Chapter 5 Data Authors: Skilled Designers of Data Presentations

Data product authors (or data authors, as we’ll use for shorthand) aren’t just concerned with getting data on the page. That’s like saying writers are just collecting enough words to fill a book . . . or movie directors are shooting purely to capture a few hours’ worth of film. Rather, data authors, and the presentations they craft, must have a specific, targeted purpose. And the purpose must be directed at the audiences of the data products. Data can both help explain how things are, and how they could be, but data becomes truly powerful only when it informs, instructs, and leads to smart discussions, decisions, and actions.

Skilled data authors are an essential element in our data fluency framework (Figure 5-1). Your challenge as an author of data products is to build a bridge of understanding between your data and the intended audience. This bridge requires that your audience can interpret the data as presented, understand its relevance, and consider the implications and available actions.

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Figure 5-1: Data Product Authors within the Data Fluency Framework

A Rare Skillset

To bridge the gap between data and an audience, the data author has a complex job. The author must decide what data is most important to focus on to answer the questions at hand, and how to optimally harness and depict data to inform thinking ...

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