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What Is Information Visualization? | GoodData

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What Is Information Visualization? | GoodData

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What Is Information Visualization?

Information visualization is the usage of visible representations to show info. This definition may sound fashionable, however knowledge visualization has been round for hundreds of years. One of many earliest and most blatant examples is maps, which developed out of the necessity to graphically show geographic knowledge. Since then knowledge visualization has continued to develop to fulfill the wants of at present’s customers.

There are a number of methods to visualise knowledge (together with charts, graphs, and infographics), and know-how is continually evolving to current info in additional eye-catching and helpful methods. Examples of this embody making visualizations interactive and permitting the tip person to filter and show totally different metrics. No matter these updates, the purpose stays the identical: to current key insights and make it simpler to have interaction with and perceive knowledge.

Any dialogue of the that means of knowledge visualization could be incomplete and not using a point out of dashboards. It is very important observe that though knowledge visualization and dashboards are intently associated they don’t seem to be in truth the identical factor. The purpose of a dashboard is to supply an summary of the important thing efficiency indicators (KPIs) of the offered space. Sometimes a dashboard will comprise a number of visualizations, which collectively present an summary of the important thing insights — as proven within the picture beneath.

A dashboard containing four visualizations.
A dashboard containing 4 visualizations.

Why Is Information Visualization Vital?

Information visualization helps to make sure knowledge insights aren’t misplaced in supply; most of us can’t course of large blocks of statistics, our brains aren’t constructed like that. Anybody who has checked out a protracted listing of numbers will perceive the disconnect this will trigger. Graphical illustration solves this ache level by making statistics and knowledge simpler to soak up.

Information visualization isn’t solely about creating easy and engaging visuals. It may be used to create insights by figuring out patterns and developments that may in any other case be tough to identify. Displaying a set of knowledge on a scatter plot, for instance, may reveal connections between outliers that beforehand went unnoticed when the statistics had been in a desk.

Information visualization can be an essential enterprise intelligence (BI) instrument, permitting corporations to successfully talk their knowledge and enhance decision-making. Excessive-quality visualizations can assist a company promote an information tradition as a result of the insights needn’t be defined to non-technical finish customers. Selections will be made with elevated accuracy and velocity as a result of everyone seems to be on the identical web page. In addition to bettering inside processes, visualizations assist to extend exterior engagement by making the information extra accessible to companions and clients.

Kinds of Information Visualization

There are several types of visualizations to select from, and every is healthier suited to showcasing sure attributes and metrics. It is very important use the visualization that makes probably the most sense for the insights you purpose to convey. Under is a quick overview of the visualizations you may select for some typical situations. For extra on this, try our publish on how to decide on the very best chart sort to visualise your knowledge.

  1. There are situations when it’s possible you’ll have to show one key determine, for instance, the variety of clients, or the variety of returned objects. A KPI visualization is finest suited to this objective as a result of it exhibits one large quantity. Nonetheless, this quantity will imply nothing by itself; it’s a must to, on the very least, present a date vary and examine it with one other metric to present it some context.

  2. To point out comparisons between classes, for instance, the variety of gross sales every employees member has made within the final month, it’s best to make use of a bar chart or column chart. A stacked bar chart provides you the choice so as to add one other class, so in addition to displaying what number of gross sales every employees member has made, you may additionally embody the product sort they bought by including colour and a key.

  3. When evaluating elements to the entire it’s best to make use of a pie chart, donut chart, or treemap. An instance of part-to-whole comparability is the quantity of people that answered ‘sure’ or ‘no’ to a particular query. Usually talking, it’s a dangerous concept to make use of a pie chart or donut chart for greater than three classes as a result of it turns into tough for customers to precisely soak up the information. With extra classes, it’s higher to make use of a treemap.

  4. To point out adjustments over time the best choices are line charts, space charts, or column charts. You may, as an illustration, select certainly one of these to show month-by-month income. If you wish to add a further class (resembling product sort) you need to use a line chart with a number of strains or a stacked space chart. However it’s finest to tread rigorously with these as a result of they will turn into complicated if not correctly executed.

