Data visualization is an interdisciplinary field that deals with the graphic representation of data. It is a particularly efficient way of communicating when the data is numerous as for example a Time Series
Data visualization is the graphical representation of information and data. By using visual elements like charts , graphs and maps, data visualization tools provide an accessible way to see and understand trends, outliers, and patterns in data.
In the world of Big Data, data visualization tools and technologies are essential to analyze massive amounts of information and make data-driven decisions.
The different types of visualizations
When you think of data visualization, your first thought probably immediately goes to simple bar graphs or pie charts. While these may be an integral part of visualizing data and a common baseline for many data graphics, the right visualization must be paired with the right set of information. There’s a whole selection of visualization methods to present data in effective and interesting ways.
Common general types of data visualization:
More specific examples of methods to visualize data:
- Area Chart
- Bar Chart
- Box-and-whisker Plots
- Bubble Cloud
- Bullet Graph
- Circle View
- Dot Distribution Map
- Gantt Chart
- Heat Map
- Highlight Table
- Polar Area
- Radial Tree
- Scatter Plot (2D or 3D)
- Text Tables
- Wedge Stack Graph
- Word Cloud
- And any mix-and-match combination in a dashboard!
METHODS AND TECHNIQUES OF DATA VISUALIZATION
Therefore, the visualization of data is critical to the sustained success of your business and to help you yield the most possible value from this tried and tested means of analyzing and presenting vital information. Here are 10 essential data visualization techniques you should know.
1. Know Your Audience
This is one of the most overlooked yet vital concepts around.
In the grand scheme of things, the World Wide Web and Information Technology as a concept are in its infancy – and data visualization is an even younger branch of digital evolution.
That said, some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs and executives find it difficult to digest more than a pie chart, bar chart, or a neatly presented visual, nor do they have the time to delve deep into data. Therefore, ensuring that your content is both inspiring and tailored to your audience is one of the most essential data visualization techniques imaginable.
Some stakeholders within your organization or clients and partners will be happy with a simple pie chart, but others will be looking to you to delve deeper into the insights you’ve gathered. For maximum impact and success, you should always conduct research about those you’re presenting to prior to a meeting, and collating your report to ensure your visuals and level of detail meet their needs exactly.
2. Set Your Goals
Like any business-based pursuit, from brand storytelling right through to digital selling and beyond – with the visualization of your data, your efforts are only as effective as the strategy behind them.
To structure your visualization efforts, create a logical narrative and drill down into the insights that matter the most. It’s important to set a clear-cut set of aims, objectives, and goals prior to building your management reports graphs, charts, and additional visuals.
By establishing your aims for a specific campaign or pursuit, you should sit down in a collaborative environment with others invested in the project and establish your ultimate aims in addition to the kind of data that will help you achieve them.
One of the most effective ways to guide your efforts is by using a predetermined set of relevant KPIs for your project, campaigns, or ongoing commercial efforts and using these insights to craft your visualizations.
3. Choose The Right Chart Type
One of the most effective data visualization methods on our list; to succeed in presenting your data effectively, you must select the right charts for your specific project, audience, and purpose.
For instance, if you are demonstrating a change over a set of time periods with more than a small handful of insights, a line graph is an effective means of visualization. Moreover, lines make it simple to plot multiple series together.
**click to enlarge**
An example of a line chart used to present monthly sales trends for a one-year period in a clear and glanceable format.
Here are three other effective chart types for different data visualization concepts:
a) Number charts
Real-time number charts are particularly effective when you’re looking to showcase an immediate and interactive overview of a particular key performance indicator, whether it’s a sales KPI, site visitations, engagement levels or a percentage of evolution.
First of all, maps look great which means they will inspire engagement in a board meeting or presentation. Secondly, a map is a quick, easy, and digestible way to present large or complex sets of geographical information for a number of purposes.
c) Pie charts
While pie charts have received a bad rep in recent years, we feel that they form a useful visualization tool that serves up important metrics in an easy-to-follow format. Pie charts prove particularly useful when demonstrating the proportional composition of a certain variable over a static timeframe. And as such, pie charts will make a valuable item of your visualization arsenal.
d) Gauge charts
This example shows the operating expense ratio, strongly related to the profit and loss area of your finance department’s key activities, and this color-coded health gauge helps you gain access to the information you need, even at a quick glance.
Gauge charts can be effectively used with a single value or data point. Whether they’re used in financial or executive dashboard reports to display progress against key performance indicators, gauge charts are an excellent example to showcase an immediate trend indication.
To find out more, and expand your data visualization techniques knowledgebase, you can explore our selected data visualization types a simple guide on how and when to use them.Exclusive Bonus Content:Curious about data viz Techniques Download our free summary on how to make striking visual data!
4. Take Advantage Of Color Theory
The most straightforward of our selected data visualization techniques – selecting the right color scheme for your presentational assets will help enhance your efforts significantly.
The principles of color theory will have a notable impact on the overall success of your visualization model. That said, you should always try to keep your color scheme consistent throughout your data visualizations, using clear contrasts to distinguish between elements (e.g. positive trends in green and negative trends in red).
As a guide, people, on the whole, use red, green, blue, and yellow as they can be recognized and deciphered with ease.
5. Handle Your Big Data
With an overwhelming level of data and insights available in today’s digital world – with 1.7 megabyte of data to be generated per second for every human being on the planet by the year 2020 – handling, interpreting and presenting this rich wealth of insight does prove to be a real challenge.
To help you handle your big data and break it down for the most focused, logical, and digestible visualizations possible, here are some essential tips:
- Discover which data is available to you and your organization, decide which is the most valuable, and label each branch of information clearly to make it easy to separate, analyze, and decipher.
- Ensure that all of your colleagues, staff, and team members understand where your data comes from and how to access it to ensure the smooth handling of insights across departments.
