Visualisation sells the value of data

I’ve referenced ColeNussbaumer here on a couple of previous occasions and this month I’d like to start with a reflection on some of her more recent words on storytelling with data using visualisation. She had been surprised by someone pointing out to her that a presentation she was giving on visualisation techniques was tantamount to selling the value of the data she had. As consultants, working with large amounts of data, we also find that the best way to demonstrate to our clients how valuable it is to them to have good, structured data available is to present insights on their businesses by presenting visual representations of the data that they have. Data visualisation is a crucial tool in our analytics tool-kit, proving the merit of all the data gathering, structuring, exploring and evidencing which precedes it.

Varying the chart type

Data visualisations come in many shapes and forms and data visualiser Ann K. Emery has created a web-site which demonstrates a variety of chart-types. It allows the interested user to create filters based on what type of data they have, or what kind of style they’d like to use in order to choose the most appropriate. This month she also made an interesting blog-post on alternatives to the standard clustered bar chart. Whatever your data, exploring with different options like this can help you to get better insights and also to find the perfect way to tell your story.

Cartogram visualisations

This month I’ve seen a few inspiringly original uses of maps to present data. The first I’d like to share relates to the UK election data and is a summary of different ways of representing the election wards across the UK, relative to their position in the UK and the number of people registered to vote in each.

The next is a selection of grid views of the United States, pulled together by Nathan Yau of Flowing Data. Like the UK charts, many of these standardise the size of each of the states, giving them equal weighting. I especially like some of the creative views that have been created, like the below one – shades of Escher.

And finally …

From a Danish website on future technology trends, a fascinating story which I can’t imagine any better way of telling: