Interactive Presentations, Big Data

What's the Data Story You Want to Tell?

These days, enterprise companies have the ability to take advantage of massive amounts of data in order to improve their offerings and their marketing strategy as well as other business operations. But with SO many data points collecting every moment, it can quickly become overwhelming trying to figure out which areas to focus on and how to interpret the large amounts of information in order to better help our clients.

Here are some tips to help you better visualize your data in order to give your clients better experiences.

1. Ask Yourself - What's the story you want to tell?

First things first - ask yourself what exactly you are trying to convey. There are plenty of different types of information that you want to provide your clients with and each type benefits from being displayed in a specific way. Follow these guidelines when figuring out the best presentation style.

Are you comparing values?

Charts are the best way to compare one or many value sets and they can easily display the low and high values in the data sets. These types of graphs can help you create a comparison chart:

  • Column
  • Mekko
  • Bar
  • Pie
  • Line
  • Scatter Plot
  • Bullet
Comparing

Are you showing a composition/breakdown?

These types of charts are best for showing how individual parts make up the whole, like breaking down the number of total sales by sales rep.

  • Pie
  • Stacked Bar
  • Mekko
  • Stacked Column
  • Area
  • Waterfall
Composition

Are you analyzing the distribution of your data?

Distribution charts are a great way to understand outliers, the normal tendency, and the range of info that your values provide. These charts are best for showing distribution:

  • Scatter Plot
  • Mekko
  • Line
  • Column
  • Bar
Composition Copy

Do you want to analyze trends in your data set?

IN order to learn more information about how a data set performed during a specific period, use one of these charts:

  • Line
  • Dual-Axis Line
  • Column
Trends

Do you want to have a better understanding of the relationship between value sets?

Relationship charts help show how one variable relates to one or many other variables. This helps you see how one thing might positively or negatively affect another variable or have no effect at all. Use one of these charts to show relationships:

  • Scatter Plot
  • Bubble
  • Line
Relationships

2. Choose Visualization

The next step is to figure out how you want to present the data graphically. There are a number of tools you can use, such as MS Power BI, that let you choose from a wide array of options. Using the lists above, you can determine which type of visualization will be most effective for the story you are trying to tell and select it from the software you are using.

 

3. Go Live - Make Interactive

The size and scope of data we collect is so incredibly important to businesses today, and we have super sophisticated tools to help us interrogate and interpret it. The businesses that are leading the way, such as the New York Times, are using highly interactive and bespoke data visualizations. This makes sense because our clients have higher expectations for consuming data - it needs to be easily accessible and understood but still offer enough insight to be actionable. It should be live, on-brand, interactive and mobile-friendly - basically, data needs to be more human.

When data is more interactive, it allows you to collect more and better information about the user. This is incredibly valuable to your clients. In our modern world, we interact every day with everything - our colleagues, our friends, our mobile devices, etc. Our clients expect this same level of interactivity in order to help our readers understand and analyze our data. Popups, drop-down menus and other interactive features can enhance charts in order to make visualizations much more compelling, meaningful and useful.

shutterstock_192015854-1-1024x683Take a look at this example. Instead of just providing a straightforward chart, there are a number of different elements that make the information more digestible. The largest positive and negative changes are colored in green and red to make them pop. Then, an added popup shows contextual information for some of the categories in order to give background when interpreting the chart. It also provides the % change at-a-glance. The drop-down menu lets the user choose where to see the historic change or else to look ahead to the future to see what to expect. These features don't need to be implemented in every chart, but you can keep charts simple and add interactivity whenever it makes sense to do so.

Figuring out what data story you want to tell is the first step toward leveraging data in the best possible way and then providing better information for your clients. Once you have the story figured out, you can choose the best way to visualize the data to showcase relevant information and then add in interactive elements in order to make it visually satisfying and also more useful and effective. Making your data more human will keep you flush with great information to present to your clients and help you stay ahead of the competition.

About the Author

Director Product Management at Xinn, Michael provides relentless focus on developing value-driving product features that solve complex enterprise challenges for the modern Age of the Customer.

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