Data Visualization 101

One sure-fire way to lose your audience is to give a bland presentation about numbers. While the rise and fall of digits matter to all of us – GDP, interest rates, profit margins – something about it transports our minds to thoughts of sandy beaches in faraway places.

Fortunately, there is a happy medium. Working with numbers, or I should say data points, is not only unavoidable, but it is also essential to sound decision-making. So, how can we give life to our discussions about numbers? That, my friend, is called data visualization. By representing data analysis in a graphic way, we engage audiences, prove our points, and demonstrate that we are achieving our goals. Let’s walk through a few specific examples of how creative data visualization helps deliver messages.

Mimic Industry Tools

How ingenious! This infographic, The Beat on Recorded Music Revenue, presents data that, on its own, does not seem remarkable. However, presenting the analysis in the form of a recording studio console with sound wave imagery is sure to draw in anyone who has even a slight interest in the subject. The infographic itself is so inviting that it guarantees that the content will be consumed and shared among and beyond the intended audience.

Mimic Industry Tool

Add Depth to the Text

Last week The Economist published, America’s elderly seem more screen-obsessed than the young, which presented the results of recent market research related to hours spent consuming media across four age groups. While the headline itself is quite compelling, the clever shapes and contrasting colors help communicate the data in a way that words alone do not accomplish.

Add Depth to the Text

Representative Illustrations

In Planet Earth, data artist Federica Fragapane draws us in with realistic drawings of various creatures, and completes the objective of conveying essential facts about each species. The consistent use of color and graphic elements enables the reader to compare the data, adding to the value of the publication as an educational tool for children.

Representative Illustration

Add Color to Your Numbers

Of course, these examples are a bit out of reach for quarterly reports and pitching new ideas. How can we use graphic elements to impress our audiences? Here are a few resources that may help you evaluate your options:

  • The Data Visualisation Catalogue – Severino Ribecca developed a library of more than 50 different formats that give shape to data. When you click on any of the formats, you will find a page dedicated to explaining its appropriate use and instructions for building an image of your own.
  • 20 Best Data Visualization Software Solutions of 2019 – FinancesOnline published this review of the top 20 data visualization tools. Each brief review describes the tool, how it differs from the others, why it was selected for the list, and reasons you might want to use it.
  • Information is beautiful – This gallery of outstanding data visualization artwork may provide inspiration for creatively communicating data.
  • Tableau Public – More amazing examples to inspire you. Tableau is one of the more highly-developed data visualization tools. This public site provides a wide range of graphic representations that you can revise to display your data.
  • 10 Free Data Visualization Tools – While this list from PC Magazine has been around a bit longer than the others, you would probably like to try your hand at data visualization before you need to find a way to pay for it. All but one of these tools are still active and provide a great place to start.

These are just a few examples of the ways that we can influence audiences by demonstrating objectives, challenges, and achievements through graphic representations of data. To learn more about analytics and data visualization, check out our conveniently-located traditional classroom and virtual courses.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Media Type:

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