Types of Designers: What is a Data Visualization Designer and do you need one?

May 4, 2022Mikenzi Ross

Users get bombarded with facts, data, and information at a dizzying volume. Unfortunately, information fires from all sides at once and isn’t always trustworthy.

And if data is challenging to digest, the most crucial insight gets missed by the people who benefit from it most.

That’s where Data Visualization Designers come in. There are numerous types of designers, several of which we’ve covered in past articles (like Product designers, UI designers, and UX designers.)

Unfortunately, information design (AKA data visualization design) is a specialty that doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.

And that’s a shame because we think they’re some of the most valuable design experts in the visual communications ecosystem.

This article shines a piping-hot spotlight on Data Visualization Designers and helps you decide if their specialization is a practical addition to your startup.

What is a Data Visualization Designer?

In its most simplistic description: Data Visualization Designers (sometimes called “Information Designers”) transform complex data into a visual format that’s easier and more engaging to interpret.

Such a skill aims to enhance a viewer’s ability to analyze otherwise overly complicated data into a visual story that allows them to make decisions more effectively.

Note: When we mean graphics, we’re talking about the stuff we’ve displayed below.

three visual examples of data visualization design. A bar graph, pie chart, and meter graphic are depicted in various hues of orange. Image created in Canva

There are many data visualization examples beyond what we’ve shown above, but this is just to give you an idea of what these types of designers create. So cool, right?

We’d take a bar graph over walls of text any day—visual aids for the win!

Why are Data Visualization Designers important?

Creating exceptional and compelling user experiences goes hand-in-hand with ease of use. Data Visualization Designers know how to review data described in difficult-to-digest contexts and find creative ways to reimagine them into visual aids.

It requires not just creativity but excellent comprehension, as well. In other words (much like UX designers), Information Designers keep their left brain thoroughly engaged throughout the entire design process.

This expertise is valuable in many circumstances—some of which extending beyond the end user’s experience. For example, Data Visualization Designers also help internal teams review and reimagine valuable analytics, thus allowing the project leaders to define or adjust priorities more quickly and effectively.

Should your hire a Data Visualization Designer?

As UX designers, we have a soft spot for Data Visualization Designers (if you couldn’t tell) because they are our kindred spirits. These types of designers use research-driven data to create and develop user-friendly and exciting resources that help people achieve their goals.

The challenge to intellectually and emotionally stimulate a response from their audience is much like developing effective user flows. It requires planning, testing, and putting themselves in the shoes of the person impacted by the design decisions they make.

But now it’s time to answer the big question…

Do you actually need a Data Visualization Designer?

illustration of a small man with two thought bubbles on either side of him. He's contemplating whether to hire a data visualization designer. The left thought bubble contains a question mark. The right thought bubble displays a variety of graphs and data visualization examples.

Well, while we think everyone can benefit from their skills, here are a few industries we think should consider bringing one onto their team—or at least devote some resources to developing the skills internally.

Finance (Personal, Crypto, Investment, etc.)

When dealing with finances, providing users with expertly crafted visual aids can help inspire trust and confidence in making fiscal decisions.

Marketing (Customer Research, Lead Generation, etc.)

Suppose your product helps businesses with their marketing and lead generation. In that case, a data visualization designer can help you take insight surrounding strategy efficacy, conversion rates, etc., to a whole new level.

Fitness & Nutrition

Perhaps one of the most—if not the most—widely recognizable examples of data visualization design is the food pyramid. This humble triangle has been a part of our nutritional decision-making for a long time, and recently received a face-lift thanks to former First Lady, Michelle Obama.

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that fitness and nutrition app users can benefit from reinterpreting their data into eye-catching and easy to recall information graphics.

Data Visualization = Form, Function, and Engagement

We pride ourselves on highlighting elements of the user experience that seem small but, in actuality, often have a massive impact on the success of a product. Visualization Design is one of those things. If there’s an opportunity to simplify and enhance the interaction between the human user and your product, it’s always worth the effort.

Whether regarding content generation or helping users navigate your industry, Data Visualization Designers help you do it in style.

So, the next time you happen across an eye-catching bar graph or infographic, stop and think of the Data Visualization Designer behind it all.

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