This article is the “C” part of a series of tips and formats (in alphabet order) to help you convey your data visualization messages in the best way possible.
Starting with A for “Area Charts” and going all the way through W for “Word Clouds,” the pros and cons of each data visualization format will be explained and illustrated. This article starts with outlining the “Common Chart Types”:
Common Chart Types
In the world of data visualization, the word ‘chart’ can have many meanings. It can organize data in a type of diagram or be a map that contains technical information. All chart types have one thing in common: They are representations of data in a graphical format where the numbers are represented in a form of a symbol: pie slices in a pie chart, bars in a bar chart, or lines in a line chart.
Charts can be an easy method to convert large data into an easier to read format. It can also help you to emphasize the relationships between the information. Viewers have the ability to read the story easier and grasp the variances.
While there are lots of different types of charts, they all share some of the same features. In general, charts place the focus on the graphics and often don’t have much text. The charts that are most familiar can include pie charts (show percentages), bar charts (rectangular bars with proportional lengths) and line charts (connecting data over time periods to demonstrate trends).
There are additional types of charts that are more in-depth and are covered below including: timelines, area charts, treemaps and histograms.
Image from EasyBI.com
A Coxcomb chart is a kind of combination of a pie chart and a bar chart. It’s often referred to as a rose or polar area chart. In lieu of alteration of angles for the data use, the areas of each of the segments are adjusted based on the changing radius of the data. It’s important to change the radius proportionately and not just purely on the data so that each value will be perceived correctly.
Creating Interactive Infographics
Infographics often contain a lot more data than any other type of data visualization. This can be a slippery slope as the viewer can get lost in the images without getting either the story or the impact. The use of interactive infographics can achieve the desired results by allowing the user to click, scroll, mouse-over or swipe on a touch screen as well as tilt or move with a smartphone or remote allowing different views for zoom or pan. Interactive infographics can be powerful, but they require a lot of effort, especially when considering the comparison of multiple datasets.
Creating Motion Graphics
Motion graphics have become incredibly easy to create through the use of some of today’s technology programs. You can incorporate data visualization with text, speech, audio, special effects and even 3D animations with such programs as After Effects and Adobe Flash. Motion graphics breathes life into a presentation that might otherwise be static or boring. There are also a number of web-based tools including instruction videos to let you know how to create them as well as libraries of royalty-free music.
Image credit: NBC Universal – No Food Wasted
Creating Top Explainer Videos
Explainer videos are custom tailored to specific projects. When explainer videos are used in business they should incorporate the mission and vision as a major consideration as well as the product or company as a whole. The four key elements involved in explainer videos include:
- Turning Point
- Solution and
- Call to Action
Each of these will have visual and audio clues that delve beyond the surface, address the points, and tell the story. To keep from falling prey to static or boring, many people make use of creative methods such as animation to enrich and engage the viewer. This transitions the mundane into content that’s witty and clever, while ensuring that the message is heard.
If you are considering creating an explainer video, it is recommended that you work with a professional company. This will help to craft the correct type of video and avoid potential corporate disasters.
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The Basics for Creating Infographics
The single main focus in creating infographics is the attention on the ‘flow’. The data may be the foundation of the idea that you want to convey, but when you are creating the infographic it should be easy to comprehend the methodology as well as the conclusions. To avoid the trap of ‘too much info and too many visuals’, use the five-rule guideline:
- Research the original source information and confirm all data
- Ensure that you are using the most recent or up-to-date data that is available
- Never use source information from user-generated content sites.
- Keep the rule-of-thumb understanding that 99% of the internet is simply a starting point.
- Put a limitation on the number of your sources.
The goal of an infographic is to create an image that allows the viewers to either understand the conclusions that you are drawing in a quick and easy manner or come to the conclusions on their own. You need to transform the numbers in a way that people can easily interpret them.
The design is crucial: It can make or break an infographic. Brainstorm the possibilities for the presentation and ask which will tell the story best: charts, graphs, wireframes as well as colors and typography. Limit the number of colors to those that are complementary as well as few in number and use the graphic design rule to limit to two fonts. Here is a good example of an infographic from Nowsourcing on why you’ll be wearing your next computer:
Featured image credit: Tais