Towards the Optimum Visualisation – Cutting Through the Haze…

Alan Swanton @aswano23

I continue to be fascinated by how we can display the data and information we collect on a daily basis in different ways to help us tell a better story of competitive performance.  Not long after my last post on this site, l came across this –

On first glance scrolling down through the home page l was taken by the sheer volume of different options available, some all too familiar and others inquisitively interesting.  The search function across the top of the page grouping the charts by family, input, function and shape provided me with a useful filter through which to explore further. 

Having seen the range of options l expanded my search a little further and came across these 2 excellent sites:

I was especially taken by the many examples within  A practical example or a case study is always a good place to start and there are plenty to trawl through there.  I also likely the practical approach on which directed the reader towards most appropriate tools to use when building each chart type.  I think that I will certainly be looking to engage regularly with both of these resources over the coming weeks and months to help me get ideas.

Somewhat serendipitously, a recent share from Keith Lyons exploring the creation of more persuasive charts and graphs helped me to expand this thinking even further.  The article provides a brief overview of how the human eye picks up patterns which reaffirmed my thinking that

“our brains are much better at identifying differences in color rather than shapes.”

A further comment within the blog struck a cord with me:

“not only a high demand for data scientists but also those who know how to visualize and present data in an effective and persuasive manner.”

So it got me thinking about my own skillset in this domain, it certainly needs to be developed further.  This might be a task l take on over the long winter evenings to come.  As l continue to do so the following questions come to mind:

  • If the optimum approach is to have 1 clear message on each chart, when looking to display the relationship between 2 or more variables, should we potentially look to build each chart with layers, using a mouse click to toggle and progress through each successive evolutions of the data?
  • If less is more and simplification is the key, is interactive reporting the most appropriate method for this? I think it is a great starting point.

Thanks Keith for sharing this article and as with most conversations I have had with you, l am again left more questions than answers!!  I do believe that the thinking through of ‘THE HOW’ best to display the information we collect is in itself a valuable exercise….

I think l have ample resource here to expand my thinking with some practical examples of how this might look, all underpinned by a few core principles to guide me along the way.  Now l must ensure to block off some time in my work program to allow myself the time to explore these resources even further.

Photo credits

Machu Picchu – Huayna Picchu – Climbing The Mountains

Author: Alan Swanton

Alan has been working in elite performance sport in Ireland for the last 10 years. He is responsible for the planning, delivery and implementation of performance analysis services within Sport Institute Ireland, delivering service within boxing, Paralympic swimming and cycling across both the London and Rio Olympic/Paralympic cycles.

In knowing that at its core PA is a coaching tool and given the rapid development of sports related tools & technologies, he is interested in exploring how these can be integrated into the everyday activities and operating environment of the analyst. He has witnessed the growth and evolution of PA in Ireland over the last decade and is keen to explore the potential of building a PA community of practice in Ireland.