Humboldt State University Strategic Plan

By Michael Le, Research Analyst
Office of Institutional Research and Planning
Humboldt State University

In spring 2015, under the leadership of a new president, Humboldt State University created a new strategic plan. The plan set graduation targets for 2020, which were undertaken in the context of the targets established by the California State University (CSU) system for 2025. The strategic plan was designed to span five years.

The visualization was created to do three things: 1) inform the campus, in no uncertain terms, that initiatives to increase six-year graduation rates needed to begin right away, because the cohort being measured had started school in fall 2014; 2) orient new staff and faculty to our retention and graduation rate goals; and 3) communicate Humboldt State’s official response to the CSU Chancellor’s Office regarding our participation in the graduation rate initiative.


Sample image from strategic plan


The visualization uses a large readable font from the Microsoft ClearType font collection. Microsoft ClearType is a font display technology that dramatically improves resolution and screen readability. All color schemes are Red-Green colorblind friendly, and greyscale printable (high, medium, and low hue saturation).

Visual Analytic Features:

  • Non-critical information has lower hue saturation to send it to the “background.” This allows elements with higher hue saturation to come to the “foreground” and be visually processed first.
  • The charts are encoded with preattentive attributes (hue, shape, orientation, etc.) to decrease time to insight. These attributes allow for processing of data visually to amplify the reader’s cognitive ability to process information in the chart (often called preattentive processing).
  • To reduce distortion due to small differences, most charts start at zero and span a maximum range of points. Some white space has been reclaimed for headers and legends. This should strike a good balance between white space and chart accuracy.
  • Text is used sparingly and embedded hyperlinks connect readers to more detailed information.

 View Larger, Full Version (PDF opens in new tab). 




To add a comment, Sign In
Total Comments: 2
Heather posted on 11/13/2015 12:52 AM
This is a beautifully designed visualization, and I learned a lot about how to improve my own. Would be interested to know what product this was created in, or was it exported for design using graphic design software? Thanks!
Mike posted on 11/13/2015 12:08 PM
Heather, Thank you! You're not the first to ask and many have thought it was Photoshop or InDesign, but this visualization was created entirely in Tableau. While Tableau is not meant to create print media, I think it did a fairly good job. The beauty of this visualization is that with 2 clicks I can extract the data from the database and can update it very quickly.