Adobe Spark

Why it's perfect for data nerds

June 2018

I saw some research by that used the World Cup to make an important point about the UK housing crisis.

It wasn't a huge story, but it was the kind of research that has a short, sharp takeaway: Housing affordability in the UK is a nightmare.

House prices as a multiple of annual wages

It's not about football, it's about affordability

These kind of takeaways happen a lot when you're delving deep into lots of numbers, but the real obstacle is rarely the takeaway; it's in getting people's attention.

So let's share a data science secret: Nobody really likes tables, or graphs or coloured maps. Psychologically these only validate somebody has done some hard research.

Humans prefer narrative, pictures... and videos.

Enter Adobe Spark

Spark is a fairly new product from Adobe and is designed for amateurs to make short videos. It's mostly aimed at social media marketers, but we find its simplicity is also perfect in a research setting.

The beauty of Spark is that it forces you to concentrate on the takeaway.

What really matters in your data story? Spark has no time for nuance, and this forces an analyst to step back from the detail and ask themselves what point their research really conveys.

Spark has very few design options.

Spark has only 3 slide layouts.

Spark looks really nice, and it's free.

I turned the Trussle research into a video in under an hour, and tweeted it for some social media glory. I also turned it loose on my mum, who got the point in 10 seconds and stopped moaning about kids not working hard enough to buy a house.

It's a great tool, mostly because it forces us to think very hard about presenting analysis.

Data is great, when it has a takeaway.