  5. To point out the particulars of many objects it’s best to make use of a desk. Some folks keep away from utilizing tables as a result of they appear too primary, however when you have got many objects (resembling a variety of buyer particulars) a desk will be the correct selection. Amid the myriad of visualization choices out there, tables will be fairly placing when mixed with different sorts of charts and graphs on a dashboard.

    Visualization types and how to use them.
    Visualization varieties and easy methods to use them.

What Is Actual-Time Information Visualization?

With real-time knowledge visualization, customers can see the information altering as it’s being up to date or generated. For instance, they may see the peak of bar charts altering, or colours adjusting themselves on a heatmap.

To create this type of visualization, an organization wants the power to carry out real-time knowledge reporting. In different phrases, their knowledge structure should function in real-time to construct up-to-the-minute visuals. This structure consists of elements resembling knowledge processing, knowledge streaming, and all of the logic of the outlined evaluation that results in the displayed insights.

Actual-time analytics and their visualization will be essential below sure circumstances. On different events, this may be pointless and even complicated. Earlier than deciding whether or not to make use of automated real-time visualization, an organization may ask themselves the next questions:

  • Do we actually have to see in-the-moment knowledge to make selections?
  • Do we’ve got sufficient new knowledge at frequent intervals to necessitate real-time updates?
  • Will these on the spot updates make our decision-making processes extra complicated and create delays?
  • Will real-time visualization assist our customers, i.e., what worth will they get from the reside updates?

Primarily based on the above questions, situations the place real-time visualizations could also be helpful embody:

  • Safety and fraud prevention, e.g., when monitoring for main safety breaches.
  • A state of affairs the place an organization must act promptly to a disaster.
  • Aim monitoring (however provided that these objectives are affected by quickly altering info)
  • In monetary groups – the place it’s essential for group members to obtain up-to-the-minute monetary info (for instance, inventory markets).

Below is an instance of real-time visualization in motion:

What Is Interactive Information Visualization?

On the floor, interactive knowledge visualization tends to look just like common (or static) visualization. The distinction is there may be an choice to click on a button or transfer a slider, so the person can work together with the information, fairly than simply take a look at it. This capacity to control charts, graphs, and maps can positively affect person expertise (UX).

Typically interactive options are custom-designed for a particular objective, however typically talking, the most typical interactive options are:

  • Filtering: Permits you to filter for the precise info required, highlighting the related knowledge and decreasing the information that’s at the moment unimportant.
  • Drilling: Lets you transfer between totally different visualizations and ship an motion from the dashboard.
  • Zooming and panning: Creates the chance to hone in on a selected element; you possibly can zoom in on a particular a part of the visualization and pan throughout it.

Interactive options will be extraordinarily helpful, for instance, when customers rapidly have to reply particular queries, which is why they’re typically utilized in BI reviews. Nonetheless, there are additionally instances when a static visualization is perhaps the only option; as an illustration, when visualizations have to be printed and shared as reviews, or when it’s pointless for customers to control the data and all they should do is to have a look at it. For extra on this, try our article that compares interactive and non-interactive visualizations utilizing the instance of world happiness ranges.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Information Visualization

Whereas there are big advantages to visualizing knowledge, if not completed correctly the method can unfold misinformation. Under we take a look at a few of the primary benefits of knowledge visualization and easy methods to mitigate its downsides.

Advantages of knowledge visualization

  • Simple to identify developments. Visualization permits customers to see patterns within the knowledge they may in any other case have missed.
  • Easy sharing of knowledge. It’s far simpler to share knowledge with charts, graphs, and infographics.
  • Makes knowledge accessible to non-technical customers. With visualization, you not have to be a mathematician to know the information insights.
  • Simple to recollect. Charts and graphs aren’t solely simpler to digest; in addition they have a tendency to remain within the reminiscence extra simply than lists of numbers and statistics.
  • Enhance income. When all of the decision-makers have the data at their fingertips, it empowers administration to make fast and correct selections.

