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It’s time to get serious about Twitter!

Today I am going to discuss getting started with Twitter. Why Twitter? Well, it is most applicable to the arenas I’m in (e.g., I-O psychology, evaluation, data visualization), but that doesn’t mean it is right for you. Depending on what sandboxes you’re playing in, you might need to consider multiple platforms (almost a guarantee) and Twitter might not be one of them. But, for now, let’s get Twitter savvy!

  1. Create a Twitter account. This seems simple enough, right? Yes, but I realize that this might still be on your to-do list. Make it happen! You will improve as you go along – not by planning forever and never actually doing it.
  2. Add a picture – seriously. Avoid using a logo or the default silhouette (it’s lame and doesn’t allow people to get to know YOU).Deven Wisner Twitter Bio
  3. Bio! I used to have what I would consider a lame bio, and I’m so glad I changed it. The day after I updated mine to something more unique, I was mentioned in an interview done by Dr. Stephanie Evergreen. They included a screen shot of my Twitter photo and bio. You better believe I was rejoicing that I changed my drab bio into something a little more hip. So, what do you put there?! This is a spot to market yourself in a few words, hashtags, and emojis. I’ve included mine as an example.
  4. Follow some awesome people. This is industry specific, of course, but my suggestion is checking out a few prominent players in your field. Check out who they’re following for other big names, and look at who is following them for up-and-coming connections. Click here for my profile.
  5. Set a schedule…I can’t stress this enough. I check twitter at least three times a day…once with my coffee, during lunch, and again after my evening workout. My posts are also on a schedule. Of course, I post sporadically as something interests me, but I always have a couple posts set to go out – no matter what! Note: People get discouraged because they don’t have many followers. Stop that. This takes time and effort.  The people you’re trying connect with as a professional aren’t your friends (at least not yet), so don’t expect an obligatory follow like you’d get from family on Facebook (kidding, of course). You’ll get there…it just takes time and effort!
  6. A schedule is great, but you need to set make goals. For example, you might make a goal of Tweeting three times and following two new people per day. After a couple weeks, you can reassess whether you can do more (MORE is better with Twitter but consistency is MOST important.

    Deven Wisner Twitter Goals
    This is an example from when I first started on Twitter.

If you want a personalized plan, or to discuss a different social media platform, contact me. I would be happy to develop a social media strategy based on your goals.

P.S. If you’re into I-O, Evaluation, and/or data visualization, you will find some awesome people under Nifty Resources.

New to Evaluation? Here are tips for plugging in!

As a new professional (or one that has recently pivoted) in evaluation, you might be wondering how to leverage yourself or “plug-in” to the community. The beauty of evaluation is its interdisciplinarity but that can make plugging in a little daunting (but not impossible!). Below are some tips on how to immerse yourself in the field!

Become an American Evaluation Association (AEA) member.

Not only will you be able to attend the yearly conference, you will have more opportunities to become involved than you will be able to sign up for. From professional development to peer-reviewed articles, AEA really does have a great compilation of resources for academics and practitioners.

Attend an AEA conference!

Deven Wisner AEA 2017 Evergreen
Me nerding out with Dr. Stephanie Evergreen at the Eval16

It is one thing to become a member and never go to a conference, but this is one conference I am willing to pay out of my own pocket to attend. If you’re looking to share and learn from others, find a job opportunity, or just network with others, this week-long event is a great investment. I can promise you one thing: the AEA conference is like no other (in a good way).

Deven Wisner AEA 2016 NametagFind your Local Area Affiliate on AEA.

Again, AEA is a great resource, and that isn’t just at an international level. They also support AEA affiliates, which means you can be involved throughout the year. This is a great way to meet evaluators near you, find out about independent work (if you’re into that), and further develop yourself as a professional. If possible, I suggest being part of a committee or the board. You will be stretched more than just being a member. We have all become members of organizations to never actually attend an event (c’mon, I know I’m not the only one).

Deven Wisner AZENet
Some of the great Arizona Evaluation Network board members I get to work with!

Join an AEA Topical Interest Group (TIG).

