Compromise is something of a dirty word at times. We like to consider ourselves as ‘uncompromising’, as people who deliver the best results time and time again, in life and business. And yes, these are positive attributes to aim for.
But compromise is necessary, particularly when it comes to data visualization. Without compromise, we end up with bloated, self-indulgent visualization projects which never get off the ground, we end up with muddled and confused messaging which benefit no one, and our poor old budgets? Blown apart.
With this in mind, here are five ways by which you can go on creating great visuals without breaking the bank.
Labor Saving with the Right Tools
Anything which you can use to reduce the labor involved with producing great visuals is worth looking into. The primary costs associated with data visualization are the those of expensive Data as a Service subscriptions, of SaaS visualization tool subscriptions, and the working hours used in crafting the visual.
Fortunately, there are all manner of tools which can help you bypass these expensive pitfalls. There has been much debate around the best tools for visualizers on a budget, and this is really only scratching the surface. Take a look around and see what you can find.
Remember, your primary aim is to deliver insight to your content user. Put together a handy ‘data toolbox’ which can facilitate this in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner.
Looking Inwards for Data
We can’t create great visuals without great data, and this sort of vital resource often comes with a rather hefty price tag. However, need this always be the case? After all, we are dealing with customers and clients every single day, operating in the market and gaining data of our own.
In fact, organizations of any size may be surprised to discover just how much data they are sitting on. Instead of siphoning off this data and applying it within their own companies, business owners instead go to data consultancy firms or other agencies, hoping to get their hands on the very best facts and figures for use in their visualizations.
The problem is, just being able to access data is not quite enough. Sunlight might fall on the roof of our home every day, but without solar panels, it isn’t going to produce electricity. The fact is, we need to be able to wield data efficiently and effectively, or else it becomes useless.
But this is not so difficult as it first appears. By implementing ERP or CMS systems within your business, you become equipped with a ready-made tool, which can be used to collect and collate data and to report on it further down the line. This acts as a convenient method of tapping the rich seams of data already at your disposal.
Staying on Message
It is important to step outside of the visualizing process at times, and really take stock of the insight we are aiming to deliver. The trouble is – and we have seen this happen time and time again – that there is sometimes a tendency to over-egg the pudding, so to speak.
You introduce one or two data sets to your visualization, but you want to add more. You have crafted a smart and sleek visual, but you want to turn the graphics dial up to 11 and really blow some minds from an aesthetic point of view. You really just don’t know when to stop.
All of this is fine, but it can be expensive. What’s more – if you lose sight of your core message entirely – you and your team might have to start the whole thing over, ramping up the cost even more.
It is not always a dose of visualization-mania that sends projects way off topic and costs spiralling out of control; sometimes content teams just stray from the path.
This is easily done. Content marketing – and other fields which require great visuals – is a high pressure market; output needs to be delivered speedily and to a high standard of quality. In this kind of environment, communication sometimes breaks down, or certain vital steps get skipped.
There is a simple way to avoid this: plan, plan, then plan again. Your visualization should form part of a wider content strategy – it should represent a piece of a much larger puzzle – and, as such, no moves should be made by accident; every action should be the result of a concerted effort.
Approach your visualization in this way, and you will find that everyone is on the same page and is working together. The boosted efficiency that this brings with it is a major cost reducer in itself, but the cohesion of a team like this has an even wider benefit.
What is your aim when producing visuals? Merely to represent the data adequately or to totally knock it out of the park? Securing a strong ROI is not simply about reducing costs, it is about ensuring the efficacy of what you are creating. Planning and robust strategizing make this happen.
Finally, you need to know what you are aiming for. This will be the signal which lets you know whether the project was a job well done or a flat out failure; a detail which is pretty useful to know for next time!
Define your parameters for success during your initial planning sessions. This enables you and your team to trim the fat, honing the project into a lean, mean, goal-achieving machine.
If your objective is virality across social media; do some research into viral posts in your field and gauge what the public want. If your aim is a direct increase in conversions; optimize your visualization and the content you use to frame it to ensure that this happens. If you are targeting something else, make sure that your project reflects this.
It is time to whip your data visualization processes into shape, reducing costs and ensuring a seriously impressive return on investment.
Image Source: The World Atlas of Language Structures team