Training > Envisioning Evidence for Decision Making

“Clutter is a failure of design,
not an attribute of information.”

Edward Tufte


© simplexCT 2014-2015

Effective visualization techniques for analytical and quantitative thinking

Business is about communication. Every day, scores of chunks of data that measure business performance are almost always communicated visually, yet ineffectively.

Howard Wainer, in his foreword to Jacques Bertin’s Semiology of Graphics—one of the most important work written on information design—put it best when he wrote:

“All the pieces are here – huge amounts of information, a great need to clearly and accurately portray them, and the physical means for doing so. What is lacking is a deep understanding of how best to do it.”



Envisioning Evidence for Decision Making is based heavily on the teachings of the masters in the field of the visual display of information, none other than Edward Tufte, Nancy Duarte, Stephen Few and Robin Williams. It will show you how to translate your ideas into visual forms that inform, influence and impress your audience. Throughout the course we’ll illustrate good graphic practices and explain why the specific structures of those graphic forms and formats work.

Upon returning to work, you’ll be able to:

  • Design graphics for both analytical and presentational purposes.

  • Use effectively the four principles of design that underlie every graphic display (Alignment, proximity, repetition and contrast).

  • Apply evidence to find out how to use visual elements to support content (Background, text, color and image).

Envisioning Evidence for Decision Making is important for anyone responsible for turning confusing data into intelligence or manages those who do.

The program is intended for professionals—in all functions such as sales, marketing, operations, strategy, IT, HR or finance just to name a few— who want to present their ideas clearly and persuasively, while creating visually pleasing reports, slides or notes.


Day 1 - Fundamental principles of design



Upon satisfactory attendance of the course, simplexCT will provide feedback on your performance and award you a certificate of successful completion of the training.


Just bring yourself, an open mind, a sense of humor, and an interest in learning.

Day 2 - Applied techniques for displaying data

- Alignment
- Proximity
- Repetition
- Contrast

The document design ecosystem

Fundamental principles of information design

Fundamental principles of analytical design

• Arangement

• 1 + 1 = 3 or more
• The negative white space
• Disinformation design
• The smallest effective difference
• Layering and separation
• The visual memory
• Parallelism

• Comparisons
• Multivariate analysis
• Causality
• Integration of evidence
• Documentation
• Content

Fundamental principles of chart design

• Chartjunk
• The Data-Ink-Ratio
• The Lie-Factor


Data charts

Concept charts

• Find out your message
• Identify the comparison


• Visual elements

• Flow
• Structure
• Interaction
• Interrelations
• Metaphor
• Links and causal arrows

• When to use tables
• Ordering rows and columns
• Spacing and layout

• Numbers to be compared in columns
• Rounding to two effective digits

Bullet points

• Parallelism
• Structure and layout


- Background
- Color
- Text
- Image

• Movement

- Timing
- Pace
- Direction
- Eye flow

- Component/Part-to-whole
- Item/Ranking
- Time series
- Frequency distribution
- Correlation

• Select the chart form

- Pie chart
- Bar chart
- Column chart
- Line chart
- Dot chart

• Special charts

- 3D charts
- Zero-based scale
- Aspect ratio
- Groups in frequency distribution
- Aggregation of data over time

- Dual axis charts
- Inflation and derived measures

Most of us in the business world, unfortunately, lack the training in effective visual expression and this is where the Envisioning Evidence for Decision Making course comes in. It’s a journey of discovery that will develop your skills to become a visual communicator and make better decisions.

A word of caution, however: this course isn’t about PowerPoint or Excel. You’ll not learn about drop-down menus or shortcut keys, instead it’s about timeless principles to show evidence irrespective of its mode of production.

  • Employ graphic design principles to support cognitive processing of content (the negative white space, the smallest effective difference, layering and separation).

  • Distinguish among decorative, representational and explanatory visuals (Chartjunk, the lie factor and the data-ink ratio).

  • Select the right medium of display and design its individual visual components to communicate information clearly.

  • Create ideas, translate them into charts, tables and graphics and display them well.

  • Recognize the five kinds of comparisons that underline the five basic data chart forms used in business.

  • Apply fundamental strategies of analytical design to business reports and slides.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in aerospace, healthcare, oil and gas, construction, retail and so on, the course is appropriate for executives from organizations of any size or industry.

- Tornado and spider plots
- Stacked divergent bar graphs
- Cycle plots

- The bullet graph
- Small multiples
- The slope graph
- Heat maps