Metric Translation

The best policy when communicating using data is to let the data tell the story for you (see Data Storytelling). But what do you do when the story the data is telling is not obvious? How can you translate from the language of mathematics into a language your team can understand?

Take, for example the following data:

metric translation

There have clearly been some jumps and increases recently, but what else is it hiding? Those cyclical patterns on the right, did they exist earlier in the data? It looks flat, but perhaps that is just because the numbers are too small to see.

Translating metrics is an art form, as there is no right answer when it comes to how to communicate them. Given any single metric (or group of metrics), there are dozens of ways you can translate it to make it easier to understand. Some are simple, like ratios, that translate page views and purchases into conversion rates, for example, while others are more complicated.

This week, we’ll review some common ways to translate your metrics in ways that might make the insights that come from them easier to communicate. Specifically we will cover:

Tomorrow we’ll get started with how to use translations to make sense of rapidly changing data using logarithmic scales.

Quote of the Day: “Translation is at best an echo.” – George Borrow, Lavengro