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10 Essential Data Visualization Techniques, Concepts & Methods To Improve Your Business – Fast

Data visualization is developing as one of the most important branches of the whole digital evolution

“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes. A sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.” – David McCandless

Did you know? 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.

Concerning professional growth, development, and evolution, using data-driven insights to formulate actionable strategies and implement valuable initiatives is essential. Digital data not only provides astute insights into critical elements of your business but, if presented in an inspiring, digestible, and logical format, it can tell a tale that everyone within the organization can get behind.

Data visualization methods refer to the creation of graphical representations of information. Visualization plays an important part of data analytics and helps interpret big data in a real-time structure by utilizing complex sets of numerical or factual figures.

With the seemingly infinite streams of data readily available to today's businesses across industries, the challenge lies in data interpretation, which is the most valuable insight to the individual organization as well as its aims, goals, and long-term objectives.

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That's where data visualization comes in.

Due to the way the human brain processes information, presenting insights in charts or graphs to visualize significant amounts of complex data is more accessible than relying on spreadsheets or reports.

Visualizations offer a swift, intuitive, and simpler way of conveying critical concepts universally – and it's possible to experiment with different scenarios by making tiny adjustments.

Recent studies discovered that the use of visualizations in data analytics could shorten business meetings by 24%. Moreover, a business intelligence strategy with visualization capabilities boasts a ROI of $13.01 back on every dollar spent.

Therefore, the visualization of data is critical to the sustained success of your business and to help you yield the most possible value from this tried and tested means of analyzing and presenting vital information. Here are 10 essential data visualization techniques you should know.

1. Know Your Audience

This is one of the most overlooked yet vital concepts around.

In the grand scheme of things, the World Wide Web and Information Technology as a concept are in its infancy - and data visualization is an even younger branch of digital evolution.

That said, some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs and executives find it difficult to digest more than a pie chart, bar chart, or a neatly presented visual, nor do they have the time to delve deep into data. Therefore, ensuring that your content is both inspiring and tailored to your audience is one of the most essential data visualization techniques imaginable.

Some stakeholders within your organization or clients and partners will be happy with a simple pie chart, but others will be looking to you to delve deeper into the insights you’ve gathered. For maximum impact and success, you should always conduct research about those you’re presenting to prior to a meeting, and collating your report to ensure your visuals and level of detail meet their needs exactly.

2. Set Your Goals

Like any business-based pursuit, from brand storytelling right through to digital selling and beyond - with the visualization of your data, your efforts are only as effective as the strategy behind them.

To structure your visualization efforts, create a logical narrative and drill down into the insights that matter the most. It’s important to set a clear-cut set of aims, objectives, and goals prior to building your management reports, graphs, charts, and additional visuals.

By establishing your aims for a specific campaign or pursuit, you should sit down in a collaborative environment with others invested in the project and establish your ultimate aims in addition to the kind of data that will help you achieve them.

One of the most effective ways to guide your efforts is by using a predetermined set of relevant KPIs for your project, campaigns, or ongoing commercial efforts and using these insights to craft your visualizations.

3. Choose The Right Chart Type

One of the most effective data visualization methods on our list; to succeed in presenting your data effectively, you must select the right charts for your specific project, audience, and purpose.

For instance, if you are demonstrating a change over a set of time periods with more than a small handful of insights, a line graph is an effective means of visualization. Moreover, lines make it simple to plot multiple series together.

Visual representation of a line chart for sales methods

**click to enlarge**

An example of a line chart used to present monthly sales trends for a one-year period in a clear and glanceable format.

Here are three other effective chart types for different data visualization concepts:

a) Number charts

Number chart is one of the data visualization techniques that can showcase the immediate amount of sales generated in a year

Real-time number charts are particularly effective when you’re looking to showcase an immediate and interactive overview of a particular key performance indicator, whether it’s a sales KPI, site visitations, engagement levels or a percentage of evolution.

b) Maps

In this example, data visualization methods are represented with a map chart, where you can easily see differences in sessions by continent

First of all, maps look great which means they will inspire engagement in a board meeting or presentation. Secondly, a map is a quick, easy, and digestible way to present large or complex sets of geographical information for a number of purposes.

c) Pie charts

 Data visualization concepts can be presented by a simple pie chart

While pie charts have received a bad rep in recent years, we feel that they form a useful  visualization tool that serves up important metrics in an easy-to-follow format. Pie charts prove particularly useful when demonstrating the proportional composition of a certain variable over a static timeframe. And as such, pie charts will make a valuable item of your visualization arsenal.

d) Gauge charts

Operating expenses ratio financial graph

This example shows the operating expense ratio, strongly related to the profit and loss area of your finance department’s key activities, and this color-coded health gauge helps you gain access to the information you need, even at a quick glance.

Gauge charts can be effectively used with a single value or data point. Whether they're used in financial or executive dashboard reports to display progress against key performance indicators, gauge charts are an excellent example to showcase an immediate trend indication.

To find out more, and expand your data visualization techniques knowledgebase, you can explore our selected data visualization types, a simple guide on how and when to use them.

