noticed that, personally, I respond better to the presentations that rely more on the pictures than the words. I think a lot of other people do too, and I wondered why that is.


In a post on his blog, Logic + Emotion, David Armano mentions that 60 to 65% of people are visual thinkers, meaning that they do their “thinking through visual processing using the part of the brain that is emotional and creative to organize information in an intuitive and simultaneous way.” If this is true, than more than half of the people reading this post are already looking for the picture to get what I’m talking about. While the practice of using images to convey meaning is nothing new to humans, dating back to the earliest cave drawings, putting data into visual representations seems to have taken on a new life in this day and age where mashups are king on the internet. Below are some links to a great collection of data visualizations. You should check them out and be inspired by what you see to figure out how you could present your data more visually to engage constituents.

I came across a recent example of one our Convio’s clients, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, doing something really cool with data visualization called This Place Matters. The campaign creates an opportunity for you and I to share the places that had an impact on our lives, share our stories and hopefully inspire others. They visualize this great collection of places using mapping functionality, and they tie it all into their Convio system using our APIs. They have created a lot of ways for people to share, incorporating pictures as well. I loved looking at the map of all the places people have considered worthy of mention, drilling down into my own community and seeing some places very near me where I can go.


Playland 2

Not only was this a great engagement vehicle for a great organization, but it drove a lot of new constituent acquisition as well. You can read more about the campaign on the case study presented by Charity Dynamics, the partner who helped make this a reality.

I would imagine that all of your organizations have something that you could present in a visual way that would make it more likely that your constituents would engage with you. Find it, and be creative. You’ll be amazed at the result. FYI, there is a wordle at the top of this blog post, which is a visualization of the actual words written.


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