What is data visualization and simple examples to customize
Representing and communicating data insights is a major challenge in the era of “Big Data.” In 2021, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created every day. People, teams, and organizations must wade through a staggering number of data points to transform the deluge of information into actionable insight.
Data visualization is a way to represent complex information with evocative text and simple imagery, used to highlight trends, growth, and changes in variable data to help readers quickly connect to valuable insights. Making use of fundamental tools like charts, indicators, and infographics, data visualization simplifies the stories told by today’s massive datasets, helping teams to identify connections and relationships between data, and enabling better business decisions and more meaningful strategy development.
Accomplishing strategic goals through data visualization
Data visualization can benefit many types of teams and organizations across an array of industries. The strategic uses for data visualization and infographics are vast, and can include:
- Simplifying public health research to communicate to diverse populations
- Visually breaking down spending and budget allocations
- Identifying the emerging trends of consumer tastes and preferences
- Depicting the progress of a project
- Analyzing insights from an opinion poll
- Comparing rates of illness among different communities
Narrowing down insights from complex data sets is only part of the equation. Color and creativity are essential to compelling and convincing data visualization. Infographics are an effective and commonly used tool for serving up your data story in ways that grab readers and illuminate insights.
What makes a good infographic?
The secret to making data visualizations and infographics that work? Show, don’t tell.
An infographic allows others to visualize your complex data story and get your point across. They typically feature a concise collection of smaller data visualizations, like charts and graphs, as well as eye-grabbing text, icons, imagery, and additional graphics. Together, they aid in presenting information in visually inviting ways that connect with readers. Infographics can be used across devices and platforms, including PDFs, printouts, social posts, and more.
The best infographic designs represent data, instructions, routines, or systems, while keeping text to a minimum. They can be a fun visualization of a single data point supporting a larger story, or an entire page that uses distinct visuals to share multiple pieces of information about one core topic.
Think about the story you’d like to tell, and what data you’d need to collect to support that story. For example, if you’re trying to show growth in a brand’s social media presence, look for statistics on audience and engagement growth to determine and convey a trend.
Be sure to clearly articulate your main message or insights, leverage the visuals as proof points to your thesis, and let your design and templates do the rest of the work!
Concise text and clear images: Making data visualization make sense
Creating effective data visualizations and infographics requires clearly communicating ideas in words and pictures. Indicators and pictograms help convey critical information, guiding readers through your data story with the use of icon-style illustrations and concise, incisive headlines.
An indicator is perfect for when you need to display a single-value piece of data, when there is no need for comparison. They also indicate the hierarchy and importance of information to the reader. For example, you can lead with an impressive statistic as the headline and explain the meaning in smaller text below. Choose numbers that support your infographic's overall point or argument, then choose fonts and colors that align with your needs and branding. While this approach is simple, it still provides an effective tool for education.
A pictogram provides another creative way to represent parts of a whole. Instead of using bars or slices of a pie, you can include images relevant to your topic and use them to indicate a specific portion. For example, if you're comparing different countries' populations, instead of listing numbers or providing a bar graph, you can use flags or national symbols to represent each country mentioned. Using a pictogram can add personality to your data visualization.
Making data tell a story: Pie charts, line charts, bar charts
Charts can be a diagram, picture, or graph used to visually convey information and data. They are a helpful way to represent analysis of data points like percentages, growth, or trends. Pie, line, and bar charts can work separately or together in an infographic to create a data visualization that creates understanding and consensus around research, metrics, ideas, and trends.
Ways to use pie charts
Pie charts are perfect for visually representing percentages or parts of a whole. Instead of simply listing numbers, you can provide a more meaningful visual. Keep in mind that you don't want to include more than six categories with each chart. Otherwise, you risk creating a crowded and confusing visual that takes away from the point you are trying to make. Examples of visualizing data with pie charts include:
- Visualizing what portion of an organization’s budget is going to which department
- Comparing the split of market share between different popular running shoe brands
- Showing the result of survey data from popular opinion polls
Ways to use line charts
Using dots placed at specific times and connected with a line to highlight changes more clearly, the line chart is a classic data visualization tool that has not gone out of style. The vertical axis on a line chart represents the number of units, and the horizontal axis maps out the year by a measurement of time, like weeks, months, quarters, or years. They are instrumental in showing trends over time. Examples for using line charts include:
- Comparing the economic output of different countries
- Visualizing how well a product has sold month-to-month
- Tracking a team or organization’s productivity for project management purposes
Ways to use bar charts
Bar charts are yet another simple and effective data visualization tool that you can easily incorporate into infographics. This type of chart is best for comparing different amounts. All it takes is a quick glimpse to see which bar is longer and infer meaning from the contrasting bars — the length of the bar corresponds with a specific value within a range. Ways to use bar charts include:
- Comparing how many people contributed to industry growth, such as how many new nurses have entered the medical field over a specific period
- Monitoring the month-over-month traffic to a website
- Showing the number of Olympic medals won by a country
Steps for data visualization using infographics
Define the goal
Clearly define the purpose of your infographic — that means understanding your audience and deciding what message you want to send.
Collect relevant data
Collect relevant data from reputable sources. Your infographic should be trustworthy and informative, which means you need to take the time to conduct thorough research and see what the data shows. Don't make the mistake of trying to fit data to your idea. Take advantage of .gov and .edu sites, and refine your results by using Google Scholar and filtering your results to use information from the past year, and not outdated studies.
Choose the best chart
Choose the best chart for your data. Are you comparing different parts of a whole? Then a pie chart will work best. Do you need to show how sales of other numbers have changed over time? If so, a line chart will be your most effective choice. Use the examples listed above to determine the best one.
Choose the proper templates
Find a suitable template for your infographic. With tools like Adobe Express, you can choose various customizable templates to help create a professional-looking infographic. You don't have to start from scratch or be a design expert.
Finalize and share
Make the tough call and decide on your design choices. Once you have put together your data, chosen a template from Adobe Express, and created stunning data visualizations, it is time to put the final touches on your infographic. Be sure to use fonts and colors that match the style of your website, logo, and other marketing materials. Your designs will help build a sense of cohesion around your brand.