When designing a website in today’s internet landscape, you can’t forget about the importance of data visualization. Users love visual content and want you to explain the value of your products and services in ways that are appealing and aesthetically pleasing.
However, if you’re going to invest in data visualization, there are some things you need to know.
1. Understand the Purpose
When investing in data visualization, you need to understand the purpose behind it. As Emily Rugaber of GoodData points out, data visualizations are always used to empower the audience. “When developing a visualization or a dashboard, identify the highest priority persona,” she writes. “Who will be looking at this data? Resist the temptation to create a dashboard that meets the needs of every single stakeholder who might one day look at it.”
The purpose isn’t to create a resource that you feel good about or develop something that helps you understand what’s happening. The purpose of data visualization is to connect with the end user and empower them to follow through on a certain conversion goal.
Depending on the industry – and your purpose – this could range from closing a sale to convincing a board member to sign off on a project.
2. Highlight the Right Data
When developing visualization for a particular data set, you can’t manipulate the data. However, you can highlight certain aspects that will help you accomplish your initiative or goal. This is the strategic aspect of data visualization, and may very well determine the success of your efforts.
As you can see in this example, comparison charts are often an effective way of organizing data in a systematic structure that’s friendly on the eyes and easy to consume.
Another strategy is to use bar graphs and charts to consolidate data without overwhelming the user. Just check out this example to get an idea of what that looks like.
Ultimately, the data you choose to highlight is as important as the type of visualization you use. However, it’s imperative that you don’t look at these two issues independently of one another.
3. Keep it Simple Stupid
The old KISS acronym, which stands for “Keep it Simple Stupid,” certainly applies when studying data visualization in web design. You should always choose the simplest method of conveying data and conclusions. There’s no point in making things more complicated than they have to be. If the end user can’t look at a particular visualization and understand what’s happening within a few seconds, then something needs to be changed.
4. Use Color to Your Advantage
When it comes to data visualization, color is your best friend. It can be used to add emphasis, differentiate individual metrics, highlight conclusions, and draw connections between different data sets. Just remember that different colors convey unique meaning in various cultures and industries.
When using color in data visualizations, consider the value, hue, and intensity of each color you use. The connotations that come with these colors can either help or hinder your ability to increase conversions. In terms of web design, you also want to think about how different visualizations fit into the grander scheme of your website layout and theme.
5. Typography Shouldn’t be a Crutch
Successful data visualizations are able to say more with less. In other words, they don’t use superfluous text and language to convey conclusions. If you’re relying on typography to guide the user, you’re using text as a crutch.
This infographic is a prime example of what happens when you use too much text in lieu of numbers, statistics, and data points. Suddenly, a medium that was intended to simplify things only serves to confuse readers.
Keep These Tips in Mind
While data visualization looks different for every brand, you should keep these five tips in mind as you integrate different visualizations into your web design.