This week, the theme of data presentation has struck me again. Have you seen the effort some are putting into their data visualisations or infographics?
It’s a real encouragement to see how much more focus this need is receiving. Only a few years ago it seemed all the focus was on the volume of data & breadth of algorithms supported by the
Perhaps one of the spinoff benefits from the ‘Big Data‘ and ‘Data Science‘ fad has been this greater focus on improved visualisation.
Effective basic Data Visualisations
One of the first examples to strike me this week is by no means beautiful, but it is effective. Recently, especially with the spread of R coding skills, interactive graphics have become more popular. Given the evidence as to the effectiveness of gamification, it makes sense to let your information consumers ‘play’ with your graphs.
Here is a deceptively simple example that shows how a little coding can transform an apparently dull bar chart into an interactive graphic that encourages exploration:
Data Visualisation Winners
Another timely contribution this week was the announcement of the winners in Kantar’s “Information is Beautiful” awards. As well as some eye-catching and inspirational submissions for this award, the categories themselves are interesting. They reveal something of the way data visualisation & information presentation have blossomed as specialisms, giving birth to a host of types of communication. Here are the winners in those categories I found most helpful:
Data Visualisation = Wall Street Journal (who have had numerous strong examples in recent years):
Infographic = @markiaaan (for his bachelor thesis!)
Interactive = The Washington Post (demonstrating again the power of simple graphics made interactive)
Motion Infographic = @neilhalloran (given the growth of video on social media, expect to see more infographic movies in future)
Data Journalism = Zeit Online (a category that matters if you notice how often our news is communicated in such graphics)
Mini and Mobile Visualisation = Eleanor Lutz (with most people browsing on mobile devices most of the time, animated GIFs are a good media)
Free Data Viz tool = @mbostock (it has been so encouraging in recent years to see the explosion of free tools for this discipline)
If businesses teams are to actually produce better data presentation themselves, they need more than software & example websites though. As ever, it comes down to people & investment in their training. Ideally, insight leaders would like to be able to recruit from a pool of talent with the analytics & presentation skills needed.
So, the obvious place to start is for students to learn this at college. Encouragingly, just last week, I was approached by a group of students at Ohio University. Within a start-up called #ImproveEDU, they have been learning the skills to produce resources like this infographic:
Students learn Data Visualisation
Speaking as someone with the experience of interviewing over a hundred graduates over the years and still marking hundreds of IDM student papers, the above is rare. I still see too many marketing & analytics students with poor aesthetic or visual communication skills. If universities would embrace training their students to produce information presentations like the above, they would graduate much better prepared for today’s job market.
As another contribution on this topic though, I must just share with you the Student category Gold Award winner from Sara Piccolomini. Imagine hiring a graduate who is capable of producing a visualisation like this:
Over to you – how are your Data Visualisations?
So, what about you? Do you have any great internal data visualisations that you would be happy to share? Have you managed to hire graduates with great visualisation tools? As ever, do let us know, we love to share the love of visual data.