Some things are really cool – What analyzing the IronViz feeders taught me

I’m doing a webinar on IronViz and got a chance to really look at the entries of a few people.  I look, but I limit how deeply I look usually.  What’s even cooler – I was able to ping the original authors and every single one got back to me very quickly and was more than willing to let me run with it.  If I hadn’t said it enough, thank you – you kids are really cool cats.

I originally come from a profession where – despite the work being highly visible – it’s rare to see another interpreter interpret.  Occasionally, you do team interpreting, but with that you’re not observing and learning as much as you could.  No, you’re supporting, catching words and ideas the other person may have missed, resting, trying to style-match, and getting ready to take over at some point.  So, the fact that dashboards are tangible, easily shared, and so readily offered up to things like this, well, I’m just in awe.

I’m not looking at these as critique.  I’m looking to see what they did, how it supported (potentially) winning (I’m spitballing here), and what I can take from it.  But, it’s rare for me to get to really spend the amount of time I did ripping these apart (from a mechanical sense – deconstructing would probably be a better word, but I claim Tableau toddlerhood in a number of ways).  I’m looking to at these to learn, to steal business ideas (sorry, cats), and to maybe get an idea of what it takes to win an IronViz (good luck, kids).

So, what themes did I find?

Get ’em hooked.

Every single one of these vizzes I looked at had a strong lede.  That’s not to say others didn’t, but I only looked at these 4.  It was very clear from the moment you laid eyes on these vizzes what they were about.  Sometimes, it was a big chart, others an image, and a few some leading (but minimal) text.  It made you wonder what it was and forced you to keep looking.

Keep moving!

There was a definite pace to how each dashboard unfolded.  They were all well balanced and clearly defined.  One person used the literal storypoints function, another sheet swapping/filtering to simulate it, and 2 others segmented through design in one composition.  The pacing was balanced – not something I can say about my running techniques (or lack thereof).

Analyze deeply, display simply.

Sometimes, we call this storytelling, which may or may not help our case.  I come from a profession with ‘storytelling.’  It’s an art form in American Sign Language and, frankly, there’s nothing else like it.  Each of these showcased a superb level of analysis – they took their topic and distilled it, so I could get it (toddler test) and even hand it to someone not data-articulate to understand as well.

Surprise and delight.

Each of the winning vizzes did something to surprise and delight.  Whether it was using mobile, adding in technical feats of strength, or finding unconventional ways to build, they did something that was unexpected.

Act now!

These visualizations didn’t give information – they wanted you to do something about it.  Every single one of them had some way to do something, whether it was picking a favorite, making a diet change, or creating political change, each of these dashboards wanted you to do more.

Curious to learn more?

[Insert shameless plug of your choice here.]  I plan on going over each one in detail with ideas for business (and conjecturing on winning the last IronViz feeder – but I’m hardly an expert here).  But if you do attend and win the final one, I take payment in tea or ice cream.  Or at least a shout out on Twitter.  Or, you can do what I plan to do and steal this stuff for work.  I highly recommend it.

And, yes, Joshua is letting me run solo on this one.  Terrifying, right???  I need all the support I can get here, kids.

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