Issues with knowledge visualization

  • Data nonetheless must be correct. Nice visualizations [/blog/8-ways-turn-good-data-great-visualizations/] don’t make up for dangerous knowledge. If finest practices aren’t adopted then visualizations can fall into the lure of turning into model over substance.
  • Information visualization is an funding. Corporations that wish to successfully arrange and visualize their knowledge, or present this capacity to their clients, will both want a variety of involvement from analytics engineers (if they’ve the assets)), or an built-in analytics answer. Neither of those choices comes with out its prices, and pricing can range relying on necessities. This then raises the query of whether or not to construct the analytics answer in-house or purchase off the shelf.
  • Correlation doesn’t equal causation. Visualizations typically present the correlation between two or extra metrics, so customers typically assume causation. However simply because there’s a correlation it doesn’t essentially imply that one is attributable to the opposite. There could also be a number of different components at play that aren’t included within the visualization.
  • Customers can nonetheless misread the data. Whereas visualization makes it simpler for customers to soak up knowledge, it’s nonetheless open to misinterpretation. For instance, customers may concentrate on the improper factor when viewing it. This as soon as once more highlights the significance of utilizing the correct visualization sort for the information displayed and the specified consequence.
  • Complicated visualizations. Visualizations are speculated to simplify knowledge, but when completed badly they will make issues much more difficult. Maybe the improper chart sort has been chosen, or there may be an excessive amount of info — as within the image beneath.
An example of a confusing visualization.
An instance of a complicated visualization.

The instruments required to visualise knowledge will rely upon the challenge and the complexities of what you should obtain. In case you’d like to visualise some primary knowledge for a presentation, you need to use Excel to create some easy charts and graphs. In case your knowledge is extra complicated, you’ll have to create the insights first, which can contain knowledge evaluation or knowledge mining. To attain this, you’ll probably have to be taught a programming language like Python. Alternatively, you possibly can put money into a BI answer(s) resembling these listed beneath.

  1. Chart turbines or plugins: These are usually utilized by builders and knowledge engineers as a result of the software program requires a extra superior stage of experience. The plugins have many visualization varieties to select from and there might even be a data-processing API that permits you to create actionable insights out of your knowledge. These instruments normally have the potential to categorize and analyze primary knowledge, and so can be utilized as the inspiration of an organization’s BI platform.
  2. Visualization reporting software program: That is most frequently utilized by report builders and BI engineers. The software program creates enterprise and knowledge evaluation reviews, which may then be become visualizations utilizing a number of built-in charts.
  3. A completely built-in BI and analytics answer: Because the title suggests, that is probably the most full answer. A great BI platform will permit you to simply discover knowledge by yourself, and create interactive dashboards and charts through a user-friendly no-code UI. The highest options provide plug-and-play integrations, no-code instruments, and versatile embedding choices (resembling React, Iframes, and Net Parts) that permit you to seamlessly embed visualizations and dashboards into your product in a approach that matches the model.

To search out out extra about a few of the finest BI options with visualization instruments, try Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, which gives an goal evaluation of the market leaders.

Examples of Information Visualization

Information visualization has turn into so omnipresent that we use it each day with out even noticing. Climate maps, bus schedules, pc audio ranges, and health trackers – all make use of visualizations to offer info in a extra palatable approach.

The above are simply a few of the methods corporations use customer-facing visualizations to enhance UX. However in addition they name upon knowledge visualization to make inside selections, for instance, when easy methods to enhance the provision chain, checking product gross sales throughout totally different international locations, or how a particular advertising and marketing marketing campaign or challenge is performing. Information visualization can be helpful to get a greater sense of exterior components which may influence the corporate, such because the financial local weather.

