1) Doing too much with your data
Data can feel like a treasure trove that you’ve been sitting on for the life of your organization. Gosh, it oughta tell us so much! Golly, there’s so much of it! Slow your roll and do less. Take the time to find summary data and overarching conclusions before trying to dig down into the details. Doing too much is the fast path to misusing your data and getting overwhelmed by the volume. Data is most valuable in the aggregate.
2) Mashing up mis-matched types
Keep your head about mashing up different sources and different types of data. It isn’t that they aren’t related, but you need to be smart about mashing them up. Take your time and understand each type of data, the weaknesses, and implications. Ask your questions and come to an understanding before mashing anything up.
3) Trying to show too much
When you make a move to expose your data to others – your members or the public – don’t make the mistake of trying to show too much. Assume people aren’t interested in the finest details, the nitty-gritty. If you’ve gotten this far without becoming overwhelmed yourself, don’t blow it by overwhelming everyone else.
4) Catering to too broad an audience
Take the time to understand your audience. Not everyone needs to know everything – not because it’s important to keep secrets but because they aren’t interested. No one can tell who-who is interested in what so you need to work that out yourself. Keep in mind that true “data people” are probably most interested in the whether or not the data is “valid” and possibly in access to the raw data. The rest of your world is interested in the conclusions and some light interactivity.