Sunday, August 18, 2013

Eleven Visualization Tips

A chart should be a story in itself.

Many people develop dashboards/interactive visualizations without having a clear picture of a story or set of stories within the data. A chart should be a story in itself. If you cannot glean the story without the need for further explanation (including extensive labeling), and then the chart is not fulfilling its purpose. Or perhaps you are trying to tell the wrong story! What are more visualization tips:

1. Tell a story --yes, the picture is worth a thousand words; as basic as A B C is brief, but often forgotten; having a story in mind for either static or dynamic visualization is critical to success.

2. Orient text horizontally-- that's easier to read.

3. Avoid pies—they are visually confusing sometimes, as humans do not process comparative circles or curve visuals easily. How about putting them on maps-If pies are confusing, putting them on a map does not make them non-confusing

4. Use multiple views--Maybe, but thinking of the best view is likely to be less confusing.

5. Bullets beat gages--gages are cute but are just pies in disguise. However, the gages chart shown is not a "bullet" chart, it is a bar chart

6. Increase effectiveness with color--no, the industry study showed that comparing colors is the least reliable way to convey relative magnitude.

7. Not too many colors--this would be fine, except that point 6 is not supported.

8. Labels make it clear--yes, and they are better than legends.

9. Make it interactive--yes if the picture is dynamic.

10. No ornamentation necessary-- making it simple but also visually compelling.

11. Target the audience - A crucial factor is for whom you are creating a graph (newspaper, experts, presentation ...), understanding the psychology of sight is essential for this work.


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