Visitor Research Forum 2020: Friday 22 May 2020

logosYes – we’re going ahead with our annual Visitor Research Forum! Thanks to the University of Canberra this will take place online. At this stage we have around 150 people registered but we can still take more.

Go here to book – it’s online, all day (10-4pm) and free to attend! Once you register, you’ll be sent a link with how to access the conference.

Below is a brief outline of sessions.

Kristy Ryan and Abbie McPhie, National Museum Australia

Looking at ways to gain a deeper understanding of consumer interests and engagement patterns with online offerings given the detailed reporting available through the digital platforms in use. With a greater understanding of these patterns, cultural institutions will have a unique opportunity to commercialise the digital offerings moving forward, creating new platforms to generate own sourced revenue from activities that are not limited to on-site visitation.

Joanne Aley, Researcher, Social and Behavioural Science Team, Te Papa Atawhai / Department of Conservation

Kauri dieback disease holds a significant conservation risk for threatened kauri (Agathis australis) rees in New Zealand. While people’s levels of awareness of kauri dieback disease continues to increase, compliance of trail users at forest hygiene stations has not similarly increased. To overcome this knowledge-behaviour gap, five behaviour change treatments were tested for their effectiveness to increase visitor compliance at trail user hygiene stations. Results included two effective methods, one inconclusive, one ineffective, and one which surprised us.

Indigo Holcombe-James, RMIT University

Museums, galleries and artist collectives around the world are shutting their doors and moving online in response to coronavirus. But engaging with audiences online requires access, skills and investment. My research with remote Aboriginal art centres in the Northern Territory and community museums in Victoria shows moving to digital can widen the gap between urban and regional organisations.

Dominic O’Connor, George Martin, Alexandra Kenny and Cris Kennedy, Parliament House, Canberra

Parliament House has been running tours since first opening its doors in 1988. In recent years much data has been collected on visitor numbers and particularly data about tour patrons, but the recent COVID closure has allowed the APH Visitor Engagement team the time to properly analyse and interpret. We share figures, some of our key interpretations, and discuss strategic and financial decisions this analysis allows us to consider.

Darcie Carruthers, Conservation Campaigner, Zoos Victoria

In the Australian summers of 2017 and 2018, the number of Bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) undertaking the annual 1000km migration plummeted from an estimated 4.4 billion to an almost undetectable number. With the 2019 summer approaching and uncertainty abounding as to whether Bogong moths would migrate in any great numbers, Zoos Victoria launched two emergency community interventions. ‘Lights Off for the Bogong Moths’ and the citizen science platform ‘Moth Tracker’ sought to raise awareness about the plight of the species, fill knowledge gaps and empower eastern Australians to undertake a simple act to assist them on their journey. Campaign evaluation will be included in the presentation.

Dr Lynda Kelly, LyndaKellyNetworks and Louise Halpin, AGNSW, Art Pathways Plus: engaging students with art – a three-year research program

Art Pathways Plus (APP), a schools-focused arts program developed and delivered by the Art Gallery of NSW, provides innovative, creative and active learning opportunities in Western Sydney school communities. Working collaboratively with arts professionals and organisations in Western Sydney, APP aimed to address challenges which impact on educational participation and engagement with the visual arts for both students and teachers. An evaluation was conducted across three-years (2017-2019) to gain insights into the impact and benefits of the program for all participants, gathering  data to come to a deeper understanding of how the program inspires students, what they learned, how the program affected and changed them in some way, particularly in their relationship with the visual arts.

Garry Watson, National Capital Educational Tourism Project

Garry will provide a summary on recent research into the Size and Effect of School Excursions to the National Capital, showcase the latest innovation in booking access to Canberra attractions and touch on the challenges faced by educational tourism in the current crisis and what opportunities are there are in the recovery period.

Jeffrey Skibins, East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) and Ashley Kelly, Central Coast Council NSW

Amid increasing anthropogenic threats to wildlife, many zoos are focusing on influencing visitors’ conservation attitudes and behaviours. Recently, some zoos have begun utilizing technology to improve engagement with exhibits and campaign messaging. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the immersive, interactive TigerTrek Exhibit at Taronga Zoo (Sydney, Australia) for its ability to influence attitudes, behavioural intentions, and behaviours related to tiger conservation and Certified Sustainable Palm Oil advocacy and consumerism. By understanding visitors’ perceptions of interpretive messaging and the types of conservation behaviours visitors are willing and able to engage in, zoos can more effectively achieve their conservation campaign goals.

The VRF is supported by The University of Canberra, Faculty of Business Government and Law, and the Business School, University of Queensland, as well as the Evaluation and Visitor Research National Network, AMaGA.

Hope to ‘see’ you there! You can also follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #VRF2020.

Notes from Audience Segmentation webinar, 29 April 2020

Thanks all for attending, and to Lucinda and AMaGA (and aarnet) for hosting.

It was so great to get a segmentation overview from Jo (find out what segment you are here) and Carolyn for all the work that Museums Victoria are doing conducting research in this area and for offering to share.

Three pre-readings for the session:

Here’s my slides from today’s presentation. As mentioned in the webinar, these thoughts are rather rambling and ever-changing – as is our situation it seems…

Very grateful to all those who are generously sharing their ideas, reflections, data and links. It has been very gratifying, and I know why Australians are feeling a greater sense of solidarity.

Our sector certainly models that each and every day.

Physical spaces – what can GLAM do post-COVID? Part 3

tables 2This, the third post for the webinar Audience segmentation in times of crisis, focusses on physical spaces post-COVID.

Following on from my two previous posts, which mostly focussed on audiences pre and post-COVID, I have gathered resources about what GLAM could do to allay potential concerns for visitors about crowded spaces, hands-on experiences and hygiene. have found a range of articles, but feel free to add others in the comments as I’m sure there’s many more!

Richard Florida, CityLab, We’ll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First

An interesting macro-look at what cities will need to do in order to ‘safely’ re-open. Florida looks at areas of transport, local economies, large gatherings (sports for example), valuing front-line workers, as well as:

“The creative economy of art galleries, museums, theatres, and music venues, along with the artists, musicians, and actors who fuel them, is also at dire risk. Cities must partner with other levels of government, the private sector and philanthropies to marshal the funding and expertise that is needed to keep their cultural scenes alive. Once they are allowed to reopen, they will also need to make interim and long-term changes in the way that they operate. Cities should mobilize to provide advice and assistance on the necessary procedures — from temperature screenings, better spacing for social distancing and the like — for these venues to reopen safely.”

artnews. People Need Art in Times of Crisis. That’s Why Museums Should Be Among the First Institutions to Reopen for Business—Here’s How

“Museums could offer people who have experienced weeks of isolation a safe place to go, or a reprieve from cramped quarters. Their opening would signal the beginnings of a return to normalcy. What’s more, once the public is back, museums can serve as hubs of education, information-sharing, and collective reflection as we work together to surmount this crisis.”

The author suggests six key ways museums could re-open and reassure the public, which is also based on what some museums in China are doing:

  1. “Devise a timed-entry system in which visitors arrive on the quarter-hour, for example, in limited numbers. As a condition of buying a ticket, ask about active symptoms. Consider adopting the practice of temperature-taking at the door.
  2. Take special precautions to protect the most vulnerable. Dedicated entrances or opening hours may be helpful.
  3. Lean more on younger staff, especially for public-facing roles.
  4. Make face masks obligatory, and available.
  5. Enforce indoor distancing etiquette.
  6. In addition to having hand sanitiser all over the place, if public-health experts suggest it, install some kind of full-body disinfecting station at entry points.”

Museum Notes blog. Imagining Interactive Museum Experiences Post-COVID 19

This blog post looks into interactive spaces and how museums might reimagine these post-COVID:

“The interactive museum experience that invites touching is likely to undergo transformations in a post-COVID-19 world. With hands-on, multi-sensory engagement with objects and materials at the heart of children’s museum and science centre experiences, the impact is likely to be significant. However, since most, if not all, types of museums rely on hands-on, interactive spaces and experiences to some extent in their galleries, programs, family spaces, and festivals, changes to interactive experiences will affect the field more broadly.”

Other points that resonated included re-thinking of children as audiences – currently adults and children are often separated in museum spaces. Now, with the forced isolation, families are (may be?) more used to and willing to learn together as a group within the one space – not as separate units. There is also “Shifting from immersive environments to immersive experiences” which addresses many concerns visitors may have with touch exhibitions and activities. VR may become a big factor here.

There’s lots of good advice in this article, and it is recommended reading.

Museum Archipelago Podcast. The Future of Hands-On Museum Exhibits with Paul Orselli

This podcast is full of fascinating history about the origins of interactivity in museums and the importance of these approaches for both enhancing learning via hands-on activities and to reach broader audiences. The point is made (as in many of these other articles) that hygiene, while an important issue, is not going to solve the (potential) worries about touching.