If you have a certain area (or maybe more than one) within the field of evaluation that strikes your fancy, get more involved through a TIG! You might have the opportunity to write a blog post, rate conference proposals, and/or be part of the yearly meetings (held at the AEA conference). Again, you will meet people with similar interests but with different levels of experience. I’m part of the Data Visualization and Reporting TIG, along with Research on Evaluation.

Refine your elevator speech.

Who are you? What’s evaluation? How do other people entitle what you do? All of these things are important. Be ready to explain what you do to others. Dividing my time between industrial-organizational psychology and evaluation means I’ve had to refine this for all areas of my professional life. My best advice is to think back to those family dinners…how do you explain it? Okay, take that and make it relatable each time you talk about it. UC-Davis has a good resource on this here.

Get on Twitter…oh yeah, I said it.

Evaluators are taking on Twitter and it is AWESOME! This is a quick way to see what the trends are and learn from others. Plus, you get to share your own thoughts and work. As someone who was anti-Twitter for a long time, I get it…you might be apprehensive. Twitter is the way to find little nuggets of information that can often times lead to great finds. So, if you haven’t already, create an account and start following other evaluators (pro tip: find one person you like and check out who they’re following)!

 

Deven Wisner Twitter

…and there you have it! Did I miss something? Feel free to share what has worked for you.

NEW – Additional tips from Ann K. Emery’s blog…

  1. Conference tips for new evaluators
  2. Newbie essentials
  3. Job hunting

P.S. Click here to read a blog I wrote for AEA365 as a Data Visualization and Reporting TIG member.

Formatting Tableau Filters!

Filters are awesome. One reason I love Tableau is that data visualizations aren’t static. How does that tie into filters? Glad you asked! Tableau makes it really easy for your stakeholders (i.e. end-users) to interact with their dashboard using filters. The only problem is that the filter you add on the back-end takes up a lot of room and, to be perfectly honestly, looks terrible. Luckily, I learned how to fix that, and I’m going to share it with you!

This post is most applicable when you’re visualizing data on a dashboard. So, assuming you have one, use a dashboard to test this out! I’m serious about keeping my client’s data private, so I am using a sample dataset.

The first thing you have to do is add a filter (well, make sure your monitored is plugged in too). Okay, okay, I know – not funny. But seriously, add a filter and select the dropdown “carrot” by hovering over the right filter. Opt to “Show Filter,” and be amazed as the filter options pop-up on the right side of your screen.

Deven Wisner Tableau Order Data Filter.png

Deven Wisner Tableau Show Filter.png

Jump to your dashboard, which would normally have a lot of other cool stuff on it. But, for the purpose of this post, we’re only focusing on the filter! So, you see the filter showing on the right side of your screen, and your years with associated number of records.

Deven Wisner Tableau Dashboard Jump.png

Now, as you can see, all your selections are there. You really couldn’t long for much more. Butttttt…it takes up a lot of space and it’s ugly. So, let’s hover over the right side of the filter box, click on it, and select the dropdown “carrot.” The first thing I do is change the filter to “Floating,” which means I don’t have to conform to Tableau’s organization of MY stuff.

Deven Wisner Tableau Floating Filter.png

You’re floating and awesome now, so you can go back to your “carrot” and select the formatting of the list. Personally, I use a dropdown but this will really depend on what’s appropriate for your data. What makes the most sense? For years, usually my clients are comparing, so I choose “Multiple Values Dropdown.”

Deven Wisner Tableau Multiple Filter.png

Now we are in business. But wait. That thing looks ugly, right? So, let’s remove the title by going to the “carrot” and choosing “Edit Title.” Delete it! Now, add a floating text box with something that makes sense. Remember: more text doesn’t always make something better. I simply changed this one to “Order Date: …”

Deven Wisner Tableau Filter Title.png

Deven Wisner Tableau Textbox.png

Of course, you want to avoid Tableau defaults. Customize your dashboards to your client’s needs AND their company colors. Canned visualizations are rarely the right fit for anyone, and I find that they’re too cluttered and clunky. More on that soon…!Deven Wisner Tableau Order Data Success.png

Want to learn Tableau? Start doing #MakeoverMonday.

