Data is crucial for storytelling in today’s digital society. But with datasets getting larger, more complex and emerging from a growing number of sources, data visualisation can feel like a mystic art which takes years of mastery.
Making data immediately comprehensible can break complex stories down into smaller, bite-sized chunks, bridging the gulf between numbers and words for your audience. Getting it right can be the catalyst which drives extensive media coverage, increased brand awareness and improved conversions.
Here are our top data visualisation tips for success:
Select the right charts and graphics
The first step of effective visualisation is selecting the right graphics and charts. While there’s no one size fits all approach, think clearly about what you’re trying to display. For instance, trends over time are frequently displayed in bar graphs, while maps can be an easy aid to geographical distribution. Always link it back to the audience you’re aiming to influence too; sales and marketing teams are likely to want to see long term trends. Politicans and policy makers, on the other hand, may be influenced by geographical distributions.
Exercise restraint when choosing data
It’s all too tempting to pack your visuals with lots of interesting data. But just because you have it, doesn’t mean you should necessarily use it. Each visual should have one clear takeaway that is not only obvious to your audience, but simple enough for them to retain the information.
Add a splash of colour to your data
Using colour – and selecting a logical palette – is essential for getting the message to land. Keep the number of colours low to tell a clear story and make sure they are associated with your brand. Bold colours should be used for key points, with more subtle tones being used for background information.
Keep your data visualisation simple…
Data visualisation experts are unanimous in agreement that 3D visuals can be confusing, depleting the readers ability to glean information from the graphic. Even superfluous elements such as borders, shading, dark grid lines and excessive labelling can detract from the overall story. Don’t oversimplify or dumb things down too much, but try to remain direct and give your statistics the space to shine.
… But do consider animation
Whitepapers and reports can get lengthy and attention can wane – that’s a fact. Use subtle animation to draw the eye of your audience to your most interesting datapoints and key takeaways. Doing so will also aid information retention, even deep down on page 20. Keep the tone, audience and story in mind, and use them sparingly to prevent the web page from taking too long to load.
If you need help bringing your data to life? Get in touch with Director and Missive Studio lead, Hannah Devoy.
Want to know more about Missive Studio – our creative, content and data services? Read how Missive Studio can support your business with content marketing and creative services.