Information visualization use instances throughout totally different industries

Information visualization is used throughout all industries, from banking to healthcare. Under we take a look at how it may be used to enhance processes in 4 totally different sectors.

  • Software program as a service (SAAS): Information is the beating coronary heart of most software program corporations, and lots of of those embed analytics into their purposes. They will then share the information with their clients by means of visualizations in a user-friendly approach. A great instance of that is Zendesk, whose software program is all about bettering the connection between a enterprise and its clients. Utilizing superior analytics and visualization instruments, Zendesk provides their clients speedy entry to the insights they want, which in flip quickens response instances and will increase satisfaction among the many purchasers of their clients.
  • E-commerce: Information visualization helps manufacturers and suppliers streamline their logistics and provide chains and optimize their operations. An e-commerce platform may use visualization to each enhance the patron expertise and optimize model efficiency. They might, for instance, use their knowledge to get a greater understanding of how buyers are utilizing their website, serving to them to raised goal clients and develop their enterprise. Visualization is critical to share these buyer insights each internally and externally.
  • Monetary providers: Monetary corporations leverage knowledge and analytics to fulfill compliance necessities, handle danger, enhance effectivity, and develop their enterprise. Time is cash, so the faster they will make insights out there to their staff and companions, the higher. Visualization may also be used to assist mitigate danger in real-time, and create extremely customized experiences for patrons inside monetary service merchandise.
  • Insurance coverage: Insurance coverage corporations depend on analysts to create impactful insights. These insights are then shared throughout the enterprise with folks resembling adjusters, underwriters, and entrepreneurs. Information visualization is essential for insurance coverage corporations because it permits them to current clear insights, enhance velocity, and cut back inaccuracy.

Information Visualization Greatest Practices

With the correct analytics platform, it’s simple to create insights out of your knowledge and fantastically visualize them on dashboards. So why do some visualizations fail to attain what they got down to do? The easy reply is that you should be intentional in regards to the info you wish to convey. Good knowledge visualization requires considerate human design. To that finish, it may be helpful to ask your self the next questions to make sure finest observe.

  1. What story am I making an attempt to inform?

Visualization is a type of storytelling, solely you’re utilizing visuals as an alternative of phrases. It’s good to discover a clear technique to inform the story to make sure it has the best influence. Information metrics and attributes should be related to the story that you’re making an attempt to inform. In case you’re permitting customers to filter, take into account rigorously how it will permit them to create their very own tales from one supply of reality.

  1. Have I designed the visualization for the viewer’s eye?

When you’re clear on who the visualization is designed for and what you need them to take from it, you possibly can concentrate on UX. Massive-picture readability is essential, however it’s essential to not neglect the small print both. For instance, what do the colours you’re utilizing imply? Pink normally implies hazard, inexperienced is taken into account extra constructive. Are you able to customise the visualization to suit the model? What about shortening numbers to make them simpler to learn (e.g., utilizing Okay, M, B for hundreds, thousands and thousands, billions)?

  1. Am I making an attempt to show an excessive amount of knowledge?

In terms of knowledge visualization, much less is extra. Though it’s tempting to current as many insights as doable, there’s a positive line to be walked between insightful and overwhelming.

  1. Have I offered context?

With out a purpose or a benchmark, customers might miss the important thing insights. It is very important standardize benchmarks in order that comparisons aren’t being made between two various things – which may result in deceptive takeaways.

The above are simply a few of the questions you may take into account when creating visualizations. For a deeper dive, try our article on visualization finest practices.

Prepared To Get Began With Information Visualization?

For some first-hand expertise with knowledge visualization, join a free GoodData trial. Our analytics platform permits you to absolutely combine real-time custom-made dashboards into your app or product.

Uncover Extra About Information Visualization

To be taught extra about knowledge visualization and the way it can assist your enterprise, you may like to take a look at a few of our different assets:

Interactive vs. non-interactive knowledge visualizations

7 methods to create nice knowledge visualizations

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