What helps proposals stand out from the rest? I would venture to say that accurate data, when presented graphically, is potentially the winning edge. Terms that have been bandied about in recent years are “data dashboards” and “infographics.”
Here is one definition of a data dashboard that Quaid Saifee, of Wit, Inc. has developed: ”Summarizes collections of relevant metrics on a single computer screen; provides Big Picture and all the details; has navigation with one Interface and is visually Interactive.”
MacMillan Dictionary defines infographic as “a visual representation of data or information. Short for ‘information graphic.” Even more detailed description of an infographic is provided by Communication Nation Blogspot:
WHAT IS AN INFOGRAPHIC?
1. It's a visual explanation that helps you more easily understand, find or do something.
2. It's visual, and when necessary, integrates words and pictures in a fluid, dynamic way.
3. It stands alone and is completely self-explanatory.
4. It reveals information that was formerly hidden or submerged.
5. It makes possible faster, more consistent understanding.
6. It's universally understandable.
Both terms are interchangeable and not at all opposites. Here is a specific example that will illustrate infographics from “10 Awesome Free Tools to Make Infographics” posted by Angela Alcorn:
“Some great tips for designing infographics:
- Keep it simple! Don’t try to do too much in one picture.
- Decide on a colour scheme.
- Research some great facts and statistics.
- Think of it as a visual essay: ensure your arguments hold and are relevant.
- Remember that it’s all about quickly conveying the meaning behind complex data.
- Draw conclusions.
- Reference your facts in the infographic.
- Include your URL so people can be sure who made it.”
Gabriel Fuchs, in his “Dashboard Best Practices,” published by LogiXML, discusses dashboards vs. spreadsheets, designing dashboards, and implementing dashboards along with common pitfalls.
I am saving the best for last. In November 2010, I attended the American Evaluations Association’s Annual Meeting in San Antonio, and participated in Veronica Smith and Tarek Azzam’s presentation, “Data Dashboard Design.”
They had developed a sophisticated PowerPoint Presentation that turned me on to the value and impact of utilizing data dashboards in successful proposals. Their presentation focused on the role of Data Dashboards in Evaluation, but I found the application very relevant for the “Needs” section of a proposal. Their PowerPoint Presentation can be downloaded from AEA’s Public Library.
Infographics and data dashboards are compelling instruments to tell your proposal story. Used effectively, they can enhance your proposals, and hopefully tip the balance in your favor for getting funded. Have fun making data discernable, clear and simple!<>