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Eye Detail

In commercial terms, how we perceive information determines how we process, interpret and action it. Our brains are wired to process visual information and how we do this ensures we are leveraging Data Visualization to full effect.

The processes behind Data Analytics mirror the brain’s own functions. Initially your brain processes visual stimulus through the retina, then to the thalamus, then the primary visual cortex and the association cortex. At each stage, there are filters that our brains apply to determine whether this information is relevant enough to continue processing. We call this ‘rubbish in’ ‘rubbish out.’ Because it is important for information to be understood quickly and easily this where Data Visualization comes into its element.

Using the Right Chart for the Right Job

Colour Wheel 2

Pre-attentive processing occurs within the first 200 milliseconds of seeing a visual. Colour, form and pattern are discernible during this phase. This is why spotting a red jelly bean in a bowl of white jelly beans is really easy.

Bar Charts illustrate a snapshot of the information better than line charts, allowing you to make a split second assessment of the value of what you are seeing. Then comes the fun part….using the correct colours to create a story enables you to emphasise information through a universally acknowledged cognitive alphabet. Red…danger, Blue…all is well, Green…growth and action, Yellow…of interest…Pastel Tones are more soothing on the eye…and so forth.

Because we discovered the world through colour and shape, our long term memory allows us to interpret Visual Data with split second clarity.

To get the best use out of colour, when building a Dashboard theme, follow a line of colours around the spectrum for tone on tone harmony.

Memory is the Key to Data Visualization

Psychologists put it like this; we have 3 memory components. Sensory, Working [Short Term] and Long Term. How we use them is based on a push/pull & slow / fast processing system.

Slow processes information in the present. What is 73 x 62? Fast dips into the pre-programmed paradigms and draws fast conclusions based on experience patterns of knowledge. What is 2×2?

The Sensory Register is the component of memory that holds input in its original, unencoded form. Probably everything that your body is capable of seeing, hearing is stored here. In other words, the sensory register has a large capacity; it can hold a great deal of information at one time.

Working Memory [short-term-memory], is the component of memory where new information is held while it is being processed; in other words, it is a temporary “holding bin” for new information. Working memory is also where much of our thinking, or cognitive processing, occurs. It is where we try to make sense of say this blog or solve a problem. Generally speaking, working memory is the component that probably does most of the heavy lifting. It has two characteristics that Data Analytics works around: a short duration span and a limited capacity.

Long-Term Memory is the Hall of Permanent Record. Long-term-memory is capable of holding as much information as an individual needs to store there; there is probably no such thing as a person “running out of room.” The more information already stored in long-term memory, the easier it is to learn new things.

Data Analytics brings together components of memory function and interconnects the relations through holding patterns. So when we process Analytics and Act on them, we essentially create a ‘new permanent record.’

This is what makes us smarter, faster and efficient.

Creating your Optimized Business Candy with Data Visualization

When building an Analytics Dashboard consider; The Story you are trying to build and the Questions you want answered. Encourage discovery of Hidden elements and pull together Relevant information. Present clear Relationships between 1 data set and another and choose the Correct Chart to illustrate your scenario. Pay particular attention to colour, objects, shapes, patterns and amount of information.

Quick Study: Line or Bar?

  • Lines Graphs: Demonstrate the continual nature of data and pattern.
  • Bar Charts: Illustrate value and variables, prominent attributes and ranking.
  • Bar Stacks: Show the values, contribution and ratio in blocks.
  • Percentages: Shift  emphasis from quantity to relative differences.
  • Cumulative: Summarise  all variables along a timeline.


AnyData works with natural brain tech to bring Data and Business together. Get the most out of Data Visualization by visiting our Learning Centre and watching the How To Videos.

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