5 Ways to Improve Data Visualization

1. Use Color Sparingly and Strategically

Colors can be a powerful way to draw our audience’s attention to the things that we want them to focus on. In her book, Cole mentioned about the power of pre-attentive attributes, like color, size, and position to signal what’s important.

Region with the most apartments is highlighted in blue

2. Adding Details through Annotations

We can use annotation to describe relevant external factors. Using the same color also makes it easier for the audience to see which part of the data is relevant to the description.

Annotations are highlighted with the same color as the bar to make it easier for audience to see which part of the data is relevant to which annotation.

3. It’s Recommended to Use Line Charts for Continuous Data

Line charts are usually best for continuous data, while bar charts work great for categorical data.

It might be tempting to use bar chart
But, line chart gives us a cleaner view of how the trend looks like

4. Maximizing Data-Ink Ratio (Declutter the Graph)

In his book, Tufte says: “The larger the share of a graphic’s ink devoted to data, the better”. Ink that fails to depict statistical information does not have much interest to the audience and therefore should be erased. It’s surprising that there are a lot of graphics with redundant and non-data-ink that can be erased without affecting the information that we want to convey to the audience. By erasing these “junks”, we can even convey the information in a much better and cleaner way.

Source: http://www.storytellingwithdata.com/

5. Things to avoid

Never use 3D charts! Unless we are actually plotting a third dimension. 3D charts are not as cool as we thought and they tend to lead us to misinterpretation of the data because they are more difficult to see.

The 3D effect on the left bar chart leads to a misleading information.
In pie chart, it is difficult to see how each category compares to each other, especially when the percentages are more or less the same. Bar chart definitely does a better job!

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