Why Data Visualisation Is More Than a Pretty Image

Looking at a string, list or collection of data isn’t necessarily what many would describe as fun or interesting. Even data scientists — up to their knees in statistics, data and raw info — find the practice a boring part of their job. It’s what comes after — sharing and deploying the actionable insights — that makes the job worthwhile.

Organizing the data manually isn’t that much fun either, but this is 2018, and there are countless tools that can help make data more appealing.

It’s done via a process called data visualization, which is nothing more than taking a grouping or collection of data and giving it an aesthetic spin. Think voting stats and representations shown on a country map, or interactive charts that show the current percentages of an active and inactive audience.

When done right, they can look absolutely stunning — but that’s not all they’re good for. Visualization and data-charting have many benefits, outside of being converted to a pretty infographic or image.

  1. Easier to Understand, for Everyone

If a data scientist came up to you out of nowhere and plopped an entire folder of website traffic stats, design and feedback polls, and user data onto your desk, you’d find yourself frozen. The raw data is often too massive and complex to understand, even for a web designer or developer such as you. It’s not that you can’t sort through all those folders and files and extract information yourself, it’s more that you don’t have the time or resources.

However, if that same data scientist came to you and shared a data visualization of everything you need to know — including heat maps, pie charts and more — you’d know right away what to do with the data. This is because data visualizations make data troves much easier to understand and read, for everyone.

You can even parse the information down to a layman’s version for sharing with consumers and the social community at large.

  1. Discover Emerging Trends for Rapid Response Times

The sheer volume of data that companies and teams collect about their audience and working processes is insane. There’s often just as much being stored away as there is being put to use. This also means there’s more information at an organization or team’s fingertips than ever before, including doing things they never thought was possible. This is where predictive analytics comes into play.

By coming up with useful and informative data visualizations, teams can use the information to predict the future. More importantly, they can glean the necessary trends and take action before a problem gets out of hand, or before losing a particular boon to negligence.

Launch a new product and notice your customers are falling by the wayside? You can use data visualizations to identify the specific problem, so you can issue a revision to reverse those declining numbers.

Emotion

  1. It Can Trigger an Emotional Response

Beautiful, deep visualizations have the added benefit of engaging and evoking emotions from your audience on an entirely new level. Data in a visual, viewable form is a lot more tangible than when it’s raw. When a designers or scientists pull related data out of the abstract realm and makes it real, it suddenly has significantly more influence.

For example, you tell someone every nine out of 10 people is harmed during a certain event. Just hearing that and knowing the data has an impact, but in this case, it’s not enough. Turning that into a visual representation makes your data hit home.

  1. Visuals Are More Memorable

Naturally, visual and more engaging content also happens to be more memorable for. It’s not a secret that well-designed visualizations and images can enhance the relationship with a viewer or audience. In marketing, teams have been crafting targeted visual content for years now, because it’s so effective. Visual content can help customers and potentials remember your brand, long after visiting your site or channels.

Think of it this way: Even if you’re not into video games, you must understand that gameplay is important to many people. Visuals and mechanics are great, but whether or not the gameplay is fun or interesting is a huge concern. This is especially true of modern games, which are incredibly expensive.

Sadly, most game trailers and promotional videos show CGI or animated content as opposed to actual, tangible gameplay. So, where do you turn when you want a closer look? There’s a relatively new community through streaming services like Twitch and YouTube called Let’s Play. Users play a game live and interact with their audience — even in pre-recorded videos — but mostly you can watch and get a better idea for how a game works. This presents a more memorable and hands-on experience that interested gamers can use to their advantage.

The same is true of data presented in a more evocative and captivating format.

visual appeal

  1. Visualization Can Reveal More

Visualization can reveal a lot more about data or content than you’d get from looking at it in its raw form, but the point we’re trying to make here is that visualization can also help portray and create a story. In content marketing, you know the value and relevance of a story. In web design and development, the idea of a story takes the backburner.

However, some of the most powerful stories can be an incredible boon to any product or service. They help customers understand the content in question, but it also gives them something to follow and invest themselves in.

Check out this infographic or data visualization about how music evolved from 1958 to present.

  1. Clear Audience Sentiment Analysis

When you’re building a new design, website or product, one of the things you want to consider is the audience you’re targeting. What is it they want to see or need? It’s not uncommon for those working on a project to be incredibly out of touch with their audience, through no fault of their own.

With data visualization, teams can get a better and deeper understanding of their viewers and audience. It’s possible to see and understand what sites they frequent, what content they prefer, or even what colours and themes they gravitate to. Using modern data — and by proxy data visualizations to present it — developers and designers can learn a lot about their target audience, which is much better for branding and deployment.

Professional

  1. Grow Involvement on a Professional Level

When it comes to raw data, a scientist or data professional can look at the collected information and make more sense of it than your average person, or even those in upper management. They are trained to understand data — to identify what it is, what it means and what it can be used for.

What happens when you have a large collection of data or information, but you want to share it with a wider audience? Let’s say you want to make it usable by cross-business teams or even partner organizations. How would such a thing be possible with raw data, that only certain individuals have the skills and tools to understand?

The answer is, obviously, data visualization. Because you can take information and make it more usable, more engaging and more helpful, you can also include a wider group of analysts or team members. Data visualization allows you to grow involvement for a particular topic on a professional level.

  1. It’s More Fun

The final point on our list is simply that data visualization — when presented appropriately — is infinitely more enjoyable and fun for all. No one wants to look at a wall of bland, uninspiring information, even if it’s for work. You can make the entire experience better, more engaging and enjoyable by deploying it in a visual form.

Just glance at this list of fun data visualizations that made an impact. Nearly everything there, from the solar eclipse countdown to the subway hashtag map, is fun, engaging and incredibly memorable. How could you not associate Embarcadero with #alcatraz or San Mateo with #ramen?

Just because the work itself is relatively bland doesn’t mean you need to create something that’s just as dull. Web designers and developers spend a lot of time injecting their own personality and quirky outlooks into the content they create. Why not do the same with large stores of data?

Now You Know

Now you understand why data visualization and the kind of charts, infographics, media and visual content that stems from it is more than just visually appealing. It has its own set of real-world and experiential benefits, including for your audience and customers.

If you weren’t on board before reading this, hopefully you are now. Why not try your hand at creating something visual now? We’re sure you have data lying around somewhere that can be put to good use.