I’m also liking the idea that Orselli makes that many interactives, such as flip labels, are essentially ‘empty’ and poorly thought through, and that COVID-19 will make interactives ‘work harder’ for the visitor, forcing museums to:

“… think, well, how could we provide a satisfying experience and what are the interfaces or other kinds of opportunities that we could provide that would let people, you know, that would carry the content, that would carry the emotional ideas that we want to carry across?”

Orselli predicts the end of the touch screen, discussing different ways of interaction, such as gesture-based or voice-activated (ideas that are also being explored by Jim Spaddacini of ideum in the US – one article about touchless interaction is here).

AASLH. After the Pandemic: Thinking Ahead

A good think-piece about what visitor experiences post-COVID may look like, asking key questions such as:

“Will our former visitors seek a different kind of experience from what we used to offer? What if the burst of online programming were to displace altogether the community- and visitor-focused activities developed and tested over time?”

The authors are asking for new thinking, now, with calls for museums to be more nimble, flexible and relevant, and that “We may need to give less attention to long-term planning and more attention to a continuous process of strategic thinking.”

While these ideas aren’t new (as many thinkers have been wanting this for years), I guess at the moment they are not only more urgent to address but the pandemic providing an incentive and an opportune moment to actually change. Will museums take up these challenges??

Some Final Good News!

To finish on a positive note here’s the MCN-generated list of online resources developed by GLAM and performing arts, and Jenni Fuch’s list of Online Museum Resources for Kids & Families – and all done in record time, which is pretty impressive!

Reminder, the webinar, Audience segmentation in times of crisis, will be held later today (3pm AEST). Still places left so book here.

Post-pandemic audience behaviours and business models: Part 2

online shoppingThis, the second post for the webinar Audience segmentation in times of crisis, focusses on consumer behaviour and how GLAM needs to think about business models post-COVID.

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) After the Pandemic: Thinking Ahead

The key point here is that rather than expending all our energies on uploading digital materials (“placing markers on the internet”), and focussing on financial futures, they argue that:

This is—or should be—a moment for reflection within the field. … what will [the world] look like after the pandemic. Will our institutions survive in anything like their previous forms? Will our former visitors seek a different kind of experience from what we used to offer? What if the burst of online programming were to displace altogether the community- and visitor-focused activities developed and tested over time?

We will probably have to be much more nimble and flexible to stay relevant and keep up with sudden sweeping changes. We may need to give less attention to long-term planning and more attention to a continuous process of strategic thinking. The harsh reality is that we cannot know for sure how things are going to play out, but we need to begin preparing ourselves for a very different future. We need to start finding ways to adjust to and be comfortable with that future, and we need to start now.

Forbes. Consumer Behaviour in The New Normal

Looks at three changes to ways consumers will behave:

  1. Gratification – people will still want to purchase indulgences, but affordable ones
  2. Agency – people want to have control over what they spend, citing research that shows “… almost 90% of U.S. shoppers are expressing a preference to shop in contactless stores.”
  3. Stability – consumers will stick with tried and tested brands

These are mostly good news for museums, as long as they think about the experiences they will now offer, coupled with marketing messages in a post-COVID-19 world.

Fidelity charitable COVID-19 and philanthropy: How donor behaviours are shifting amid pandemic (via AAM)

Although this is US data there’s some good news here as most donors “… plan to maintain—or even increase—the amount they donate to charity this year” and “do not plan to shift their giving to different organizations in light of the pandemic; they will stay the course by continuing to support their favourite non-profits”. They do report however that volunteering may decrease (I guess this is an age-related issue) so that’s not good for our sector.

The next (and final) post will look at physical spaces and GLAM post-COVID.

Go here to book for the webinar being held on Wednesday 29 April, 3pm AEST.

Audience segmentation in times of crisis: Further information and readings Part 1

mona lisa mask

IMAGE: Widewalls website

What do our audiences look like in this time of COVID-19? How are we thinking about audiences as we scramble to move resources, programs, collections and exhibitions online? What this may mean for audiences of the future – will we revert to business as usual? Or will the ways we work with audiences radically change?

Our webinar won’t (necessarily) answer these questions, but will be a facilitated discussion to come to some shared understanding about audience segmentation now and in the future, and other issues we need to be thinking about.

I found these resources hugely helpful when thinking about this session (and because there’s so much info out there I’ll be posting as a series).


The National Archives (UK): Don’t get trampled in the online rush: Advice for making archive collections accessible during the shutdown.

