Category Archives: Guest Contribution

Data Visualization Approaches for Program Evaluation (and Beyond)

Wordle Word Cloud
Word cloud, created with Wordle from the text of a draft of this post. “Evaluation”, “data”, “participatory”, and “analysis” are some topics that become clear through Wordle’s word frequency processing.

Hub member Simone Parrish, Global Repository Director at the Knowledge for Health (K4Health Project) and fellow data viz aficionado, shares this great cross-post of practical tools and resources for data visualization. This is a cliff-notes version of Simone’s original blog post on the K4Health blog. Thanks Simone!

Looking for simple tools and resources as you work on visualizations?

There are a number of excellent, free, practical tools and resources for data visualization from the evaluation consultants at Innovation Network (particularly Johanna Morariu and Ann K. Emery, whose Excel kung fu was previously referenced on the DataViz Hub here: Hacking Beautiful Graphs in Excel). Check out:

Bonus Tip: Do you have a batch of interview transcripts or open-ended survey responses? Want to quickly get a sense of topics based on word frequency? Use Wordle (

This summary was also cross-posted to the Springboard for Health Communication.

Infographic content first, design next

Today’s post comes from Tiana Tucker from Georgetown University, talking about their deep dive into men’s health to get the content right before starting to do the visual design on an infographic on the topic.

When considering an infographic it is usually a good idea to explore who, what, when, where, why and how questions regarding the selected topic. Who is the target audience, what do they care about, where are they interacting online, why might this audience care about the infographic and how people will find or share the information. This is usually a good tactic to help you discover whether the audience you’re hoping to reach is a good fit with the content you’re producing. It may also help you think through more specific details, so you can dig deep.

The more details and research you can dig up before heading to the design phase the better as it will lend itself to keeping the project on budget and on time. Before deciding to produce our infographic, Spotlight on Men’s Health, Georgetown University’s online nursing program team explored every aspect of the who, what, when, where, why and how questions.


Question for the community: Career Advice

Today our question comes from Sebastian Lim, a student close to graduating looking for advice on career paths that involve a blending of visualization and public health:

Q: What sort of career paths are there that involve data visualization and public health? What sort of educational background is necessary for it? How have your experiences been in these careers?  I am close to graduating (December!) and I would like to explore data visualization and policy analysis as a career.
A: Data visualization is such a cross cutting space, that you can find ways to use visualization no matter what role you end up playing throughout your career.  There will always been a need for skilled professionals who can help data communicate well.  Teams make great visualizations happen; it’s seldom a siloed task. At a high level, consider opportunities in any of these domains:
  • Monitoring and evaluation: If you like to get in the weeds of data, look for opportunities as an analyst or M&E staff member at a public health organization. Often times, the M&E staff work with program staff to find the story in the data and develop visual concepts that can be used to help make the data accessible and used by various audiences, like policymakers.
  • Communications: If you like distilling the outputs from the data analysis into beautiful communications products for different audience, consider a role with communications responsibilities. Often other complementary skills are needed (such as strategic communications planning, graphic design, or public relations), so consider how viz would fit into one of these roles.
  • Graphic design or an applied technology role: visualizations can be hand drawn (by a designer) or developed using various software programs (often by someone with tech skills, either adept at using viz software or  with coding skills). If you’re interested in being the one to look at sketches, hear a story, and make the viz happen, think about how to prepare for a role in this domain.

There are also some less traditional spaces emerging in public health, focused on improving the experience of how individuals receive, process, and use information. Look for words and phrases like “user experience,” “design,” and “data use” in job descriptions. You could also consider a role focused on strengthening health information systems, focusing on improving how data is displayed to promote use at various levels of the health system.

The possibilities really are endless: data visualizations, from infographics to dashboards, have become ubiquitous and ever-evolving tools to make data accessible and useful. If you have additional suggestions, stories about your own career path involving visualization, or other advice, please share in the comments!

Mapping High Impact Practices using Leaflet


Today’s contributor is Carla Briceno from Bixal, who shares the examples of building an interactive map work for the team at the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) program.

K4Health is working with USAID to support the promotion of high impact practices (HIPs). The primary goal of the map is to depict the location of projects around the world implementing HIPs in various categories to facilitate communication among program implementers and USAID missions in the field. The map also provides an easily digestible visual aid that family planning programs and technical experts around the world can use to advocate for the various high impact practices.

JHU engaged Bixal to develop a fully responsive, interactive, Drupal-based map feature to showcase HIPs related projects around the world. The mapping solution uses Leaflet, a lightweight JavaScript mapping technology and Drupal 7. The mapping solution offers a workflow so that family planning providers around the world can submit their information directly using intuitive forms for each type of HIP. Site administrators can then review each submission, approve and publish to the map and other areas of the website. Users can also export data on projects worldwide to an Excel file.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Communication Programs (JHU∙CCP) is the lead implementer of the USAID-funded Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project.