- Keep your data protected and your data handling systems simple, digestible, and updated to make the visualization process as straightforward and intuitive as humanly possible.
- Ensure that you use business dashboard that present your most valuable insights in one easy-to-access, interactive space – accelerating the visualization process while also squeezing the maximum value from your information.
6. Use Ordering, Layout, And Hierarchy To Prioritize
Following on our previous point, once you’ve categorized your data and broken it down to the branches of information that you deem to be most valuable to your organization, you should dig deeper, creating a clearly labelled hierarchy of your data, prioritizing it by using a system that suits you (color-coded, numeric, etc.) while assigning each data set a visualization model or chart type that will showcase it to the best of its ability.
Of course, your hierarchy, ordering, and layout will be in a state of constant evolution but by putting a system in place, you will make your visualization efforts speedier, simpler, and more successful.
7. Utilize Word Clouds And Network Diagrams
To handle semi-structured or decidedly unstructured sets of data efficiently, you should consult the services of network diagrams or cloud words.
A network diagram is often utilized to draw a graphical chart of a network. This style of layout is useful for network engineers, designers, and data analysts while compiling comprehensive network documentation.
Akin to network diagrams, word clouds offer a digestible means of presenting complex sets of unstructured information. But, as opposed to graphical assets, a word cloud is an image developed with words used for particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance within the context of the information.
8. Include Comparisons
This may be the briefest of our data visualization methods, but it’s important nonetheless: when you’re presenting your information and insights, you should include as many tangible comparisons as possible. By presenting two graphs, charts, diagrams together, each showing contrasting versions of the same information over a particular timeframe, such as monthly sales records for 2016 and 2017 presented next to one another, you will provide a clear-cut guide on the impact of your data, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, trends, peaks, and troughs that everyone can ponder and act upon.
9. Tell Your Tale
Similar to content marketing, when you’re presenting your data in a visual format with the aim of communicating an important message or goal, telling your story will engage your audience and make it easy for people to understand with minimal effort.
Scientific studies confirm that humans, in large, respond better to a well-told story and by taking this approach to your visualization pursuits, you will not only dazzle your colleagues, partners, and clients with your reports and presentations, but you will increase your chances of conveying your most critical messages, getting the buy-in and response you need to make the kind of changes that will result in long-term growth, evolution and success.
To do so, you should collate your information, thinking in terms of a writer, establishing a clear-cut beginning, middle, and end, as well as a conflict and resolution, building tension during your narrative to add maximum impact to your various visualizations.
10. Apply Visualization Tools For The Digital Age
We live in a fast-paced, hyper-connected digital age that is far removed from the pen and paper or even copy and paste mentality of the yesteryears – and as such, to make a roaring visualization success, you should use the digital tools that will help you make the best possible decisions while gathering your data in the most efficient, effective way.
A task-specific, interactive online dashboard or tool offers a digestible, intuitive, comprehensive, and interactive mean of collecting, collating, arranging, and presenting data with ease – ensuring that your techniques have the most possible impact while taking up a minimal amount of your time.
We hope these data visualization concepts served to help propel your efforts to new successful heights. To enhance your ongoing activities, explore our cutting-edge business intelligence and online data visualization tool.
ADVANTAGES OF DATA VISUALIZATION
Big files with numbers are usually hard to read and make it difficult to spot patterns easily. However, many organizations believe that developing visual reports focused on creating stories around data is unnecessary; they think that the data alone should be sufficient for decision-making. Visualizing supports this and lightens the decision-making process.
Luckily, there are ways and programs that help to visualize all the data your company has into dashboards, graphs and reports. Data visualization helps transform your numbers into an engaging story with details and patterns. In this article, you will learn the advantages of data visualization.
Using data visualization, managers and decision-makers can easily create and rapidly consume important metrics. If any of these metrics have anomalies — ie. Sales are significantly down in one region — decision makers will easily dig into the data to find out what operating circumstances or decisions are at stake and how they respond to the factors encountered.
Data visualization enables us to recognize emerging trends and respond rapidly on the grounds of what we see. Such patterns make more sense when graphically represented; because visuals and diagrams make it easier for us to identify strongly correlated parameters. Certain relations are obvious, but others need to be recognized and clarified to help us concentrate on a particular data point which can have an effect on business.
Story telling is more engaging
Tableau is one of the leader in helping you visualize your data. You can build dashboards and turn them into stories. The reason why this program is so successful is because storytelling is a model which enables us to easily create a narrative through graphics and diagrams through which, with the help of visual analytics, we can discover new insights and engage others. Conveying the message in a story is much more engaging and easier to understand for your employees.
Speed up the decision-making process
Humans can process visual images 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore, seeing a graph, chart, or other visual representation of data is more comfortable for the brain to process, than for it to read and comprehend text, and then convert this into a mental visualization (that likely will not be entirely accurate) of the data.
Thanks to our ability to easily interpret visual data , data visualization can dramatically improve the speed of decision making process According to the Wharton School of Business, data visualization can shorten business meetings by up to 24 percent.
Not just a simple pie chart
Today, we can move away from a bar graph or a pie chart, although they can still be useful at times. However, with current and more advanced data visualization capabilities, users can also make more advanced visualizations possible. For example, a simple way to visualize any random data is to configure it in a bubble graph or a heat map. For more sophisticated research, you can choose displays such as frame diagrams (for hierarchical presentations) or Gantt charts (for project management).
These more advanced visualizations show that for any type of data set there is a good way to transform it into an easy-to-understand image.
Data visualisation allows sales representatives, marketing teams, and business executives to easily detect patterns large volumes of disorganised data. By using visual data discovery tools, organizations can effectively keep track of not just sales performance, but team and personnel performances, business conditions, and marketing trends as well.
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