Key points:

“… in a rush to digital, important things sometimes get forgotten. Why you’re doing what you’re doing. The needs of your audience. Who precisely you’re aiming to reach.

… make sure you are writing for the platform you are working on. If we just cut and paste exhibition text on to a website, we will end up with a very strange website. We have to produce content that reflects the functions and norms of the sites we are using.”

The Adelaide Review, From Zoom to Minecraft, what will the ‘new normal’ for Australian museums look like?, via an interview with MOD Director, Kristin Alford.

Key points:

“But looking more broadly, Alford suspects the period of downtime will usher in some long-lasting, and perhaps overdue, shifts in how the public engages with museums – and vice versa.

There are questions of whether this environment will allow some better practices around online learning to emerge; we have to start thinking, ‘is a mix of physical and online exhibitions what we should be doing in the future?’ And how do we do things in both spaces?”

Peak Experience Lab, Empathetic Audience Engagement During The Apocalypse

This article is great and worth reding in full! Really got me re-thinking how we could frame audiences that are largely self-isolating at home. There is reference to a shared Google doc that outlines a range of ‘new’ segments which I have grouped under headings and edited slightly:

Emotional segments:

  • People who are bored, adrift
  • People who are lonely
  • Stressed out / scared people, grieving people
  • Angry and stressed teachers

Education segments:

  • Desperate homeschooling parents
  • Teachers at sea
  • Higher Ed / university / TAFE now teaching online
  • Eager learners

Recreational segments:

  • Essential workers looking for some downtime activities / entertainment
  • Museum constituencies (special interest/core audiences for content)
  • Those in search of self-enrichment


COVID-19 Updates: Know your own bone blog

The ever-reliable Colleen keeps us data-informed about visitor intentions whenever we get ‘back to normal’. One key question is “What will it take to make people feel safe and comfortable visiting cultural organisations again?”. The answer is pretty simple really, when a vaccine is available and once government lifts restrictions. As her research also shows, the public trusts our institutions, so visitors will also feel confirmable with our decision to re-open.

These results are being updated weekly so subscribe to keep informed.

Dexibit COVID-19 resource centre

Download their whitepaper, Leading in Crisis: Survive Then Thrive, for a detailed look at what institutions can do strategically. A point of particular note is:

“Though visitor attractions typically still do well in an economic downturn, they rely on an ability to open. When the very act of opening threatens staff and visitor health, or when visitors are afraid to come, the future is uncertain.” (p.5).

Interestingly a survey they conducted with small-mid-sized museums in North America found (p.8):

  • 28% had established a crisis response team prior to March 2020
  • 27% established during early days of crisis
  • 23% did not establish and don’t plan to
  • 22% will be establishing one / are in process of

Dexibit are running some fantastic webinars too – more here.

My next post in this series will cover Post-pandemic audience behaviours and business models so watch out for it!

Go here to book for the webinar being held on Wednesday 29 April, 3pm AEST, there’s still plenty of spots.

Audience segmentation in times of crisis: a Webinar



Image Courtesy National Motorcycle Museum of Australia


The aim of this webinar is to host a discussion for GLAM workers about what our audiences look like now, and speculate what this may mean for audiences of the future.

This interactive session is designed for those working in large and small GLAM and associated institutions, including volunteer-run.

There will be three presentations followed by a Q&A. We encourage participants to use the webinar’s chat function to discuss thoughts and issues raised as we go. The presentations plus the chat will be distributed to participants after the session.

This is a joint AMaGA National Office and Evaluation and Visitor Research National Network (EVRNN) event.


Audience Segmentation 101

Jo Brehaut, Director, Australia and New Zealand, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (MHM)

  • Jo will brief us on audience segmentation; what it is and how organisations use it in their business planning and operations. She’ll take us on a practical journey through Culture Segments; MHM’s bespoke segmentation system designed to support arts and cultural organisations develop strong, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with their audiences.

Audience Segmentation COVID-19

Dr Lynda Kelly, LyndaKellyNetworks / Convenor EVRNN

  • Lynda will discuss some new ideas around audience segmentation during this pandemic. Work from the US as well as other research and information will be presented to inform our discussions.

Using your “at-home” time to connect with audiences

Carolyn Meehan, Senior Manager Audience Insights, Museums Victoria

  • What better time to connect with and seek feedback from your audiences, members, volunteers and so on? Carolyn will talk about the role that audience research can play in these times with examples.

What might the new-normal look like?