Your Chance: Try a professional data visualization software for free!
Discover the power of visual data analysis with our 14-days free trial.

4. Take Advantage Of Color Theory

The most straightforward of our selected data visualization techniques - selecting the right color scheme for your presentational assets will help enhance your efforts significantly.

The principles of color theory will have a notable impact on the overall success of your visualization model. That said, you should always try to keep your color scheme consistent throughout your data visualizations, using clear contrasts to distinguish between elements (e.g. positive trends in green and negative trends in red).

As a guide, people, on the whole, use red, green, blue, and yellow as they can be recognized and deciphered with ease.

5. Handle Your Big Data

With an overwhelming level of data and insights available in today’s digital world - with roughly 1.7 megabytes of data to be generated per second for every human being on the planet by the year 2020 - handling, interpreting and presenting this rich wealth of insight does prove to be a real challenge.

To help you handle your big data and break it down for the most focused, logical, and digestible visualizations possible, here are some essential tips:

  • Discover which data is available to you and your organization, decide which is the most valuable, and label each branch of information clearly to make it easy to separate, analyze, and decipher.
  • Ensure that all of your colleagues, staff, and team members understand where your data comes from and how to access it to ensure the smooth handling of insights across departments.
  • Keep your data protected and your data handling systems simple, digestible, and updated to make the visualization process as straightforward and intuitive as humanly possible.
  • Ensure that you use business dashboards that present your most valuable insights in one easy-to-access, interactive space - accelerating the visualization process while also squeezing the maximum value from your information.

6. Use Ordering, Layout, And Hierarchy To Prioritize

Following on our previous point, once you’ve categorized your data and broken it down to the branches of information that you deem to be most valuable to your organization, you should dig deeper, creating a clearly labelled hierarchy of your data, prioritizing it by using a system that suits you (color-coded, numeric, etc.) while assigning each data set a visualization model or chart type that will showcase it to the best of its ability.

Of course, your hierarchy, ordering, and layout will be in a state of constant evolution but by putting a system in place, you will make your visualization efforts speedier, simpler, and more successful.

7. Utilize Word Clouds And Network Diagrams

An example of a word cloud technique

**click to enlarge**

To handle semi-structured or decidedly unstructured sets of data efficiently, you should consult the services of network diagrams or cloud words.

A network diagram is often utilized to draw a graphical chart of a network. This style of layout is useful for network engineers, designers, and data analysts while compiling comprehensive network documentation.

Akin to network diagrams, word clouds offer a digestible means of presenting complex sets of unstructured information. But, as opposed to graphical assets, a word cloud is an image developed with words used for particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance within the context of the information.

8. Include Comparisons

This may be the briefest of our data visualization methods, but it’s important nonetheless: when you’re presenting your information and insights, you should include as many tangible comparisons as possible. By presenting two graphs, charts, diagrams together, each showing contrasting versions of the same information over a particular timeframe, such as monthly sales records for 2016 and 2017 presented next to one another, you will provide a clear-cut guide on the impact of your data, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, trends, peaks, and troughs that everyone can ponder and act upon.

9. Tell Your Tale

Similar to content marketing, when you're presenting your data in a visual format with the aim of communicating an important message or goal, telling your story will engage your audience and make it easy for people to understand with minimal effort.

Scientific studies confirm that humans, in large, respond better to a well-told story and by taking this approach to your visualization pursuits, you will not only dazzle your colleagues, partners, and clients with your reports and presentations, but you will increase your chances of conveying your most critical messages, getting the buy-in and response you need to make the kind of changes that will result in long-term growth, evolution and success.

To do so, you should collate your information, thinking in terms of a writer, establishing a clear-cut beginning, middle, and end, as well as a conflict and resolution, building tension during your narrative to add maximum impact to your various visualizations.

10. Apply Visualization Tools For The Digital Age

We live in a fast-paced, hyper-connected digital age that is far removed from the pen and paper or even copy and paste mentality of the yesteryears - and as such, to make a roaring visualization success, you should use the digital tools that will help you make the best possible decisions while gathering your data in the most efficient, effective way.

A task-specific, interactive online dashboard or tool offers a digestible, intuitive, comprehensive, and interactive mean of collecting, collating, arranging, and presenting data with ease - ensuring that your techniques have the most possible impact while taking up a minimal amount of your time.

We hope these data visualization concepts served to help propel your efforts to new successful heights. To enhance your ongoing activities, explore our cutting-edge business intelligence and online data visualization tool.

To summarize our detailed article, here is an overview of the best data visualization techniques:

1. Know Your Audience

2. Set Your Goals

3. Choose The Right Chart Type

4. Take Advantage Of Color Theory

5. Handle Your Big Data

6. Use Ordering, Layout, And Hierarchy To Prioritize

7. Utilize Word Clouds And Network Diagrams

8. Include Comparisons

9. Tell Your Tale

10. Apply Visualization Tools For The Digital Age

Your Chance: Try a professional data visualization software for free!
Discover the power of visual data analysis with our 14-days free trial.

To get a more in-depth insight on what visualization techniques can do for you, try our  14-day trial completely free!