Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

The Jacksonville Community Council (JCCI) understands indicators and community change, with more than 25 years of producing the annual Quality of Life Progress Report for Jacksonville and the Northeast Florida region, and two decades of helping other communities develop their own sustainable indicators projects. JCCI consultants give you the information you need to measure progress, identify priorities for action, and assess results.

I'd like to talk with you personally about how we can help. E-mail me at
ben@jcci.org, call (904) 396-3052, or visit CommunityWorks for more information. From San Antonio to Siberia, we're ready and willing to assist.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Choosing the Right Graph

Let's say you have a big ol' pile of data sitting there on your desk, and you need to turn that data into some sort of easily-shared information that will concisely and powerfully convey your message and transform the numbers into meaning. You know what I'm talking about -- you've been there a number of times.

So you prowl through the options in Excel -- wow, there's a bunch of choices here, and Excel 2007 just made it worse more complicated.

So what do you do?

You might check out a couple of nifty resources on the web for selecting which kind of information/ message/ data set calls for what kind of graph. Check out the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods as a starting point. Go ahead, mouseover the options. The color codes help you determine which of the options fit the data you have and the message you're trying to convey.

Still overwhelmed and need something simpler? Andrew Abela's got a flow chart for charts that should help. (You probably want to print this one out and hang on to it -- put it up above your desk like I have if you've got lots of different data display decisions you need to make.)

(Even more resources after the break!)

There's a lot more information out there for you to use. Try www.ChartChooser.com for another approach -- this one even brings the template you choose back into Excel for you!

What other resources do you use to select the kind of graph you want for the information you need to display?

(Hat tips go to Extreme Presentation and Flowing Data.)

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