8 Things to Keep in Mind When Producing Data Visualizations

Data visualization is about presenting information in some kind of graphical form. The human eye has very powerful detection abilities. When you transform a table into a graph, for example, you don't add new information, but for many it is easier to see long-term trends and individual dips and spikes. Visualizations can be used as valuable analytic tools that enable identification of patterns in data that would otherwise be extremely hard to find or see. Here are a few tips about getting the most out of your data visualizations.

1. Gather data

Use tools like Bime to mash up your multiple data sources to get unique insights.

2. Use great design

Lots of applications come with pre-built designs that you can use. Others let you customize to a certain extent. If you are using graph-based data, choose your charts carefully - and as long as the data allows, keep it simple and functional.

3. Interactivity

Whenever you are working with data online, you have the chance to provide your users with interactivity. Sometimes, static infographics are good enough to display information but sometimes you will get significantly more interest and understanding if you provide a dashboard that users can play around with for themselves.

4. Quirky is as important as correct

It's generally not enough to just present the raw facts - interesting comparisons and strong imagery improve the shareability of any piece. We are all wired to remember (and therefore to repeat) comparisons better than plain facts.

5. Know your targets

You need to know first of all who your targets are, and then find a way to reach them. Make sure your visualization is seen by your target market, whether colleagues, customers or senior management, and make an effort to target any niches within that market.

6. Provide the embed code (with the link)

You should provide the embed code primarily for two reasons:

- to make it easy for non-tech-savvy bloggers to share your content - to make sure (if you can) to get a link out of it

If you can style and include the link in a relevant way (especially if it links to more data or more information) you are likely to increase the chance that the people embedding your content will embed the link along with it.

7. Take information out There’s a tradition among users of showing absolutely everything - all data points, the whole range, every column and row. But the best visualizations are about clarity with unnecessary information excluded.

8. Self-sufficiency All graphs, charts and infographics should be self-sufficient. I.e., other information should not be required in order to understand them. Each should have a clear title, legend, source, labels etc.

Adapted from Data Visualization Techniques by SEOmozBlog.