Data visualization is a vast field that has numerous features and concepts attached to it. But before we jump into what are the best practices for data visualization, let us see what data visualization means.
Data visualization is the process of presentation of data pictorially in the form of graphs or charts. It helps in breaking complex data into simpler forms that are easier to understand. Though it may seem simple to represent data into charts, there are certain points that should be taken care of while doing so, let us discuss what the best practices of data visualization are.
Answer their questions
This goes without saying. The data represented must answer the queries the audience were searching for. The visualizations must be debatable, organized and engaging. There is no point in a chart or graph if the audience can’t see the purpose behind it. Any visualization should spell out what the viewer was searching for.
Plan the design and follow a method
You may be no designer but you sure can turn into one with data visualization. There is no point whatsoever in writing content blatantly in any format and including pictures and charts here and there making no sense at all. When visualizing data into images, be sure to plan it out first.
Do your research and understand from an audience’s perspective on how the data needs to be presented for them to grasp it. Always follow a method of creating a design, designing the visuals, collecting the data and then putting it all together.
Telling stories with data
Not considered a popular fact but stories are the best way to convey any form of data, be it historical or scientific, especially with pictures. Data visualization can be used to create an engaging narrative and convey informative data in a simpler way. As stories are something people will be more tempted to read, they will compliment your data well and keep the reader engaged and wanting for more.
Know your dashboard needs
Each dashboard, the data management tool has its own needs. For example, a strategic dashboard is where the user’s query is answered in a specific way where the key parameters are presented in a less interactive way.
The analytical dashboard is where KPIs are given a highly interactive view but the main concept is limited to contextual insights. And the operational dashboard provides the readers with up to date answers and monitors all operational concerns.
Pick the right colors
The colors used in any chart or graph is as important as the data. The wrong choice of colors might confuse and even complicate the visualized data even more. Like if you’re drawing a bar or pie chart and use the same type of color for representing different categories, the resultant picture would make it harder to distinguish between them.
Similarly, using bright out loud colors do the same and hurt the viewer’s eyes, making it difficult to view the data. Keep colors to the minimal and don’t overdo the colors to make it look presentable.
Keep it simple
Not just the colors, even the numbers, and texts should be just enough. Too much addition of details to the chart only will make it look cluttered and unreadable. Add enough details to convey the data but don’t overcrowd the visual.
Animate but don’t inanimate
Animated charts are quite popular today and give that ever so energetic boost to your chart and make it look presentable. For example, if you are focusing on an important part of the chart, it is a good idea to animate it as human eyes tend to be drawn to motion.
However, unnecessarily involving animations will cause distractions and will only slow down the website more. Avoid meaningless addition of any animation in data visualization.
Readability of topmost importance
It is easy to make your data look pretty and presentable but more than being pleasing to the yes what data really should be is clear and understandable. Data visualization when done right must communicate with the readers effectively. Besides as the saying goes, not all that glitters is gold.
A content that’s stuffed with big words and pretty charts might still be useless. Sure an ideal data visualized must be both presentable and clear but if you have to just go for one, go for the latter.
These are some of the points that are considered to be the best practices when it comes to data visualization. Next time when dealing with a chart or dashboard do keep these in mind.