Making Data More Human: Tipi HQ’s Philosophy for Beautiful Data Visualization


It is our innate human ability to discern patterns rapidly and convert them into usable information. We developed this skill trying to survive on the African savannahs, which is why we tend to be able to do this more easily using visual information rather than numbers.

Our brains evolved to rapidly discern patterns

When it comes to understanding data, this trait is instrumental to comprehending the massive amounts of information we are receiving. It is the reason that people tend to understand trends through pictures better than a list of numbers.

The best data visualisations play on this ability to help people find relevance among millions of variables, and even predict the future using trends and correlations that might otherwise go undetected. Good visualisation is key to unlocking the story of data; it is the essential first step to achieving actionable insight after receiving information.

That is not to say, however, that creating meaning from data is simple. Imagine the thousands, even millions, of data sets that can influence a person’s understanding of something. Data before it has been visualised — raw data — is messy; to most, it is uninterpretable, and those nuggets of information that make it possible to uncover insights from within this raw data aren’t uncovered without good visualization.

Our brains process information displayed using data visualizations more rapidly than raw data

At Tipi HQ, we have championed the moto ‘data for humans’ to describe our design intentions. For data to be fully integrated into business practices, it needs to be understood at all levels of an organization. We don’t believe you should have to be a statistician to understand data. Instead, we believe that the users of our analytics platforms should sit firmly at the forefront of our minds during the design processes.

For this reason we work closely with businesses to determine what metrics will help them to overcome a problem. Not all data sets should be portrayed in the same way; the most effective visualisations are developed with context in mind.

As an example, we were working with a retailer to improve their average basket size by increasing the number of complementary sales they were making. A large part of creating a good solution for our clients is identifying the level that their particular data is being used at. For instance, whether the data will be used by the sales assistant in-store or whether it will be used by the company CEO to look across departments at specific key metrics.

This company decided that they needed to target the front-line staff who were the people engaging with customers regularly and performing transactions. These were the staff, therefore, who were primed to suggest complementary products to customers and make sales. They needed to measure the number of opportunities staff got to cross-sell products and how many times they were being successful in making complementary sales.

To create a successful dashboard we determined the hierarchy of information, where the most important content is at the top of our dashboards and the least important sits down the bottom.

We framed their dashboard to show the two most important metrics, the number of opportunities there were to cross-sell and the number of actual sales were made through cross-selling, across from each other at the top. Every time the staff in this company sign in they are able to quickly compare the figures to determine how successfully their campaign is going.

This dashboard allows users to quickly compare a cross-selling campaign

Another core tenet of our design process is to make our analytics visually appealing. While some may think it is unnecessary to focus on the aesthetics, we understand that beautiful design has the power to keep users engaged. Having an aesthetic that appeals to people and encourages them to turn on the software each morning, means that they are consistently interacting with the software and therefore their data. This isn’t to say, however, that we believe in complex design. At Tipi HQ, less is more. Beautiful dashboards don’t mean using a lot of colour or putting a lot of content in one dashboard; beautiful dashboards are simple — they help the user understand information quickly.

We tailor our bespoke data analytics to the particular needs of each business that we work with. With each of our clients we get to know them and their business inside and out. Our aim isn’t to simply prescribe a solution, we work with the people who will use our products to find the best ways to help them improve their business with data analytics.

For more info about Tipi HQ please visit our website at www.tipihq.com or contact us on twitter @TipiHQ.

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