About two years ago I was introduced to Tableau. I fell in love. The intuitive visualizations, live data connections, and easy-to-use interface. OKAY, maybe the last part is a bit of a stretch. Easy and Tableau in the same sentence? Sure, maybe if you’re using their Superstore dataset. Otherwise, look forward to some fun, yet challenging hours with Tableau. My plan is to tell you about #MakeoverMonday, and give you the opportunity to learn from my experiences (and hopefully inspire you to share your own).

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 8.23.31 PMAll that shouldn’t be a deterrent from using Tableau. There are more resources than most people would have time to exploit. I’ve tried several and found worthwhile tidbits in each. The most useful so far? Well, I have to be honest: #MakeoverMonday. Why you ask? Because #MakeoverMonday challenges you to create visualizations from data that wasn’t canned specifically for Tableau. You will find yourself searching for guides and input from other users. Instead of compiling endless notes on Tableau (that you may never use), you’re learning as you go…oh yes, my friend — applied learning!#MakeoverMonday HomepageSo what is #MakeoverMonday? The creators, Eva Murray and Andy Kriebel, call it a “weekly social data project.” Every Monday, a visualization and dataset will be available on their website. You can download the data for Excel or Tableau, so you can choose your favorite…or use both! After downloading, you have the chance to turn a preexisting dataviz into your own. Use your current skills, and stretch them with new tips and tricks. It can be as easy or difficult as you choose. Regardless, you’ll walk away with some swollen Tableau (or Excel) muscles. #MakeoverMonday Data SetsNow what? Learning is great. Sharing back what you learned, asking your colleagues questions, and engaging in reflective practice…now that’s the good stuff. Going forward, at least one of my monthly blogs will be dedicated sharing my dataviz makeovers. Even better, I will share the cool things I learn. Now go…build your dataviz muscles!

 

To 3D, or not to 3D, that is the question…

Visualizing data using a 3D chart, graph, or pie doesn’t make it unique or more eye catching. Actually, it has the potential to confuse people by distracting them from the story you’re trying to tell with your visualization. I’ve had to confront several 3D charts over the past couple weeks…my question is how does seeing the side of a bar help me compare it to the bar next to it? Typically the further down the chart list in Excel you go…the more convoluted things get. Kind of conflicting, I think — it would make more sense that the further you go, the more sexy and complex you get (well, the latter is probably true).

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 8.54.41 AM.png

Instead of falling victim to the temptations of Excel (or whatever software you use), think smarter. Easy for me to say, right? Okay, here’s how I recommend you begin to change that:

  1. Don’t always make decisions based on your gut. Remember how you ended up on that 3D pie chart? Yep, thought so. Instead, consider Gestalt Principles…does your visualization make sense based on these principles?
  2. Stepping away helps! Review several days after and determine what your initial interpretation of the chart is.
  3. Critical feedback. Have someone unfamiliar with the project interpret your chart. Even better, get preliminary feedback from your stakeholder. You’ll be surprised what you learn.

The reality is that sometimes the wrong visualization is chosen, but we can do simple things to reduce how often it happens. Similar to a a good report or presentation, good visualizations require stepping away, getting outside feedback, and using research based methods. 

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 8.57.13 AM.png

But why take my word for it?

3D charts: David Sprague (Dashboard Insight) gives some great reasoning behind avoiding “faux 3D charts,” which I think everyone should take a gander at.

Gestalt Principles: I think Steven Bradly (Smashing Magazine) has a nice writeup on design principles.

Find the right chart: I’ve got ideas (go me), and so do a bunch of other people. Trying Googling “What charts should I use for…,” and I bet you will find some ideas.

A new week means tips for less-painful presentations.

Presentations. In addition to delivering findings via charts, graphs, and pictures, the presentation itself is a visualization. Data visualization = taking a lot of info (data) and turning it into something palatable. It isn’t enough to have results or recommendations that people should want to listen to. That alone isn’t going to make your audience pay attention — maybe just keep them awake.