  • We will also look at issues around what the ‘new-normal’ may look like for GLAM institutions in the future, especially for school and family audiences, leading into a general discussion about strategies and research we need to inform us.


The webinar will be held on Wednesday 29 April 3-4pm AEST. Go here to register.

A second blog post with references and initial thoughts will be uploaded prior to the session.

We’d love you to join us!

Identifying and Coping with Digital Media Wicked Problems #MCN2019

Claire Pillsbury: Four signs of a wicked problem

#1 There is no consensus on what the problem is. Different stakeholders have different descriptions of the problem.

#2 There is no agreement on the solution.

#3 Constraints are constantly changing and there are many inter-dependencies.

#4 Constraints also arise from interested parties that may come and go, change their minds, mis-communicate, or change the ‘rules’ of solving the problem.

Wicked Problems, or things I wish I knew before I put my hand up to be the digital go-to person

  1. Digital is not going away anytime soon #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  2. Any digital project is, by nature, an organisational change project. #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  3. Must take people with you, even if it’s kicking and screaming! #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  4. Everyone thinks they’re an expert in how to do digital. #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  5. “I can build a website, run a Facebook group, make a movie in a week. Why can’t you?” #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  6. The Director usually has no clue, gets seduced by the new and shiny (“Director specials”), and needs to be dealt with diplomatically… #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  7. Only the few still really ‘get’ social media, not the many. #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  8. Why does digital and marketing still remain at loggerheads and why is marketing and digital marketing / social media often still separate? #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  9. Design thinking and agile ways of working don’t necessarily fit in organisations, many of which, were essentially established on 19th century ways of working. #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  10. Dilemma! Do audiences want digital as part of their physical visit?? More here: (post)digital visitors, and I’m still hearing the same. #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  11. Framing the issues as “wicked problems” seems a good way forward for digital projects – gives everyone permission to stuff up and embrace complexity #wickedproblems #MCN2019
  12. My personal philosophy – just do it, apologise later, learn from mistakes, share and celebrate failures! An example in this post: #beaconfail #wickedproblems #MCN2019

doonside image 2

More about our session here.

Some resources:

New research in the cultural sector finds ‘invisible opportunity’ in people who already support you

media release image 2New research for the cultural and performing arts sector reveals that members/subscribers and volunteers may hold greater philanthropic value to organisations than has been previously assumed.

During 2018-2019 I worked with Deanna Varga (MBA), Director and Founder of Mayvin Global on this research project to test our hypothesis that an organisations’ existing supporters represent significant potential financial benefit, beyond their annual fee and time. We first proposed the idea for this research here.

Our report Members and Subscribers – Is it working for everyone? Is everyone working for them? confirms an untapped opportunity for organisations to reduce their fundraising effort by leveraging their existing supporter segments.

The research showed that factors originating within organisations hampered financial opportunity and reinforced the industry’s prevailing belief that members/subscribers and volunteers were a capped and limited revenue stream.

Deanna Varga:

The data suggests that organisations may be getting in the way of themselves when it comes to realising the full fundraising potential of their supporter segments. We found that internal factors, such as organisational structures and processes, and negative perceptions of value, were significant inhibitors and seemed to increase the ‘invisibility’ of members/subscribers as potential donors or philanthropists.

Changes to program mechanics, such as implementing auto-renewals, or simply asking for a donation, could have a significant impact – a surprising 63% of organisations do not offer auto-renewals and 29% do not invite members to fundraising events.

media release image 1A lack of industry specific reference data was a further challenge and obstacle to confident and informed decision making within the sector.

Lynda Kelly:

Unfortunately, consistent methodology across the sector for counting members/subscribers or collating membership data simply does not exist. This lack of consistent data makes it difficult for organisations to benchmark their programs and make informed and confident decisions about investing in the segment. In the absence of data, important decisions about member and subscriber programs seem to be run on ‘gut feel’, which only reinforces assumptions that we have found to be largely untrue.

We anticipate our research will start to challenge these assumptions and change the value perceptions of membership and subscriber options within the industry.

A summary of the research findings can be viewed here.

We are commencing phase two of our research to continue to build data around links with membership/subscribers and philanthropy. You can contribute this research by visiting this page.

Thanks to all who contributed to this research so far and we hope to reach a lot more of you in this next phase!

Meanwhile, here’s a sneaky preview of some of the findings:

media release image 3

Becoming a data-driven organisation

cleveland museum

As I’m looking into improved ways to collect and report KPI data, came across some great readings around how to better become a data-driven organisation – how to encourage staff across all levels to use data in everyday decision-making and, therefore, keeping the audience at the forefront of the museum’s work.

