Flying Colors: How to Navigate Data Visualization With Ease

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Business owners and customers alike can relate to the headaches that come from trying to ingest a large amount of data, such as numbers, pictures and statistics, that flash before their eyes every day. We are constantly having information thrown at us via websites, social media, texting and more. Eventually the onslaught of words and numbers and statistics can all run together, which cannot only confuse you as a business owner, but also confuse your customers if they don’t understand the messages you are trying to convey. This is where data visualization comes in.

Though it sounds high tech, data visualization or “dataviz” is simply the visual representation of data. For all of the visual learners and processors out there, data visualization is a godsend. Previously, being able to create and provide visual aids was merely a nice addition to the data itself, but now it is a necessary tool for managers and business owners. The practice of data visualization will always be relevant in business for the sake of clarity between merchants and customers.

In May 2016, Huffington Post sat down with Thomas Powell, CEO of the charting technology company ZingChart, to discuss the ever-growing importance of data visualization. When asked about whether data visualization will affect communication now and in the future, Powell indicated that it’s likely a guarantee.

To some that are ingesting large amounts of data, it is sometimes easier and faster to “recognize a result than read a paragraph.” Powell also suggested that the use of infographics, charts and diagrams are extremely effective for those of this generation who are more inclined to the more gain/less work mindset. “Visualizations explain complex ideas simply,” said Powell. As the research goes, most are in agreement with Powell.

In much of the similar way that we use visual resources like memes and GIFS and emojis to make our points and emotions clear within our regular daily communications, data visualization has the same effect for presenting data in business through charts and visual examples. Data visualization is a very effective tool, but only if used properly. It is easy to get confused about how to utilize this tool, but luckily, a recent piece featured on Huffington Post provides an idea of where to start.

The best way to communicate data via dataviz is to start at the source and break the data itself down into samples and features. Samples are the individual elements in a group, and features are the characteristics that those elements share. Analyzing the differences between the features between those elements are what gives us a clearer picture of the data and what factors will affect sales or contribute to the success of an advertising campaign. From there, the relationship between features can then be best represented through data visualizations like bar graphs or scatter plot charts.

Data visualization is particularly apparent when attempting to analyze a large amount of features simultaneously. For example, if you are looking at all of the elements of an advertising campaign, like social media strategies and budgets for marketing, these are the data features. You can also then look at a sample of different advertising campaigns and compare data features within all of them too. Data visualization then steps in to present the data from the features and samples that you have just observed, and can be used to create visual representations of the full data intake.

The reason that data visualization will always be a relevant and effective tool is people. There will always be people who react and interpret visual representations of data better than they would an analytical view of data. Alternatively, there will always be people who interpret analytical data better and possess the ability to transpose it into visual representations for the former group. In a time where data is available through multiple channels and in numerous formats, knowing how to condense and present it will serve you well in business, not just for you, but for your customers.

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This piece was written by Lauren Minning, Content Specialist for Payline.

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