Get People to Quality Displays as Soon as Possible
It is important to present the comparative quality information as soon as possible.
Report sponsors have to fight the urge to provide as much explanatory information as possible in the front of a report. If people are looking at your report, it is because they are interested in the information itself. They are unlikely to realize that they need additional knowledge to make the best use of the information. They will also be impatient if you slow them down, sometimes so impatient they will just stop looking.
One downside of this approach is that some people will feel uncertain what to look for when they get to the data. You can minimize this problem by following the advice about data displays provided in Translate Data Into Information. But it is still possible that people will eventually realize that they need to back up and get more information to understand and use the report.
Consequently, it is also important for you to help people get to that explanatory information quickly and easily. This is easier to do in a Web-based report where you can provide navigational links to this kind of information. A print report can use physical tabs to achieve this goal, but this is an expensive option; in most cases, you have to depend on a well-designed Table of Contents.