Data visualization is the process of converting raw data into business intelligence using visual objects like maps, line plots, and bar charts. These visualizations are often automated and aggregated in a custom dashboard.
When data is arranged and visualized in an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-read way, business leaders can make smarter, faster, and more powerful decisions.
However, not all visual arrangements of data are created equal. Let’s break down a few best practices for displaying and organizing data and showcase a few really good data visualization examples.
Data visualization best practices
1. Define Your Target Audience
Organizing data and bringing everything together into a beautiful dashboard doesn’t guarantee results. This is because data that’s relevant and useful for one person may or may not be useful to another person. Therefore, it’s important to define your target audience before diving into your data.
2. Clean Data
If you’re not using an automated and fully integrated BI solution to create data visualizations, then you’ll likely need to clean your data before doing creating anything out of it. During this process, you’ll need to review all data and remove errors or inaccuracies that can lead to skewed datasets.
3. Select The Right Chart
Once the data is thoroughly cleaned, you’ll need to identify the right platform for the job. You should select a graph or chart that can efficiently present the unique set of data, strategically convey information, and provide useful insights.
Before selecting your ideal visualization platform, consider the following factors:
Table: Tables can organize information in a pattern; however, they can confuse users looking for high-level patterns.
Line Graph: Line graphs measure patterns and variations over a given period and display interactions between variables.
Area Chart: Area charts are similar to line graphs; however, they shade the area displayed under the line.
Bar Chart: Bar charts are used to assess the total and varying amounts of each group.
Scatter Plot: Scatter plots compare factors plotted along different axes, where the pattern of corresponding points indicates an association between these points.
Pie Chart: Pie charts evaluate different sections of the same data set.
Heat map: Heat maps display data graphically where individual values are represented as colors.
4. Use Text & Filters Intentionally
Try to keep all vital information contained to the upper left corner (or at the top) of your visualization. And while multiple views of one dashboard is helpful, you’ll want to group filters together. You need to make sure that your data visualization is simple and not bogged down by too much text or too many unnecessary options.
5. Use the Right Visualization Tool
Selecting the right tool for your data is probably the most important aspect of data visualization. While there are a handful of well-known data visualization tools out there, a custom tool is always recommended. When you use a custom business intelligence tool, it can be fully integrated with all other platforms and tools you use. On top of this, all data processing can be automated – which means you’re always working with clean, real-time data.
Keep Reading: Check out the top 3 features of business intelligence tools
3 of the best data visualization examples
Inception is an American film directed by Christopher Nolan that focuses on reality and dreams. The protagonist, Cobb, acts as an agent who can enter someone's dreams and interpret their innermost secrets. Cobb collaborates with others on industrial espionage projects. However, the film can be difficult to follow. To solve this problem, Inception used data visualization to explain the flow of events showcased in the movie. Provided in a simple, interactive, and colorful format, this particular visualization delivers a detailed exploration of the film's plot.
2. US Population by Age Group
Pew Research designed an animated GIF composite displaying population shifts in a given period. The GIF created by Pew Research provides sophisticated demographic data in an interactive, easy-to-understand way. In addition, this micro-content is incredibly easy to share on social media channels and to embed on websites.
3. NFL History
An Elo-rating – a simple measure of strength based on game-by-game results – is calculated for every game in the history of the National Football League. This particular visual presents over 300,000 ratings in total, which means that viewers can compare each team's Elo and see how it’s performed over the years.
Keep Reading: See real-world examples of business intelligence
How to get started with data visualization
The insights and trends your company can get from raw data can prove to be invaluable. On top of this, showcasing data in easy-to-understand dashboards can work wonders with clients, partners, and employees.
This being said, finding, implementing, and managing a data visualization solution can be a major hurdle for many companies interested in better business intelligence.
However, with a trusted BI provider, you can easily hop over this hurdle to unlock the full potential of your data. Here’s what to look for when searching for a business intelligence partner:
Find a partner who can bring all your data together
Find a partner who can 100% manage the security and privacy of your data
Find a partner who will stick around to manage the solution even after it’s implemented
Find a partner who can help you set up truly customized dashboards
If you need help getting started, we’d love to talk. At Teamworks, we help companies all across the country manage, automate, and visualize their data into beautiful BI dashboards. Give us a call or contact us to get started.