Embarking on a data visualization project can be immediately fraught with frustration and the sense of being overwhelmed. There are a few golden rules that should help keep those feelings at bay.
Be willing to summarize
Speak the summary of your data into the room. What do you think you’ll find? What do you want to express? What can you confidently summarize on the back of a napkin or whiteboard at the front of the room? Keep this in the forefront of your mind and at the top of the conversation. The data that supports these simple summary visualization is the target of your first effort.
Keep it simple
Resist the temptation to complicate the visualization with multiple views, aspects, and variables. Keep it simply – develop the background for your summary. This is all you are trying to achieve.
Less is more
Resist the temptation to show all the data or use all the data sources regardless of their relevance. Further, don’t cave to the need to show everything to the user – these are summaries – the at-a-glance aspect of a visualization – going deeper or further afield isn’t useful at all yet.