Chances are, you encounter data visualization on a daily basis without realizing what it is or how it is being used. Essentially, data visualization is a tool used to present data in a graphic form. The human brain takes in visual information faster and more easily than text, so data visualization can be an invaluable communication tool.
Representing data in visual form is a great way to simplify complex idea and distill massive amounts of information into digestible bites. A well-designed infographic also speaks to a modern audience who lives in a digital world and is used to absorbing content that combines words and images. Most people don’t want to take the time to read through a lengthy article, but they will view and share a compelling infographic. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a design expert to create a beautiful and informative infographic. By following these basic data visualization principles and taking advantage of free and affordable design tools, you can take full advantage of the power of infographics.
This term refers to simple headlines and prominently placed numbers that highlight a certain point. There is nothing fancy about this technique, but when done well, it will grab the reader’s attention and keep them interested in putting that number into a larger context.
An indicator is perfect for when you need to display a single-value piece of data and there is no need for comparison. For example, you can lead with an impressive statistic as the headline and explain the meaning in smaller text below. Choose numbers that support the overall point or argument of your infographic and choose fonts and colors that align with your branding. While this approach is simple, it still provides a compelling tool.
Pie charts are perfect for visually representing percentage or parts of a whole. If you want to show what portion of the budget is going to which department, a pie chart is the perfect solution. Another example would be to use a pie chart to compare what share of the market different popular running shoe brands are winning. Instead of simply listing numbers, you can provide a more meaningful visual.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to include more than six categories with each chart. Otherwise, you risk creating a crowded and confusing visual that actually takes away from the point you are trying to make. Also, use complimentary yet contrasting colors within the same scheme for a more appealing final product.
The line chart is another classic data visualization tool that has not gone out of style. They are especially useful in showing trends over time. Dots are placed at specific times and connected with a line to more clearly highlight changes. You can compare how different products have performed over the past year and see exactly when major shifts occurred.
For example, let’s say that you want to see how well a product has sold. The vertical axis will represent the number of units and the horizontal axis will map out the year by month. By plotting the units sold during each month, you can achieve data visualization that provides a more comprehensive view of performance and conveys important information at a glance.
Bar charts provide another simple and effective data visualization tool that can be easily incorporated into infographics. This type of chart is best for comparing different amounts. The length of the bar corresponds with a certain value within a range. You can also used stacked bar charts to compare different values and parts of a whole within the same visual.
This type of chart could be used to show how compare “how many people” industry growth, such as how many new nurses have entered the field over a certain time period. With this approach, all it takes is a quick glimpse to see which bar is longer and infer meaning from the contrasting bars. You can use different colors or arrange the bars vertically or horizontally based on your own preferences and what makes the most design sense.
A pictogram provides another creative way to represent parts of a whole. Instead using bars or slices of a pie, you can include images that are relevant to your topic and use them to indicate a certain portion. For example, it you care comparing the population of different countries, instead of listing numbers or providing a bar graph, you can use symbols of humans. You can even designate male and female with corresponding symbols. Using a pictogram can add a little more personality to your data visualization.
Clearly define the purpose of your infographic. That means understanding your audience and deciding what message you want to send.
Collect relevant data from reputable sources. Your infographic should be trustworthy and informative, which means you need to take the time to conduct thorough research and see what the data shows. Don’t make the mistake of trying to fit data to your idea. Take advantage of .gov and .edu sites and refine your results by using Google Scholar and filtering your results so that you are using information from the past year and not outdated studies.
Choose the best chart for your data. Are you comparing different parts of a whole? Then a pie chart will work best. Do you need to show how sales of other numbers have changed over time? If so, a line chart will be your best bet. Use the examples listed above to determine the best chart.
Find the right template for your infographic. With tools like Spark Post, you can choose from a wide variety of customizable templates to help create a professional looking infographic. You don’t have to start from scratch or be a design expert.
Finalize your design choices. Once you have put together your data, chosen a template from Adobe Spark Post and created stunning data visualizations, it is time to put the final touches on your infographic. Be sure to use fonts and colors that match the style of your website, logo and other marketing materials. This will help build your brand.
While there are plenty of other ways to visualize complex data and represent it in infographics, the charts mentioned above represent the simplest and most effective tools. Once you have mastered these charts, you may feel comfortable moving onto more sophisticated methods.
The good news is that no matter your design skills, with our Adobe Spark Post, you will be able to transform data into visuals and compelling infographics. With our professional and user-friendly templates, anyone can collect data turn it into beautiful visuals.