Importance Of Data Visualization And Its Types

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Introduction

The global market for data visualization in 2017 was 4.51 billion USD. It’s expected to be 7.76 billion USD in 2023.

Data in its raw form can be tricky to digest and analyze for common people. You can’t present a long excel sheet in a presentation and expect your stakeholders to be interested in it. What to do then? Here comes the data visualization.

Graphics are a complete form of communication. In this day and age, people’s attention span is shrinking. Graphics and visuals are the best way to present your data and communicate with your stakeholders. Let’s look at the importance of data visualization in detail.

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Importance Of Data Visualization And Its Types
Importance Of Data Visualization And Its Types

What is data visualization?

Data visualization is the process of presenting raw data that’s in the form of huge charts, sheets, and papers full of text into simple graphics and visuals. This makes it more understandable and easier to analyze.

Examples: Bar charts, pie charts, graphs, and infographics are the most common data visualization examples that we’re seeing in our day-to-day life.

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Types of data visualization techniques:

Let’s have a quick look at some of the most commonly used data visualization techniques.

1.   Graphs:

Graphs are the best way to show changes in one variable with respect to the other. For example, you can create a graph of changes in the number of sales in a year or changes in the market prices of a product with inflation.

Following are some types of graphs that are commonly used.

Bar charts:

They’re best for presenting the difference between multiple variables and comparing them.

Data visualization type: Bar charts

Line graphs:

Line graphs are also called line charts. This visualization technique is best for finding trends and patterns. It shows you the continuous change in a variable over a certain period of time. You can add a single variable or multiple as well.

Bubble graphs:

Bubble graphs are great to showcase several variables together without making the graphic complicated. They can show you the relation between the multiple variables and help you compare them.

Pie charts:

Pie charts serve the same purpose as bar charts but they’re only good if the difference between the variables is large. If there’s an extremely small difference between the variables pie charts are not good for that. In such cases, bar charts work better.

2.   Charts:

Charts are a pretty common technique for visualizing data. Let’s see the 2 most common chart types.

Pyramid charts:

Pyramid charts show you the hierarchy among multiple variables. These variables are usually interrelated. For example, you can design a pyramid chart of revenue, expenses, and profit.

Stacked area charts:

They’re similar to line charts but mostly have 2 to 3 variables. If you want to present more than 2 or 3 variables then stacked area charts aren’t good for that. More Variables will make the chart complex.

3.   Infographics:

Infographics have comparatively more text than other data visualization techniques. However, The text is still minimal and it’s easy to read and follow than a paragraph or excel sheet.

Infographics can be of various types. Some common ones are listed below.

  • Comparison infographics
  • Timeline infographics
  • Flowchart infographics
  • Listicle infographics
  • Mind maps
  • How to infographics

4.   Maps:

Maps are used for presenting geographical data. For example, you can have a map to showcase the geographical categorization of your customers, or the areas of the world that are most affected by climate change.

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Importance of data visualization:

Let’s have a look at why data visualization is important and what benefits you can get from it.

1.   It makes raw data understandable:

According to Tableau, 48% of the managers of organizations which use data visualization can find the required data without any IT support.

The biggest purpose and benefit of data visualization is increasing understandability. You’re an analyst, you can look at the raw data and work with it but the people you’re working with won’t be able to understand that. Think of it from a common man’s perspective, what will be easier to understand between a bar chat and an excel sheet?

Visualizing data decreases or almost eliminates the complexity. All the people of the organization are then able to get the point you’re trying to make.

2.   Helps in making quick decisions and analysis:

Visualization of data helps in making quick decisions. How? When the company is able to understand what data is telling them they can make instant decisions according to it.

Data visualization actually makes problem identification easy. It instantly shows you the main point and the conclusion of all the collected data. When you know the problem only then you can take action to solve it. Hence data visualization helps in making quick decisions.

A study also shows that when visuals are used in a presentation 64% of the audience is able to make instant decisions.

3.   It makes communication easy:

Imagine presenting a wide and long excel sheet to your audience and spending minutes or hours making them understand a simple analysis. Your audience will definitely find it difficult to get it and they’ll eventually lose interest in what you’re saying. This creates a big communication gap. 

Now imagine presenting the same data but this time you’ve converted it into an infographic or a pie chart. The point will be clear to your audience within minutes and they’ll be interested in listening to you. This makes data sharing easy. You don’t have to explain it to everyone you’re sending it to. The visualization makes it self-explanatory.

4.   Saves time and effort:

According to this one study visuals and graphics shorten business meetings by approximately 24%.

Data visualization saves both analysts’ and stakeholders’ time and effort. It allows the stakeholder to understand the data in one sight that would have taken minutes or hours to comprehend. If you’re an analyst then it saves the energy and time that you would spend explaining the raw data to your clients.

5.   Helps to see patterns and trends

Visualization lets you see patterns and trends that would otherwise be hidden in raw format. For example, in a graph showing your sales throughout the day, you can see at what time you’re getting the most sales. It won’t be easy to spot that in an excel sheet.

6.   Shows areas of improvement

Visualizing your data can show you the gaps and areas of improvement as well.

Let’s take an example. You have a line graph showing you progression of your repeating customers. Suddenly you start noticing a decline in that graph. This is a clear indication that something’s wrong and needs improvement. You can see the reviews of your customers or you can directly contact them as well to know the reason.

7.   Positively impact the entire business:

Data visualization saves you time and effort. It helps you make the right decisions at the right time and eliminates the complexity associated with data. All these things can positively impact the business resulting in better sales and revenue.

Top 5 data visualization software:

Here is a list of the top 5 data visualization software. They’re easy to use and can incorporate a large amount of data.

  1. Tableau
  2. Google charts
  3. Grafana
  4. FusionCharts
  5. Datawrapper

Frequently asked questions:

1.   Where is data visualization used?

Data visualization can be used in any field where you’re dealing with data. It can be used in business, healthcare, marketing, branding, education and surveys.

2.   How to visualize your data?

There are many software and tools available that let you visualize your data. You can create simple visuals through excel but for complex visualization techniques, you’ll need data visualization tools like Tableau.

3.   Is Excel a data visualization tool?

Excel is a spreadsheet tool. Its primary function isn’t data visualization. You can’t create complex visuals with it however, it allows you to create simple visualizations like pie charts, line graphs and radar charts. The following image shows you all the visualization types you can create with excel.

4.   What is the best data visualization technique?

The answer to this question is subjective to the data that you want to visualize. No one technique is the best for all data types. It highly depends on the data that you have.

Let’s take an example. If you’re showing the progression of the global population over the last 10 years, the best technique for you is line charts. However, if your data is related to geography then maps are the best option for you.

In a nutshell:

Data visualization is presenting the data in graphical form to make it easy to understand and draw conclusions from it. There are many types of data visualization techniques like charts, graphs, and maps.

Visualizing the data is important as it makes communication and data sharing easy. It has a positive impact on the overall business. The 7 points that we discussed in the importance of data are listed below.

  1. Makes raw data understandable
  2. Helps in making quick decisions and analysis
  3. Helps to see patterns and trends
  4. Makes communication easy
  5. Shows areas of improvement
  6. It saves time and effort
  7. Positively impact the entire business

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Published by Rahul Bhattacharya

Rahul is a journalist with expertise in researching a variety of topics and writing engaging contents. He is also a data analyst and an expert in visualizing business scenarios using data science. Rahul is skilled in a number of programming languages and data analysis tools. When he is not busy writing, Rahul can be found somewhere in the Appalachian trails or in an ethnic restaurant in Chicago.

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