Last Updated on January 21, 2019
The world is increasingly gravitating towards the use of statistical data as a problem-solving tool, whether in sports, medicine and even politics. As you would expect, however, not many people would know what to do when presented with raw data, which necessitates the use of data visualization tools such as graphs and charts. If you’re looking to be a data visualization expert, here are 10 tips to keep in mind:
1. Data Should Complement Textual Information, Not Replace It
Always remember that the purpose of statistics visualization is to make raw data easily digestible for the masses. Charts and graphs are great and all but they should never replace words, but rather complement them.
For instance, statistics to do with population and opinion polls are mostly self-explanatory and don’t require complex visualization. Simply put, you should only consider data visualization when your data can’t be explained through text alone.
2. Determine the Purpose of Your Visual Data Analysis
Being conscious of what your types of visualizations are meant to accomplish helps you plan effectively and do the right things. Some of the questions you should ask your questions include:
- Do you want to inform or educate your audience?
- Do you want your audience to take specific actions after going through your visuals?
- Do you want to influence people’s views or opinions?
Knowing your purpose helps you know whether to use single or multiple datasets, what kind of information to include and how to present the facts for visual data analysis.
3. Know How to Use Colors Correctly
Different colors symbolize different feelings and or dynamics in different cultures. For example, in the West, color green represents positive things, such as growth in customer numbers, while red represents regression and negative events. In most Asian countries, however, red represents positive dynamics. Knowing where your audience comes from helps you choose the right types of colors to use.
4. Tailor Your Visualizations to Your Audience’s Levels of Expertise
Education levels, expertise, and level of experience determine how different people interpret, and subsequently understand data visualizations. If, for instance, you’re targeting a group of high-level business executives, you may want to use as much detail as possible as well as include different types of visuals. For the ordinary people, simple diagrams and detailed explanations will be quite effective.
5. Be Considerate of Everyone
Statistics show that 1 in every 10 people are color-blind while many others are partially or completely blind. Further, there are millions of people who have problems reading small characters.
As a data visualization thinker aspiring to be competent, it is essential to consider all these groups as you go on with your work. Use visual analytics tools and techniques that allow you to reach out to everyone, even when they are visually impaired
6. Try Out Different Things
Each of the top data visualization tools offers different features and possibilities, and none is entirely perfect on its own. Therefore, don’t be afraid to combine multiple tools when creating your infographics to get the outcomes you want.
7. Understand Your Data
Having a clear understanding of your data and what it’s meant to achieve is one way to come up with practical and helpful data visualization infographics. You will know how many data points to include, types of tools to use and the visuals to include. Above all, you will be in a position to explain the data in a way even the least knowledgeable members of your audience will appreciate.
8. There’s Beauty in Simplicity
Don’t just stop at removing junk or using the least words, remove all irrelevant information, adjust where you can and minimize accessory sentences.
9. Always Double Check Your Work
Elsewhere in the article, we talk about the need to avoid intentional mistakes in your visualizations, and here, we appreciate that even the accidental errors can be costly.
This is because people could use your visualizations as a basis for actions, decisions and even opinions and any misrepresentation of facts could lead to wrong choices. As such, go through your work when you are done and correct obvious mistakes such as missing labels and missing data. Even better, always have a colleague or friend proofread your work.
10. Stick to the Ethics of Data Visualization
Above everything, be sure to stick to the ethics of data visualization to avoid lawsuits and misleading your audience. For one, cite all your data sources and avoid anonymous or unreliable sources such as Wikipedia. Also, do not knowingly use any data you know is untrue, incomplete or outdated as it makes you a terrible person as well as puts your publications at risk of being branded unreliable and consequently shunned.
Knowing how to do visualization is great but knowing how to do it properly and effectively is the key to being successful in the trade. The tips and ideas above are hopefully going to help you fulfill your purpose. Also, the comments are open in case you have any questions or suggestions!