Excel for Data Viz

Experience design for a small social enterprise

This project demonstrates my deep knowledge of data analysis, synthesis, and visualization best practices; my skills in using usage data to iterate and improve experiences; and my success in driving both positive experience and business outcomes.

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Working with a small social enterprise, I designed this online course to teach international development and monitoring and evaluation professionals from all backgrounds how to create both static and dynamic data visualizations in Excel.

 
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A frame from one of the course's screencasts, focusing on data visualization best practices within an interactive Excel dashboard.

 

To generate bite-sized lessons, I created standalone screencasts on data cleaning, formulas, and interactive visualizations that covered a single topic within a few minutes. To encourage interactivity, I built in animated presentations and case studies. I also created two custom scenarios in which the learner chooses the appropriate Excel function or visualization technique for a given set of criteria. By actively adjusting elements of the chart and learning from mistakes made, the learner demonstrates understanding of the visualization techniques.

 
Step one: Click on parts of the graph to improve
Step one: Click on parts of the graph to improve

Step two: Data labels > legends
Step two: Data labels > legends

Step four: Minimize grid lines
Step four: Minimize grid lines

Step one: Click on parts of the graph to improve
Step one: Click on parts of the graph to improve

In this interaction, the learner clicks on the parts of a hypothetical graph that should be improved.

 

After building the course, I worked with a team of engineers to insert custom javascript triggers to record student activity through our custom Learning Records Store. As this was the first course to use the system, this process involved strategizing over what we should track through the system and how. Completion, navigation, and interaction eventually won out as being the most important parts of the experience to capture, as these factors equate the levels I could manipulate to improve outcomes both from a business and learner perspective.

Within one month of launching the course, over two hundred people enrolled in the course. One of the most significant insights was that only 25% of learners got past the first module. However, once past the first module, 65% completed the second module. The second module, while much shorter, was also much more interactive. Most people clicked on interactive elements if they were present, even if they were not required to progress to the next slide. After digging deeper into the data to see exactly which slides learners failed to complete in the first module, I designed a series of interactive exercises to preempt such slides in order to increase overall completion of module one.

 
Dragging and dropping formula definitions

Dragging and dropping formula definitions

Providing feedback

Providing feedback

Progressing through the formula

Progressing through the formula

Indicating success

Indicating success

Based on user data and analytics, I added this interaction to help learners practice the INDEX MATCH formula.

 

As of December 2016, over 600 people have enrolled in the course. Five years later, this course is still the featured course for the social enterprise I designed it for. This kind of success in generating both experience and business value continues to be an outcome I strive for in all of my work to this day.