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Data visualization, courtesy of the smaxy approach

Data visualization, courtesy of the smaxy approach Marie Forsberg-Mare
If your market research data isn’t getting the attention it deserves, you might consider applying a healthy dose of 'smaxy.'

A young friend of mine used the word 'smaxy' the other day, meaning smart and sexy.

This expression can certainly apply to many areas in life. Of course, my marketing mind immediately wandered off to… market research and data visualization.

What does market research and data visualization mean to YOU?

For me it indicates the gathering of a large amount of market research data, with the purpose to increase knowledge and understanding. It includes presenting the information in ways that also make sense to non-statisticians. And it culminates in unfolding a piece of truth that otherwise might remain unknown.

When those truths and insights are eventually shared, if the presentation is not tailored to the intended receiver, the message might not get through. No matter how valid or interesting the data is.

Nothing smaxy about that!

Let’s look at how information is served up

Do you read the news online? If you go through it the way I do, you first want to get an overview of what has happened since the previous day... get a visual of the big picture.

Then you scroll down, while reading headlines and the short introductions underneath. When your brain registers something interesting, you click to read the whole article to learn more. If the article is captivating, you might continue to look for more information such as related articles, references, research reports, etc.

The way we consume data is no different.

Drill into the data, down to the layer you need and want

Imagine if the headline or presentation of the top layer of information is not designed to catch your attention? Or if the front page displays all the articles in full, along with related articles, references and research reports? What if there are no headlines to draw your eyes to them? What if the visuals are more-of-the-same, and totally uninspiring?

You and I would be utterly overwhelmed with all the information, and wouldn’t see the wood for the trees. Nor would we notice the articles of importance and of interest to us. In fact, we may decide not to bother reading it at all.

If your market research data’s tired of being ignored, it’s probably nodding its head accusingly right now. Smaxy is shaking hers disdainfully…

But drilling down into data isn’t reserved for market researchers alone

Anyone who has ever used a search engine, will know what I mean when I talk about drilling through layers for more information. Have you considered what would happen if information on the Internet wasn’t layered, tagged or sorted? What if it was just presented as data in one long, never-ending list that we have to scroll through in an effort to find what we are looking for?

We wouldn’t put up with it, and our clients shouldn’t have to.

The smart mapping of information is crucial. Clever layout attracts your target audience and, even more importantly, the first layer of information should be presented in such a way that they immediately find what is of interest to them.

Bringing smaxy back…

Tomorrow I’ll thank my young friend for inspiring us to use a new word; a snappy word that captures the essence of what’s important when we strive to refine our data visualization. Smaxy… I taste the word again. It feels good. It says it all.

Marie Forsberg-Mare, vice president of Information Tools Scandinavia, often works remotely from Colorado, where she moved in 1999. Prior to joining the Swedish office she worked internationally as director of sales and marketing, with focus on...

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