This year is far from over but already we are looking forward into 2017. Why is this? Well, it pays to stay ahead of the game, and to be prepared for what is around the corner.

With this in mind, here are six data visualization trends to expect in 2017. We are operating in an evolving field which shows no sign of staying still and static. So, buckle up, it’s going to be an exciting year!

The Rise of the Visualization Package

Running a business requires a complex set of skills and capabilities. Unless you are one of the lucky ones who is a Jack/Jane of all trades and master of all (which is almost no one), you are going to need to delegate tasks here and there, to outsource and to manage your resources in a savvy manner.

This is why the software as a service (SaaS) market has really started to heat up in recent years. Business owners are looking for robust, simple solutions to problems, and the answer – very often – comes in the form a piece of software or a managed system. Data visualization is no exception.

Expect to see more of these data visualization SaaS products appearing on the market as we enter 2017. More and more business owners are tuning into the power of data visualization, but still lack the skills required to excel in this field. For these people, this sort of SaaS product is ideal, as it unlocks a world of benefits with only minimal training required.

Keeping It Moving

Visuals are evolving along with the technology. As a result, we are seeing powerful shifts towards animation and interactivity in data visualization. While once upon a time, a sharp, well-produced infographic was the pinnacle of successful visualization, modern visualizers have a wealth of tools, technologies and techniques at their disposal, all of which can be deployed within their work.

This has led to an explosion in interactive visuals and in animated visuals which add an extra element to the data content. This explosion is showing no sign of slowing down, and we can expect the persuasive power of moving images to be a major trend as we move into 2017.

Of course, this does not signal the death knell for 2D imagery; it simply represents another option available to data visualizers. Traditional 2D infographics will always have their place, but now they are being joined by 3D images, interactive images, and moving pictures.

Narrative Focus

The idea of a data visual as telling a story is really beginning to gather strength. No longer is it enough to simply pick out data from a set; visualizers now need to be narrators, identifying insight and bringing that insight to the forefront.

We now need a good beginning, a solid middle and a strong end for our narrative. We need a progression along which the content user or viewer can travel and learn more about the specifics of the data in the process. We are using data like the characters in a story, and creating a visualization to highlight this.

This concept will continue to grow in power as we step towards 2017 and beyond. The modern data visualizer is now a story teller, giving their content users an enthralling narrative to lose themselves in. Get ahead of the game and take your readers on a journey.

Increasingly Complex Data Sources

A data visualization is only as good as the data which is fed into it. Fortunately, modern technology affords us an almost unlimited array of data collection methods, putting us into contact with increasingly sophisticated data points and configurations.

What this means for visualization is a heck of a lot more insight, as visualizers find themselves able to draw upon increasingly complex data sources. This insight is, in turn, passed on to the content users, making the visualization a much better value for all concerned.

However, it also means that – as content producers and data visualizers – we need to remain on our toes. With each project, we need to analyze the potential data sources and make certain that we are selecting the best sources and the best angle to achieve our aims. If we are not doing that, we can be certain that our competitors are!

Keep It Tidy

Tastes change over the years, but one thing that remains constant is that humans are drawn to neatness. That’s right; if given the choice between a mess of lines, shapes and diagrams which criss-cross one another, and a crisp, neat, tidy representation of the data, humans are more likely to opt for the latter.

This is nothing new, but in the world of data visualization, this rule has not always been adhered to. Visualizers have a habit of going a little overboard with their designs, filling up the space and creating true works of art.

Expect to see less of this. Instead, expect pared down visuals, delivering their insight in a cool, calm and collected manner. As we move towards 2017, the fashion looks to be shifting away from the ‘busier’ designs, in favor of minimalism and a smarter, cleaner, tidier effect.

Fear of Scale Is Over

There are rules when it comes to data visualization, but rules are made to be broken. One of the rules we’ve seen broken again and again recently relates to scale and the presentation of data within a set spatial field.

In Data Visualization 101 they teach us to be afraid of scale, and to cut our visualizations down to make them easy to manage and view all at once. Great… except it doesn’t always work like that. Some of the best visualizations of the last year have included vast infographics which do not shy away from exhibiting scale and size in all its glory.

Data visualizers no longer need to feel bound by such restrictions. Instead, they are free to explore the worlds of data and insight in the way they want to. If that involves breaking a couple of rules every now and again, well so be it.

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