You may hear the phrase “data visualization” thrown around a lot. You may have even dipped your toes into the world of charts and graphs or infographics for your company—but do you truly understand the power that can be harnessed with correctly used data visualization?
IT innovator, teacher, and consultant Steven Few said, “Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.” What story are you telling with your data, or are you telling a story at all?
But how do you start to use data visualization to help your audience, your team, and yourself? Take this example from Information is Beautiful about data visualization. In this interactive example, they describe the important elements of data visualization in an appealing way. The four things they want you to consider are information, story, goal (function) and visual. Each of these is vitally important in getting your message across. If you combine visuals, information & story without considering functionality and your goal, your end result becomes useless.
Our attention span as humans continually gets shorter, but the amount of information we are presented with is continually growing.
Charts and Graphs
Sounds simple, right? It is. However, it is important to remember to put your data into easy-to-understand charts and visuals. They provide a snapshot into your company’s metrics and allow for quick conclusions.
You could implement a business success platform that utilizes dashboards to create charts for you. It will be up to you to look at the data snapshot and decide what comes next, but having it all at your fingertips makes for easier decision making on your end.
Think about visuals like line charts and waterfall graphs that presents information for a span of time in a straightforward and easy-to-conceptualize manner. Looking at these charts, even non-experts can understand the data in front of them. This not only helps you to know and understand your company’s YTD (year to date) performance, but also enables you to decide your future course of action.
Consider your audience as you create these visuals. Certain dynamic charts could be great for board meetings or pitches. Other information would perform well on social media or maybe in a monthly email blast. Strategic information isn’t just used internally, consider how you can utilize it to grow and reach new audiences.
This extends to your website as well. Is your site just blocks of text? Mix it up by embedding visually engaging dashboards or creating infographics that speak to your target audience. Make it as easy as possible for people to find what they are looking for. Take a look at the example below that was used on a school-district website. Perspective families could find the demographics they wanted instantly, without further searching or navigating through confusing blocks of text.
An easy and effective way to begin utilizing the data visuals you create is with infographics. Begin to think of your operational data in a new way. Infographics meet at the intersection of data and visuals, so they need to be thought of in a new way. It isn’t all about the design – the information and data should lead the design. After establishing an insightful dashboard or a series of charts and graphs, you can extrapolate that data into a fun and easy to understand infographic.
Infographics are best for data storytelling or breaking down complex concepts into easier to manage pieces. . Some simple infographics to start with include focus areas such as: who you are as a company and your driving mission, comparing and contrasting different services, or pitching why your company is of value to the end reader.=
Take the below for example. On the right, you have the initial information and stats, but on the left you have the completed infographic. Where does your eye go? Which would you rather read from? It makes a big difference.
The next time you look through a text report or a whitepaper, think about how that data could be better represented. Start to jot down ideas of what some visuals could look like and then meet with your marketing or design team to see what you can come up with.
In addition to showcasing your data, infographics attract attention from a wide audience because they’re easy to read and usually fun. Blogs and websites that utilize infographics perform better with SEO rankings and traffic. Something to keep in mind!
However you choose to visualize your data, it is important to keep in mind your target consumer and audience and remember that operationally intelligent data is the most powerful tool for any business.
To learn more about the most effective ways and best practices for communicating your data’s story, check out our free Guide on the Psychology of Data Visualization here.