Effective Data Visualization Techniques to Leverage Informed Decisions

Effective Data Visualization Techniques to Leverage Informed Decisions

This is where big data visualization helps firms and corporations shift from the outdated trend of traditional spreadsheets and reports to graphical representation for data analysis.

The Importance of Data Visualization

Today, organizations utilize a substantial amount of data that is often difficult for their teams to read and manage efficiently, so it's important that they have powerful resources at their disposal in order to generate the precise patterns required for informed decision making. This is where big data visualization helps firms and corporations shift from the outdated trend of traditional spreadsheets and reports to graphical representation for data analysis.

Data visualizations play an important role in the following aspects:

  • They're able to recognize areas in need of refinement.
  • They perform in-depth inspection in fields like marketing, accounting, design, technology, and finance.
  • They're capable of scanning large amounts of data quickly and effectively.
  • They're useful in identifying correlations and relationships that influence data or its users.

A laptop screen showing a data visualization breakdown showing active users over the last 7 days.

Factors Influencing Data Visualization Choices

It's important to present your data in a meaningful way, and there are a handful of factors that you should keep in mind when determining how to present your data.

Audience

First and foremost, it's important to consider your audience and the depth of data that's important to them. If your audience is made up of general fitness app users interested in the percentage of fellow users taking yoga classes in comparison to HIIT, cardio, and kickboxing classes, a simple pie chart may suffice. If you're putting together a lot of really complex data to present to a team of scientific researchers, however, a higher level of visualization may better suit your needs.

Content

The content of your data is especially important because it determines the kind of tactics you should employ when presenting your data. For example, if you're looking to indicate the relationship between two different things, a scatter plot may help you do that. Similarly, line charts help you display dynamics in relation to a timeline, and bar charts are helpful in exhibiting a direct comparison of two or more datasets.

Context

The whole point of creating visualizations for your data is to make it easy to read and understand what you're presenting in a single glance. Adding some context to your visualizations can make that process even more efficient because it helps viewers of your visualization better understand what they’re looking at. It can be as simple as putting "Record High" in red next to the highest point on a line for a line graph or adding a key beneath your chart.

Dynamics

When you’re representing various types of data, it’s important to recognize that each type is going to have a different rate of change. Financial results, for example, are typically measured on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, while time series and tracking data are changing constantly. Depending on the rate of change of your data, it may be best to consider more dynamic representation or static visualization techniques in data mining.

Purpose

The goal you’re looking to achieve with your data visualization also affects the way it should be implemented. In order to make a more complex analysis, visualizations should be compiled into controlled, dynamic dashboards that serve as visual data analysis techniques and tools. With that being said, dashboards are not absolutely necessary if you need to highlight a single or occasional data insight.

How Data Visualizations Leverage Informed Decision Making

Every business, no matter how large or how small, can boost its decision-making efficiency by implementing an appropriate data processing approach, and the following strengths of big data visualizations can help improve decision making.

Factors

Impact on Decision Making

Assist in Prediction

Visualization assists in fetching patterns from data sets. These patterns are then used by CEOs to make forecast decisions, distinguish between different trends, and to fabricate a methodology based on data insights.

Real-Time Monitoring

Executives can monitor multiple organizational factors like customer purchase growth summary, staff performance, and sales timeline—this detail transparency enables quick decisions.

Analyze Dependencies

Visualization of big data allows peers to see dependencies and relationships among elements for various events when we put data sets on a chart.

Determine Anticipated Risks

Visualized data helps to predict anticipated errors, malfunctions, and critical risks whether related to connected computers, machinery, or something else on the premises.

Simplify Communication

Managers use visualization tools to communicate decisions visually to all other team members helping them to better understand any upcoming steps.

Empower Collaboration

Important details can be conveyed with greater clarity using visualization tools, and it allows analysts to work more quickly on any given task.

Data Visualization Techniques

If you're looking to manage and present data that provides a clear understanding of all of the processes and outcomes of your business, it may help to have a few techniques up your sleeve. Here are some strategies to help you ensure that all parties can make the right decisions at the right time for the sake of your business' growth.

Choose an Appropriate Visualization Technique

Humans are visual by nature, so it's important to find opportunities to break up or even replace some of the text in your reports with charts and maps in order to keep your audience engaged and present your data in a more visually friendly way. However, you also want to make sure that you're choosing the best method for displaying your data. For example, line charts are ideal for mapping continuous datasets over a set period of time, but they wouldn't really be suitable for representing a percentage breakdown of your monthly marketing spend. For that, you'd want a pie chart.

Take Advantage of Color Theory

The colors that you use in your charts can truly make or break your data visualization. A carefully selected color palette can help you tap into any pre-attentive processing powers of the human brain in order to make your data more clear and easier to understand. A poorly chosen color palette, on the other hand, can obscure important details you'd like to share and can potentially make your data visualization less effective and harder to use.

Use Ordering, Hierarchy, and Layout to Prioritize

Data at different levels should be placed in a hierarchy and labeled by implementing a suitable visualization system in order to illustrate it effectively. When building your data visualizations, consider the way that you'll be presenting the data and make sure that it follows the flow of your presentation. Consider what information you want to prioritize and place it in a prominent spot that will draw the eye. And finally, ask yourself whether anything can be removed—whenever possible, it's best to be concise.

Utilize Word Clouds and Network Diagrams

Scientists and data analysts can use network diagrams to graphically show an unstructured network point under consideration. Network diagrams visualize how things are interconnected through the use of nodes, or vertices, and link lines to represent their connections. Ultimately, they are used to help illustrate the type of relationships that exist between a group of entities. A word cloud, on the other hand, is a visualization that focuses on keywords and displays the most used words in any given text ranging from small to large, according to how frequently each appears. They're useful in providing you with a glance into the most important keywords used in news articles, social media posts, and customer reviews, among other text.

Use Automated Data Visualization Tools

Automated data visualization tools are helpful because they provide you with an easier method for creating visual representations of large data sets. If you're working with data sets that hundreds, or even thousands or millions, of data points, automating this process can make your job significantly easier.

These tools can be used for a variety of different purposes—everything from managing dashboards and creating annual reports, to producing sales and marketing materials or developing investor slide decks. We'll discuss some popular automated data visualization tools later in this article!

Types of Data Visualization

There is a myriad of different ways you could visualize your data, but the types most commonly used are charts, plots, maps, diagrams, and matrices.

Charts

Charts can be read more easily and quickly than raw data, so they're often used to speed up the absorption of large quantities of data and the relationships that exist between those parts of the data.

analytics data data visualization data science

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