What is data visualization?
Data visualization is the process of taking all of your data reporting and transforming it into a visual format that makes it much easier to understand and interpret. With data visualizations, people of all different backgrounds and expertise can understand data in the same way.
For example, you may have a lot of information about your customers in a giant spreadsheet somewhere. While it is nice that you have collected so much information, you might find it difficult to interpret. After all, you might just see a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet and have no clue what to do with it.
Fortunately, with data visualization, you can transform those numbers into a visual form that makes it easier for you to pull out what is important. This makes it easy for businesses to identify patterns and errors in the data so they can make more informed decisions.
Why is data visualization important?
It's important to visualize your data because it makes it much easier for you to identify the most important parts of the data. For example, with data visualization software, you can gain in-depth insight into patterns and trends and pinpoint areas that need improvement.
Regardless of the amount of data you have, it is much easier to pull out the most important parts of that data if you transform it into a pie chart, graphical format, or some other visual tool. Then, you can identify other pieces of information that you may have otherwise overlooked if you simply left the data in a spreadsheet.
Advantages of data visualization
So, what is the purpose of data visualization? There are several advantages of using data visualization for your company, such as:
Enhanced data understanding
One of the biggest advantages of data visualization is that you will have an easier time understanding the information in front of you. When you simply see numbers on a page, it might be difficult to grasp just how important the information is and what the data points mean.
However, if you transform the data into a visual format, you will have an easier time understanding the most important components. Then, you can use the information you gather to make data-driven decisions, which can set your company up for success.
By turning data into a visual format, you may be able to extract insights that you would have otherwise overlooked.
Improved decision making
Another advantage of data visualization is that you'll have an easier time understanding your audience insights, which can make it easier for you to make the right decisions for your company.
Just because you have accumulated a tremendous amount of information doesn't necessarily mean you know what to do with it. Instead, you need to understand what the information means before you can decide on the appropriate course of action.
By visualizing data, you can analyze important information related to your customers, allowing you to position your company to better meet their needs.
Better communication of data insights
Figuring out what's important about your data is one thing, but conveying that to someone else is something entirely different. You can probably talk for hours about the importance of your data, but how do you know that your audience will understand you?
Fortunately, data visualization can help with presenting data in a way that is easy for anyone to understand.
For example, you might use tools to analyze website performance, but how are you going to explain to someone else what the data means? With data visualization, you can actually show your audience the importance of the information you have collected. Data visualization makes it easier to present data to customers, clients, or even co-workers.
Finally, data visualizations can make it much easier for you to increase efficiency throughout the company. Think about how long it takes to go through a spreadsheet of information by hand, let alone have your entire company go through that spreadsheet.
It can take a lot of time to go through this data manually, but you can save a lot of time by visually communicating it. It’ll be easier for someone to understand data if they look at a chart or graph rather than a bunch of numbers on a page.
With data visualizations, anyone can interpret and understand data, not just data scientists.
Types of data visualizations
Are you ready to bring your data to life through visual representation? If so, you may be curious about the various techniques available for data visualization.
A few examples of common visualization methods include:
If you are showing segments of information that fall into different categories, you should consider using a bar chart. A vertical bar chart is helpful when comparing different categories, such as age groups or product classes. A horizontal bar chart is ideal if you’re showing categories with long names.
Bar graphs are great for showing differences in orders of magnitude between categories and classes.
If you need a tool to help you show changes over time, you should use a horizontal line graph or chart. This type of graph is beneficial for identifying areas of resistance in your data set.
Even though you can use a bar chart to show changes over time, a line chart is better if there are relatively small changes over shorter periods because it will be much easier for people to pinpoint the variations.
If you have information that you can divide into different segments of the whole, you should use a pie chart. The slices in the pie chart will represent different percentages of the total value, and with categorical data, you can make each category a different color.
Pie charts make it easy to see if there is one category in the data set that is dominating the others, and you can divide a pie chart into as many categories as are required.
If you have two variables that pair well together, you may want to use a scatter plot. You can plot the two variables on a scatter diagram, which makes it easier for people to see their relationship and understand what that means for your business.
One of the most powerful personalized marketing tools is heat maps. A heat map is great for providing your department with an analysis of how people interact with your website.
Essentially, a heat map will show where people spend most of their time on your website. What pages are doing the best? What images do people look at the longest? You can show all of this with a heat map.
A heat map easily shows people where and how visitors interact with your website, so you can identify areas that need improvement.
If geography is important for your business, you may want to use a geographic map.
Geographic maps show population density so you can determine where most of your website visitors are coming from. Then, you can figure out why your visitors are coming from a specific area and adjust your marketing plan accordingly.
Data visualization best practices
To present data in a compelling and effective manner, it is essential to follow a few best practices. These include:
- Label the axes: If you develop a graph or a chart, you need to label the axes and categories appropriately. That makes it easy for people to understand what each category is.
- Use legends: Do you have category names that are too large to fit on the page? If so, you need to use legends. Legends are important for letting people know what the graph is about.
- Contrast colors: Do not use colors that are too similar. If you have a handful of categories, make sure you choose colors that are easy to tell apart.
- Enlarge the image: You may know what the data is about because you have made the chart, but you need to enlarge the image to make it easier for people to see.
- Do not clutter: If you have a lot of information to share, consider creating multiple charts. Do not clutter the image, as this will make it difficult for people to understand the graph.