There is much more knowledge to be gained in understand how something is changing, rather than just knowing where it is.
For example, above is an infographic about the Internet, dated 6/15/11, from Design You Trust. It’s an appealing design, and would have been sort of interesting five months ago, when it was meant to illustrate how big the Internet is, and how fast it is changing at one point in time.
But it would have been really interesting if it showed how these stats were changing over time.
Any data like that displayed here — a snapshot of one moment — is instantly obsolete. Especially for something that changes as fast as the Internet. The real opportunity here would be to express these quantities as curves with respect to time.
In other words, it’s interesting to know that, as the infographic says, 13,000 iPhone apps were being downloaded per minute. But what would be really interesting would be to show how that stat is changing day-by-day (or maybe week-by-week or month-by-month) and present it in a way that communicates the change of the stat over time. See the chart to the right, which I found at Pocket Protector Games.
Often, and especially in public relations or social media measurement, what you really want to know is if a stat is going up or down, and how fast. That can be where the more valuable knowledge lies. --WTP
--Bill Paarlberg is editor of The Measurement Standard blog and newsletter, and of Katie Paine's new book Measure What Matters. The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement.