Pearl Kyei, University of Ghana, will speak about showing regional trends with tables

We’re excited to announce that Pearl Kyei from the University of Ghana will speak at our Unwrapped conference about How Datawrapper helped me present disaggregated data at the subnational level.”

Pearl is a lecturer at the University of Ghana Regional Institute for Population Studies and has created over 1,000 visualizations in Datawrapper since discovering the tool in 2021, including in five census thematic briefs. Her charts have inspired colleagues to “wrap” their own data whenever possible.

Time to ask her some questions:

Pearl, what will you talk about?

Ghana has 16 administrative regions and 261 administrative districts. Following Ghana’s first census since the inception of the Sustainable Development Goals, there was considerable demand for disaggregated data at the subnational level for policy and planning. The challenge was finding simple ways to present patterns and trends in one visualization without having 16 different charts for each region or one overly messy chart.

Using Datawrapper tables, I can present regional trends in one streamlined graphic. This allows regional-level decision-makers to simultaneously see their own statistics and where they rank in comparison with other regions. I also used Datawrapper to generate interactive district league tables for district-level decision-makers.

Why/how did you start using Datawrapper?

I started using Datawrapper when I got involved in disseminating census data for the first time. Censuses produce a lot of important data that needs to be synthesized and communicated to various audiences. I had no coding skills but knew I needed to be able to produce more sophisticated data visualizations than I had before, so I did some research online. I chose Datawrapper because it created beautiful charts, was user-friendly, had a plethora of charts and customization options, had a free version, and — very importantly — kept visualizations private until published.

How do you use Datawrapper?

I am a faculty member at the university, so data visualization is not really part of our routine tasks. For the first couple of years, I primarily used Datawrapper for census reports and presentations. This academic year, I’ve begun using Datawrapper for teaching: I present visualizations to the PhD students in my policy class and ask them to tell the story and its implications. I’m also using it more now for research papers where I present some of my findings with charts instead of only tables as I did before.

Pearl: "This visualization was my first foray into using Datawrapper for research. Before, I had line graphs for 34 different countries, which made it difficult to compare levels and changes over time. This dot plot nicely captures the cross-country variation in both the size of the age difference between spouses and the rate of change over time."

What's your guiding principle when working on data visualizations?

To keep it as simple as possible. That ensures that the one key message I have developed and want to communicate is very clear. This is particularly important if visualizations are to be made meaningful to all types of audiences regardless of their background.

What's your favorite Datawrapper feature?

I love the kind of Datawrapper tooltips where you can add a lot of helpful information, e.g., from additional columns. I use them a lot in choropleth maps. Hopefully, they'll be made available for all visualization types eventually.  

Pearl: "This poverty map complemented a census table by visualizing the spatial clustering of poor districts, which was not easily evident from the table. The tooltips additionally provided information on the districts' poverty ranking, region, and total number of multidimensionally poor persons."

What advice would you give to other Datawrapper users?

Be prepared. Datawrapper requires an internet connection, which I sometimes don't have when I’m out in the field — if you're in the same situation, you'll need to plan accordingly. I would also encourage other users to take advantage of all the available resources. I’ve personally learned a lot from the blog, River, and webinars.

We're looking forward to Pearl's talk at Unwrapped! Until then, you can find more about her on LinkedIn or the IGC website. To sign up for Unwrapped and hear Pearl and other great speakers, visit our conference website.