We Share Because We Care: Data Visualization

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Data Visualization Audience ImageEarlier this month, a few of our team members attended a Midwest Digital Marketing Conference seminar at the University of Missouri St. Louis. The seminar we attended was on data visualization by speaker Kaiser Fung. He is a talented statistician, blogger, author and founder of Principal Analytics Prep. His talk focused on what makes a good visualization and how to avoid common mistakes that can distract from your data and message. Kaiser had 4 main takeaways of do’s and don’ts for data visualizations.

  1. 1. Make it easy.
  2. 2. Be wary of imagery.
  3. 3. Avoid mixed messages.
  4. 4. Use layers.

Data Visualization Do's and Don'ts ImageMake it easy was in reference to keeping your data clean, clear and to the point. When looking at a visualization, any individual should be able to see it and understand on a basic level what is being displayed. If the labels are taken off the graph, would a viewer still be able to understand your visualization?

Sometimes it’s tempting to be extra colorful, or use a unique chart to tell our data story, but we should avoid excess when we can and let the data speak for itself. Being wary of imagery is a reminder to avoid chart junk or unnecessary visual elements on the graph that can distract from your information.

Avoiding mixed messages was about giving the right context with your data. Be clear and to the point with your title, have a purpose with your data so that it tells a story and anyone can understand it’s message.

Use layers in your visualization to add clarity. Excessive layering with bright colors can be distracting, but applying a grid overlay with clean labels, appropriate colors, and simple lines adds clarity.

Overall, Mr. Fung’s message was to be simple and straight forward. Don’t do anything too complicated. Be practical and easy to understand; just let your data do the talking.

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