Best Practices for Great Data Visualization

Analytics and machine learning used to be just catchy buzzwords tossed around in the business world, but they have entered the mainstream today. Companies now know how valuable data is, which has magnified the importance of implementing data visualization to better understand their meaning. But, it can be confusing and overwhelming to understand how best to leverage data visualization and many companies do it differently. However, there are a few tips that data visualization pros use that can benefit your business. Keep reading for a few best practices for handling, analyzing, and interpreting bulk quantities of information.

Prioritize Your Audience

Data visualization isn’t just about arranging data into charts and dashboards to deliver information. When thinking about data visualization, it’s important to consider specific circumstances, such as what your audience needs to know. When developing a visualization, identify the persona who will be reading the data. Look at their challenges and goals, and identify the roadblocks they face on the way to achieving those. Don’t create a single dashboard for all stakeholders—design it for the people most likely to keep referring to this particular set of data.

You should also know the decisions you hope to drive with the data. For example, operational choices might require different visualizations from strategic or tactical ones. Make sure your method aligns with the data, i.e., time-series data sets require a scale that graphs the data points in time order. Meanwhile, operational decisions may be presented in binaries like “Approve or Deny.” A more complex or interactive dashboard would be suitable for strategic and tactical decisions since there are many factors at play.

What Actions Can Viewers Take Based on the Data?

Besides showing stakeholders trends or patterns, data should enable them to act. For example, you could define a threshold for action. When sales performance falls outside a statistically significant norm, for example, you could start gathering data on why this is the case. It ensures that your visualizations stay relevant and actionable for the organization. A big data company can provide you with insights and actionable reports from the information you generate online.

Choose the Right Visual

As mentioned earlier, some types of data fit certain chart types better than others and can help your audience better understand the information. Some of the most frequently used types of visualizations include:

  • Tables: This type consists of rows and columns and can present a lot of information at once. These are good for showing mid-sized trends. High-level views need another type of chart since the amount of data can be overwhelming.

  • Line and Area Charts: These visualizations track changes and relationships between two or more variables. Area charts have a shaded portion below the line, which compares changes among data sets.

  • Bar Charts: This type puts quantities from different categories together.

  • Scatter Plots: This type shows variables plotted along two axes and can reveal correlations among patterns. A subtype of scatter plots includes bubble charts, which show variation between three aspects: the data items on the two axes and the size of the bubble.

  • Pie or Donut Charts: These types compare parts of a whole. Be careful when using pie and donut charts; the sizes of wedges can skew people’s perception of the data. This type of visual needs clear labeling and notations.

  • Tree Maps: This type is great for comparisons of proportions and area size.

  • Heat Maps: This chart represents values as colors and shows the magnitude of a phenomenon. Typically, marketers use them to measure aggregate behavior on websites.

  • Natural Language Generation: Also known as NLG, it is a software process that generates text from data input. Chatbots, image captions, and reports are examples of outputs from NLG.


The world is immersed in the information age and those businesses that have a firm grasp on their data are better positioned to steer their organizations to success. Collecting and storing data is just the start—you also need a way to interpret and visualize information to make actionable decisions.

If your business is looking to explore the possibilities of data visualization, partner with Gemini Data. We provide data insight solutions and help organizations measure their success and shape new, exciting ways forward. Contact us today, and let us start telling your story!

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