Admit it: you’ve been subjected to a presentation where the PowerPoint (or whatever visual aide used) depreciated the value of what you were supposed to be learning about. Instead of focusing on the person talking, all you could think about was the giant chunk of text, which was nearly illegible from your uncomfortable, squeaky seat (you knew it was squeaky because you had to keep moving around to stay awake).

Although I’m sure we have all delivered one of those presentations, that doesn’t lend much comfort. So instead of letting you accept the status quo, I’m going to share some of the tips that have changed my presentations for the better!

First, let’s look at what I was guilty of doing in my presentations…and still see a lot of.

Presentation Blog.jpg

My tips + sound dataviz + a knowledgable, energetic, and fun presenter = a presentation people might listen to!

  1. Instead of using stupid headers…use that space to introduce your topic. Similar to useless titles on charts and graphs, we have a tendency to state obvious crap (or assume something is obvious). I like throwing in some rhetorical questions for emphasis.
  2. Defaults. Stop using them. Similar to my post on creating better charts, staying away from the crappy canned themes, fonts, and colors in PowerPoint (or whatever software you use) is best.
  3. Use pictures…but only if they mean something. All too often a picture is forced. Connect your content to a meaningful image to capitalize on the picture superiority effect.
  4. Use your PowerPoint as a PROMPT — not a script.
    1. More slides > a book per slide.
  5. Stop using bullet points because PowerPoint tells you to. First, ask yourself if bullet points make sense. If not, you’re wasting space.
  6. Black on white text = easiest to read. I know, I know…PowerPoint has been misleading you for years. But now you know better.

If you try out these tips, you might end up with less slides and more conversation pieces — like the one below. Presentation Blog_2.jpg

What tips do you have for presenters? Feel free to share them!

Is your qualitative dataviz taking a backseat? A few extra minutes = rich data noticed!

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Created by Chris Lysy
STOP depreciating your qualitative data by putting it into an appendix, or having six pages worth of themes, definitions, and examples. That’s rich information that you need to bring your stakeholders’ attention to! Like any data visualization, you want to draw readers in and make pile of data more digestible. Qualitative data might be dense but it’s no different.

So what is something easy I’ve started doing? Adding icons. Icons are a super easy way to tell your readers that the qualitative data confirmed something…or it didn’t. Or maybe it did — but only a little bit! Either in Excel (depending on how you build your qualitative tables) or Word, start inserting icons/images/GIFs (okay, maybe that’s a stretch) to indicate if a program outcome was achieved according to qualitative feedback. See my loaded and very fake example below.

First, I choose some icons (Excel or Word: Insert > Symbol or Image). Just like the charts you use to visualize quant, the icons should make sense. A giraffe or poo emoji might not be what you’re looking for (or, if it is, what an awesome evaluation).

After you’ve chosen icons, create a legend…because assumptions are dangerous.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 8.27.14 PM.png

Now, incorporate the icons into your qualitative table. In ones I’ve done, I add it on the left most side — the FIRST place my stakeholders are looking. They can quickly see that the hypothesis was accepted…or not. This makes it easy for them to dive into what they need to read first. For example, your stakeholder might be most concerned that their program did not achieve the desired outcome (and if your survey questions answer your evaluation questions, this will be no problem to connect, right?!).

Here’s a super simple example…that took me all of a few seconds. Something sensical that compliments the dense text will help get qualitative data noticed.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 8.27.00 PM.png
This doesn’t replace all the other important stuff (e.g., definition, frequency, etc.), but your stakeholders can get a snapshot of the results! 
  1. This is one very simple idea, and I bet you’ve seen some of the awesome resources put forth by Ann K. Emery, and Stephanie Evergreen on visualizing qualitative data. They are great ideas! But even with these awesome ideas, most of the reports I’ve seen in the past few months are still full of indigestible qual…NOT a great compliment to the awesome charts and graphs you’re probably making, right? So, my challenge to you is to start using the great resources available to you — and come up with your own!