This article is the “D” 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 basics of Data Visualization Software:

Data Visualization Software

There are a variety of data visualization software packages available, but before investing, it’s important that you ensure that the product can successfully accomplish all of your needs. The software of your choice must have two crucial components:

  1. Easy to use dashboards
  2. Flexibility of design.

SAP Lumira is a data visualization software that provides tools to delve into the depths of single or multiple data sources and produce the results that you want.

Here is an example of the “Visualize” screen of the software:

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Donut Charts

Donut charts (like pie charts) have to include all of the elements so that they total up to 100%. The warnings that are relayed for pie charts are the same for donut charts. This is why it’s recommended that you have fewer than seven sections or categories. Each donut chart section should be clearly labeled and easy to read as angles are often difficult to judge.

It is important to note that different sections can be rough to compare in a donut chart, it is best to compare the individual slice with the whole rather than the slices with each other. Here is an example: 

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Freelance Graphic Designer

When you are looking for a freelance graphic designer to craft your infographics and/or data visualizations, you will want to ask a number of questions. It’s best to review his/her portfolio to see if they have accomplished these types of projects in the past. Ensure that the freelance graphic designer comprehends the primary role and purpose of the infographic. You will want to bring someone onboard that is not only fantastic with graphic design but understands the need to communicate and avoid the pitfall of trying to ‘make it look cool’ (although a good graphic designer may be able to do both).
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Graphic Design

Graphic designers are being relied upon to bring the data visualization story to life. Whether you are creating for external, internal or both B2B and B2C branding, the importance of the visual can increase interest and attract attention. When done well, the design will tell the story and transform a static information into a visual that’s full of life.

There are four critical steps for the success of data visualization:

  1. It’s pretty simple but first make sure that you have a good idea. It’s recommended to thoroughly think the concepts of the graphic design though prior to beginning. Run the ideas by others, including professionals as well as potential target audiences to properly vet the message. Make use of quality data journalists and researchers to glean the specifics and paint an accurate picture.  
  2. Use high quality research and data for support. In a majority of cases, data visualization (including infographics) is being used to transform information into images. Examine who will be viewing the final product and construct the visuals so that they tell the most compelling story to the target audience.
  3. Make sure that you know ‘storytelling is everything’. Weave the numbers in a way that your audience will easily understand the message that you are saying.
  4. If you don’t have a quality graphic designer in –house, invest in a top freelance graphic designer: They must have the ability to understand your direction in presenting the facts as well as offer creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.

Picture1Heat Maps

A heat map is a visualization in two-dimensions where the colors are the data values. Although heat maps have been used since the 1950’s, today we have heat maps that have the ability to display more complex data sets, including spatial component data. Heat maps should use color as the primary method to display the relationships in the numbers. Here is an example of a heat map about U.S. Forest Fires:

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