Category Archives: Resources

Global Health Mini U Resource Round Up #2

For those who have been eagerly awaiting resources that we used in our session, here they are, along with a few bonuses!

From our activities:

To learn about how storyboarding can help you visualize data as a team, check out the this summary from Amanda Makulec (JSI). Participants in the session talked about how the process helped to underscore the importance of defining your audience up front in order to drive what you pick as your key messages, and that the exercise was a great way to collaborate with a team to create a common vision for a visualization product.

For more on simple data viz best practices, check out this Building Your Viz Checklist from Erica Nybro (DHS Program) that can help you evaluate your visualization. It’s amazing how much you can improve a graph or chart with a few simple tweaks like decluttering by deleting excess lines and tick marks or using color strategically.

Bonus! And in case you’re interested in more resources, check out our Love Your Data and Free Viz Tools handouts from earlier presentations. For a more detailed deep dive on viz, check out the Data+Design eBook.

Global Health Mini U: Resources Round Up #1

Many thanks to the attendees at today’s Mini U session, “A Data Viz Makover: Approaches for Improving Data Visualization.” We’ve got two great round ups of data viz resources for  you, featuring work by colleagues and thought leaders who we admire and think you’ll love, and a forthcoming post with our resources and handouts from the session. Let’s use great visualizations to make sure data doesn’t get wasted!


From some of our favorite thought leaders:

  • Information is Beautiful – Great examples and ideas
  • Storytelling with Data | Cole Naussbaumer – Cole features both examples and practical templates that you can use when designing visualizations in Excel. Also consider checking out her in-person training events, which have gotten rave reviews!
  • Intentional Visualization | Stephanie Evergreen – One of the US thought leaders in data visualization, Evergreen was one of the founders of the American Evaluation Association Data Visualization & Reporting Technical Interest Group and continues to be a leading voice in the data viz space.
  • Ann Emery’s Excel Tutorials – Some of the best simple videos for improving your visualizations in Excel. Ann’s other resources on her site are also excellent, and she’s available for external presentations and workshops.
  • Policy Viz | Jon Schwabish – Full of helpful hints, Excel hacks, and data viz makeovers. Jon is also an excellent trainer on presentation design and visualizations; you can find more details on his website.
  • The Functional Art | Alberto Cairo – A leading professor on information design who has authored text books and hosted MOOCs on infographic design.


Great summary resources in data viz tools and approaches for design include:

  • Data Visualization Resource Guide – A round up of available tools for designing visualizations, as well as some great framing on why visualizing information is essential for promoting information use.
  • Data+Design eBook – One of the most comprehensive (free) guides to visualization design, coauthored by nearly 100 contributors from across the domain. Includes considerations for visualization before even undertaking your data collection processes and great step-by-step instructions on data cleaning, analysis for visualization, chart design, and more.

And for some great data viz humor and tips, check out Fresh Spectrum | Chris Lysy (to whom all credit for the awesome cartoon illustrations of this post should go).


Fresh eyes & why teaching data viz matters

After a month of other commitments and chaos, we’re back on the Data Viz Hub! I just finished a week at the Health Systems Research Symposium in Cape Town, where the question of how to translate research into action was front and center. Well designed data visualization, focused on creating added value for specific kinds of data users, is a powerful tool for facilitating that translation from data to informed decision making. By building capacity for visualizing information (whether its on computer or a quadrille pad), we put the power of data in the hands of the people who can use it best.

Over the course of the Symposium, I was pointed to some great resources and blogs by colleagues and Twitter, and wanted to share a few favorites here:

  • “What a Sinking Ship Can Tell Us about Data Visualization” on Journalism+Design points out how the fresh eyes of students can highlight how visualizations that may be technically unsound can share useful information, amongst other things.
  • Jeff Knezovich at Future Health Systems presented on Visualizing Health Systems Data at the conference, and many of the materials from his presentation can be accessed online for those who didn’t make the trip to Cape Town. Great tools for both scraping data and visualizing it.
  • The new Data Viz Resource Guide, just posted last week, rounds up and curates many of the online tools available for everything from infographic design to color selection. Check it out in the Slideshare below or download it for your own use & please let me know if you have any feedback!

For advanced data analysts: new STATA code for interactive 2D charts

Usually we focus on no-code, simple tools that anyone with a computer and some data savvy can use, but we’re making an exception for this STATA add on that we’ve heard quant buzz about from analysts we know.

For anyone out there who routinely uses STATA to generate charts and graphs, you’ve got a new option for automatically generating interactive (tool-tip enabled) 2D graphs from your data using Highcharts (free for non-commercial use), which a Javascript enabled chart generator. The output is an HTML file that can be dragged into any browser.  Not necessarily the most beautiful visualization you’ve ever seen, but the simple means of creating interactive charts is exciting!

Check out the full run down on GitHub.

Kaiser Family Foundation launches new interactive budget data explorer

Today the Kaiser Family Foundation launched a new US Global Health Budget Tracker platform that lets you explore and drill down through the data on USG budget allocations for global health programs, including trend data from across the appropriations process. You can disaggregate the data by fiscal year, agency, program area, and initiative. In addition, they’ve provided some “featured budget data” on high interest areas on the landing page.

KFF Interactive Funding Viz


Interactivity promotes exploration, and well-designed interactivity helps you engage users in a memorable experience. One of the greatest benefits of interactive features is that they create a more engaging, interesting, thought-provoking experience for your user. They also let you share your big-picture, high level themes and takeaways first, and then allow the user to explore the information you’re sharing and learn more about the details. 

Playing with the new platform from KFF, they’ve built a tool that seems comprehensive, visually interesting yet simple, and easy to customize so that you can drill down to the information you’re interested in.

What do you think of the new platform? 


The Noun Project makes finding icons easy

This Friday has been a blitz of sharing data visualization resources with colleagues, from Canva to Piktochart to Tiki-Toki.  In one of the meetings, a colleague shared a resource new to me: The Noun Project.

For anyone who has been desperately searching for an easy place to find simple, often free icons, the Noun Project will be your new best friend. Simply search for the topic of interest, and you’ll likely find a smattering of options.


Continue reading The Noun Project makes finding icons easy

Data+Design: the data viz guide you always wished you had

I’m (personally) excited to announce that the new eBook Data+Design officially launched yesterday! As one of the man writers for the project, I’m thrilled to see the beautiful, practical, engaging final product go live and hopefully be a great resource to global health and development professionals around the world.


“A simple introduction to preparing and visualizing information,” this is the resource that I’ve always wanted but never had at my fingertips to share when colleagues ask for a good overview on data viz. The book walks through the full process of developing great visualizations that transform numbers into meaningful information, from collecting your data to thinking about how to best communicate your data story to building your chart and making it sing. As you read it, you’ll find stories, examples, and helpful how to’s and how-not-to’s that anyone can learn from.

The book hits on data cleaning, infographics, chart design, and is beautifully designed thanks to the volunteer contributions from graphic and web designers who helped make the PDF and web-based versions look stunning. The masterminds behind the whole project were Trina Chiasson (Infoactive) and Dyanna Gregory, and the final product is the work of more than 50 different collaborators who offered time and support writing, editing, managing timelines, and doing the design for the book itself.

As an evolving resource, the team is actively seeking feedback and ideas for new chapters, so take a look at the resource and share your comments.