How to be a data analyst

In which I try to lift he fog of war on numbers and reveal it all to be a feint.

As a data analyst I have often believed that it is more important to look right rather than be right. Accuracy will always lose to style; it seems to be the way of the world. I have been told by previous managers that “these numbers don’t feel right” and “could I go and check them”. Later after changing nothing but the colour scheme and some borders the figures all of a sudden feel better.

Double Decker buses are also a standard unit
Double Decker buses are also a standard unit

It’s like evidence depends purely on the appearance of the information, this is why we live in a world where infographics seem to be the fad du jour. Losing a percentage of the rainforest each day can only be measured in Wales (a standard unit of measurement, much like Double Decker buses for length or Eiffel towers for height) rather than hectares.

I once ‘wowed’ a manager by placing a button on a spreadsheet that allowed him to print it off. The fact I had placed it directly below the print button in the toolbar (and it simply was a macro that replayed a press of that button) was beside the point. It was a button that printed.

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