Big companies and businesses receive huge amounts of data every day. In the past, companies spent a considerable amount of time and resources to process this data and make conclusions based on it. Nowadays, technologies let us make this process more effective, straightforward, and less time-consuming. Keep reading to understand how we can deal with big data without any frustration.
What is Data visualization
Have you ever heard the “An image can speak a thousand words” phrase? This phrase has never been so relevant as it is in our big data era. So, simply said, data visualization is the practice of turning data into a visualized context. Through visualized content, you can quickly notice the patterns and trends of big data and get sufficient information with a glance. Our brain responds to images and visuals better than any text. This is because our brain receives the primary information through visual sensors and processes it far more swiftly than text. Data visualization is used not only by people who own big data and need to draw conclusions and make decisions based on them but also by different professionals. The government, for instance, can use data visualization to tell citizens about ongoing reforms. People are better able to comprehend the visualized information. Teachers and professors may also use data visualization to show the statistics of students’ test results. Hence, knowing how to visualize your data will surely be a valuable and essential skill regardless of your professional background. The types of data visualization you use may also affect the effectiveness of your strategy. So, let’s look at some of the most common types of data visualization and see what they are best used for.
What are the most common types of data visualization
Data visualization is mainly done through various charts, which we will explore below and understand when to use them.
- Line Charts
Line charts are wonderful when displaying changes or trends over time for many categories. They are usually used when they need to show changes in information over time. These charts are also great for showing comparison. The chart’s horizontal axis usually shows years, days, months, or times, and the vertical axis already shows the variables according to which the change occurred. For example, the chart above compares the populations of Western states during a certain time period.
- Bar Chart
These charts are great for comparing variables with a quick glance. The heights of the values are directly proportional to the values they represent. As the line charts, bar charts also use vertical and horizontal axes where one of them shows the categories, while the other is the variables of the chart. Bar charts can also show changes over time, but they are less effective than line charts.
- Pie Chart
In a Pie Chart, information is divided into slices, and each piece shows a proportion of the whole with or without a percentage. The sum of the percentages of portions should equal 100. Pie charts are especially effective in communicating data when you want to show the relationship to some parts of the whole, represent the contribution of a proportion to the whole, or compare the contribution of different categories. Note that this type of chart is great to represent data of four or five categories but add more, and they will become very complex and hard to follow.
Another very handy chart type is a Histogram. Although visually, it is very similar to bar charts, it presents the frequency at which a data point appears in the data set. The horizontal axis of the chart represents the variables like minutes, grades or ages, and the vertical axis shows the frequency of a variable. For instance, the teacher may create a histogram, categorize how many people got As, Bs, and Cs, and present the results in the Histogram. Pay attention to the blank space between bars on charts to differentiate between bar charts and histograms. Histograms usually do not have such gaps as they show continuous data, while bar charts have.
- Table Chart
Although tables are not the most appealing and straightforward way to visualize data, they are still irreplaceable in some cases. When dealing with a data set with massive data with several categories and several trends or patterns that should be highlighted, tables are the best option.
- Organizational charts
Alt text: Organizational Chart
Organizational charts visualize a company’s or one of its unit’s structures in a hierarchical order, where the highest positions belong to the directors and CEOs of people. However, some charts are not in hierarchical order. On flat organizational charts, the importance of equality is highlighted. You can also use matrix organizational charts if your employees have more than one manager. Organizational charts are especially useful for introducing your company to a stranger or a new employee. They can quickly know the structure of your company and will memorize it better than if you would just tell them.
Why are charts important for businesses
You probably noticed that every business presentation has at least one chart in it. Why? Let’s quickly list some reasons charts play a significant role in business strategies.
- The first and most significant reason, as we have already discussed, is that charts allow us to present complex and big data in an easily comprehensible way. The reason lies in our biology. We tend to absorb and remember visually received information better. Colors, shapes, and lines help to create visually appealing charts. Besides, catching people’s attention in our digitalized and visualized world is a real challenge. Hence, charts are ideal for conveying big information and ensuring they notice it.
- According to the Wharton School of Business, businesses that use charts shorten their meetings by 24%, as it is easier and faster to find the necessary information and get clearer insights.
- Companies make better decisions with the use of charts. Charts are great tools to analyze data without missing any important aspect. When you have everything clearly displayed in a visual context and you do not have to dig through your documents and read again and again to find the data you need, you can make more effective and clever decisions.
- Charts increase audience engagement. Usually, your audience does not understand the big reports and cannot relate to them. But when you present it in visuals, they can quickly get the information and raise their opinion or action. Additionally, the credibility of your business grows when your audience sees genuine statistics rather than just descriptive text.
How to create charts
As our technological era puts more and more requirements on people every day, it also provides tools and resources to meet them. There are plenty of tools free and available that are both easy to use and allow you to create advanced and professional charts. You can use the WordPress Chart plugin to create any type of charts with easy customizable chart templates. This plugin makes it easier than ever to create a chart in four simple steps by just setting up the plugin, selecting your desired type of chart, and importing data to it. And there you go, your chart is ready and waiting for you to utilize it and get the maximum benefit from it.
5 Tips to create better charts for your business
Alt text: Tips to create better charts for your business
- Set a clear purpose– You should know why you are making a chart and what is the purpose of it to understand what kind of chart you need to create.
- Keep your charts simple– Your charts should convey messages as sentences. Charts also need to be as simple as possible. Cut down any data that is unnecessary. If your chart confuses people more than it informs, then you probably need to make changes in your chart. It will be more effective to create several charts, each of them conveying a separate and straightforward message, than to try to unite everything but make it hard to comprehend.
- Highlight the key elements of your charts– It is up to you to force your viewers to pay attention to aspects of your charts you want. With charts, you have ample opportunities to do this through colors or graphics. For instance, you can use monochrome colors for every category of data and use a very bright and catchy color for the one you want your audience to notice first.
- Make your charts comprehensible without background information– Many people do not always read full articles or reports. They usually skim through it and concentrate on graphics more. Hence, your charts should be understandable, even without any other information, to communicate the main idea of your article or presentation to your audience without causing any inconvenience to them.
- Tell your audience where you get the data on your chart from– Having reliable references in your charts will increase your credibility and reputation in the eyes of your audience.
As we understood, data visualization is the technique used to turn plain data into more pictorial and interactive formats- charts. These charts can have significant benefits for your business, starting from saving time to better decisions for your business. There are many varieties of chart types, and each of them has its own unique features and purposes. Make sure to choose the right chart based on your business goals and needs, and then just create your charts in a few steps through the Chart Builder Plugin. Do not forget to consider my tips for chart making to create more professional and goal-oriented charts.