Elina Sairanen, a 2017 intern in MOMA’s digital department, wrote a useful piece, What Does Data Have to Do with It?, noting the following:

A defining characteristic of data-driven organisations is that they predominantly base their decisions in the rigorous analysis of data rather than are guided by the human mind and instinct solely. … Erik Brynjolfsson, et al (2011) found firms that adopt a data-driven decision-making approach have output and productivity 5–6% higher than what would be expected given their other investments and information technology usage.

… an essential requirement is to install and maintain an analytic culture. … not an overnight change and requires support from both senior management and staff at all levels as well as a shared understanding of importance of data for decision-making.

She outlines a series of tips from the field (which I have slightly adapted):

  • Create an organisational culture in which data is saluted and celebrated rather than disregarded
  • Establish cross-departmental communication concerning the use of data in your decision-making
  • Approach analytics and metrics strategically and formulate a plan to guide you through the transformation
  • Have a cross-departmental dialogue about specific metrics and goals that would be useful to your museum and related to your mission and KPIs

Finally, she notes that there are “… two important points to this action: spark an interest towards data within your museum and make sure people share the same understanding of the terminology and significance of the specific metrics”.

Forbes, Becoming A Data Driven Organisation, details many of the same ideas (again adapted):

  • Start with the why
  • Remember that your issue is probably not a lack of data, but too much data, stored in many different areas by many different people and, therefore, inaccessible
  • Conduct a simple data inventory (what I’m doing!!) – simple being the operative word – trying to be too comprehensive will take you down too many rabbit holes
  • Develop the skills within the organisation to manage and report on data – but delegate one (or two) people to take overall ownership

And then, “… building a team with actual business experience is equally critical to appropriately turn the analysis into actionable insights to guide the decision-making process”.

Overall lessons in creating a dashboard or visualisation from this series of posts (referenced below) are to:

  • determine what metrics are universally useful across the organisation – and what you may already have
  • identify the audience for the report(s)
  • design a visual report using pen and paper
  • not feel you have to report every analytic
  • use readily available tools (e.g. PowerPoint) and don’t try to be too fancy
  • go for it!

Finally, there’s a new research study being conducted by @DafJames and @katiprice, looking at how cultural organisations value and measure digital impact which is relevant to this discussion. You can take their survey here.

Previous Posts:

dilbert 2

Dilbert always comes to the rescue!

More on visitor reporting: data visualisation


Image: Innovation Network

Following up from my previous blog post on dashboards, Reporting Visitor Data: are Dashboards (one) Answer?, I came across some writings about data visualisation with some handy tips around changing the way data is collected and reported on.

First, Building a Culture of Effective Data Visualisation, by Stephanie Evergreen of Evergreen Data, notes that when applying visualisation to your data, think about the following:

  • Acknowledge fears – change is hard and people are unlikely to change until their hesitations are acknowledged
  • Remember that “… people have to take time out of their busy lives to learn new skills. People are already overwhelmed with work and this would be (at least, initially) adding more to their schedules”

One tip it to make the timeline and sequence of reporting steps clear so that people could see what to expect when designing a dashboard / visualisation

And something really important – make the best of the tools you already have – this will help in managing change and acknowledging fears as they don’t really have to learn something new (well, not necessarily…).

Some online resources from Evergreen Data:

This post, 7 Tips To Get Started with Data Visualization by Sara Vaca (via the AEA365 blog), has a set of tips, with the most relevant being to play around with data and visualisation tools, to just get started and that “… your brain, paper and PowerPoint is honestly all you need to start”.

A further AEA365 blog post, Data Visualization: From Sketchbook to Reality by folks from the Innovation Network, details six steps to developing an effective visualisation:

  1. Identify your audience
  2. Select key findings – which are most relevant to you and your audience?
  3. Grab paper and pencil and start to draw the findings in different ways (probably having a look at some examples would be helpful here, also think beyond generic chart formats
  4. Gather feedback on your sketches:
    • What does this visualization tell you?
    • How long did it take you to interpret?
    • How can it be tweaked to better communicate the data?
  5. Think about layout and supporting text
  6. Now digitise the drawings: translate the initial renderings into a digital format using basic software such as PowerPoint, Word, or Excel (at least for the first attempt)

So, planning to use these ideas in a workshop this week, along with my next post, Becoming a data-driven organisation, as more background.

We’ll see how it goes!