How can data visualization improve your design?

4 min read • Felipe Alvarez

When we hear the word “design” we probably think about color palettes, art, publicity, etc. But there is a type of graphic design that isn't as known as it should be: data visualization design. In this post, you'll find out what this is, its importance, and its tools.

Data Visualization Design

Data visualization design is a form of communication that deceipts complex information into a visual form so it's easier to interpret. These designers, also known as Information Designers, make our lives easier. Imagine having to read a whole text just so you can know some chronological events, wouldn't a timeline make the job way easier? Or if you want to know the result of a presidential election, wouldn't a pie chart be more dynamic than reading whole paragraphs with the same information? Data visualization design is not all about math graphs and data the usage of design elements is pretty crucial, for example, this graph down below represents the English Proficiency Index of every country whose native language isn't English. The Information Designer that created this, employed the purple color palette to compare the different countries. By knowing that the darkest represents a higher level and the lightest represents the opposite, we can quickly interpret the information.

data visualization design


Color isn't the only element these designers employ. Typography, for example, is crucial for the correct understanding of a graphic, also shape, iconography, and many more.

Charts

Charts are the most common form in which data visualization is expressed. These are good ways of communicating and comparing information. There are different types of charts that will be chosen depending on what data wants to be expressed and what about that data wants to be conveyed. These types are:

  1. Change over time charts: these are the ones that show data over a period of time, showing its progress in relation to a specific variable. This type includes line charts, bar charts, timelines, waterfall charts, and more.
  2. Category comparison charts: ideal for the comparison of data on a specific category. The most common are bar charts, bubble charts, and bullet charts.
  3. Ranking charts: used to show different item positions in a list. The most typical ones are: order bar charts and order column charts
  4. Correlation and relationship charts: these are employed to show a correlation between variables. Some examples are heatmaps, Venn diagrams, and scatterplot charts.
  5. Flow: used to represent the movement of data between multiple states. The most common are chord charts and network charts.
  6. Distribution charts: usually employed to demonstrate the frequency in which diverse values occur. Some of these types are histogram charts and density charts.

Should you hire a Data Visualization Designer?

You probably already understand the importance of data visualization design. If you own a business you should consider hiring an information designer because they are capable of transmitting the information in a creative, comprehensive, and short way. If your business is from one of these specific industries you must hire a data visualization designer.

  1. Nutrition: just think of the food pyramid, that's a perfect example of data visualization. Nutritionists can make their lives easier when working with graphs and charts.
  2. Crypto: data visualization will help you express cryptocurrency values and more data.
  3. Fitness: an Information Designer will facilitate, for example, the representation of the progress of a fitness routine.

Best Data Visualization Tools

There are multiple data visualization tools, many of which are employed by information designers. We've done the necessary research to choose the more effective and versatile ones:

  1. Tableau: this is a data visualization tool that can be used to create graphs, charts, and maps. It gives you the possibility of connecting to different data sources and generating visualizations in minutes. This platform also gives you the option of sharing your work with others. There is a free version called “Tableau Public” that is similar to the original “Tableau Desktop” but with some limitations. Learning to use this software might take some time.
  2. Datawrapper: it is an online data visualization tool whose best characteristic is being very easy to use. It has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Datawrapper lets users create charts and maps in the browser by uploading their files. These are designed for any device. Datawrapperhas a limited free version, where you can only upload 500 rows of data and one sheet of data at a time. There are plenty of chart types such as Line, Bar, Column, Pie, and Scatter.
  3. Vizzlo: This startup was able to generate a chart maker tool for presentations and reports. It can be used as a plug-in for PowerPoint, as an online app, or as an offline desktop app on your laptop. Its interface is very nice and intuitive. It has plenty of charts and graphics templates. It’s a great tool for teams. With Vizzlo you can share themes, layouts, and chart templates. They also offer great cloud storage. You can also download your designs as PNG, PDF, or VZL files. You can use Vizzlo for free, although your design will come with a watermark.
  4. Check out some blogs: There is a big variety of online blogs that will help you gather valuable information. Many of these have interactive ways of learning about data visualization. Being able to see what other designers post will help you improve your work. You will also be able to appreciate this type of design and start realizing how it is present in your daily life. Those blogs we most recommend are Flowing Data, Information is Beautiful, and The Pudding.

Final Thoughts

Data visualization design can be thought of as dirty but necessary work. It's behind every infographic you see online. It's a big upgrade for many businesses, especially in nutrition, crypto, and fitness. In this post, we have recommended the best tools and blogs to boost your Visualization Design Skills.

After all, it's pretty important to be able to transmit data in a clear, nice, and efficient way. Data visualization design is the way to do that.

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