Key Data Visualization Principles

Data Visualization is a very important concept for individuals and businesses alike. Learning the proper techniques and principles can allow your audience to not only understand the point you are trying the make, but also allowing them to more easily reach conclusions of their own and apply what they have learned.

The reason data is often presented to an audience in the form of visuals such as charts, tables and graphs is because it make it much easier for the audience to understand and digest the data. For this reason, a good visual will simplify the data as much as possible for the audience without taking out any key pieces of information.

Additionally, visuals are often used to compare data such as sales figures from one period to the next. Accordingly, the data should be displayed in a way as to draw the attention of the audience to where that difference in data lies. Often a chart such as a bar chart, clearly attends to these differences making easily understandable.

Furthermore, good data visuals will allow the audience to draw their own conclusions while looking at the data in a way that they have not before, allowing them to learn something new from the data presented. Therefore the presentation is vital as to not make the audience strain to understand the data, but rather allow them to focus on the conclusions and implications of what information the data is relaying.

There are specific techniques for attending to certain attention biases in the brain that allow a visual to focus the audience’s attention to the main take-aways of the visual. Using color to pop out the most important parts of the visual, while fading the secondary details into the background with a lighter shade is a common and very effective visualization practice.

However if the goal of presenting your visual to the audience is to present them with your take- away from the data, and what you hope for them to see from it, then you should start by summarizing the data and presenting the conclusion that you hope the audience to reach in the very beginning, so that the message sticks with the audience.

http://www.tableau.com/blog/stephen-few-data-visualization

http://www.information-management.com/news/news/Eight-Principles-of-Data-Visualization-10023032-1.html

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