09 Oct How Data Visualization Makes Complex Info Easy to Understand
When it comes down to marketing, the last thing any business wants is to confuse their clients/customers. Words are fundamentally straightforward, but it is the phraseology that complicates matters. There are of course, different strokes for different folks when it boils down to linguistics, but data visualization speaks in a manner that everyone can understand.
Data visualization is fundamentally the application of graphics toward supporting a point or underlying message.
According to research conducted by 3M, the human brain is capable of processing images 60,000 times faster than text and a great deal of information that travels through the brain is in visual form.
Data visualization can prevent misunderstandings and convey your main message in the most effective manner while stripping down those complex ideas. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words.
This, however, doesn’t mean that your product should appear simplistic or ragtag by piecing together random charts, graphs, shapes and colors. The aesthetics have to be kept consistent along with valuable information. Data visualization is all about representing crucial data with meaningful graphics that will make a topic more appealing and applicable to your target audience.
As a rule of thumb, consider being in the shoes of your audience. Ask yourself some questions: How do you feel about the marketing campaign or presentation? Are too many words being used? Can the key points be condensed and backed up with visual displays? Am I gathering info faster from these visual elements compared to monotonous speech and language?
Caters to Shorter Attention Spans
Society’s attention span seems to be shortening with each generation. The Age of Information has made it easy for anyone with an internet connection to gain quick access to knowledge, all with a click of a mouse or tap of the finger. As such, people are less likely to wait for information due to the abundance of it being circulated throughout the web.
Modern audiences may not possess the patience to process a wordy marketing campaign. Through data visualization, facts are neatly organized and presented to the audience. The concept is similar to fast food — burgers are prepared on the spot to satisfy a hunger or craving and there is close to zero waiting time. Audiences are interested in knowing without enduring a tedious explanation.
Graphics are available in various forms, such as pie charts, graphs, maps (often with shaded regions that represent a demography) – any display that clarifies data. Each visual is meant to lay out information that is easily understood at a glance.
Additionally, graphics may be sorted into specific categories that group information based on location, time frame and type of products. The chosen method should reflect the intended purpose. For example, if Ben & Jerry’s were to come up with a special ice-cream flavor for their 45th Anniversary, a timeline graphic may be most suitable in showcasing their major achievements.
In another example, Google Flights featured a map distribution graphic back in 2015 to effectively display the number of domestic and international flights booked during the Thanksgiving season.
Children’s books are known for their vivid illustrations as much as the stories they contain. Humans are naturally inclined toward interpreting shapes, colors and patterns when it comes down to learning. Mainstream culture involves movies, memes, comics and art pieces that continue to shape public perception and sentiments.
Data visualization analyst, Jed Eastman, expressed a poignant example through explaining the concerns about melting polar ice caps. The graph alone may not be indicative of the true purpose or story behind the presentation. Eastman added a powerful question in the background- “what are we doing about it?” – to spur his audiences to action and become part of an ongoing narrative.
In a sense, data visualization acts like the illustrations found within the pages of fairy tales and fables. They are there to strengthen a narrative. When it comes down to branding and marketing, you are essentially telling a story where audiences have a valuable takeaway. Graphic visualizations will give form to the ideas that you share.
Making Information Relatable
As with any good story, any proposed idea should be highly relatable. Audiences should be able to feel something when they look at the presentation. Does it resonate with their personal lives? Are you solving a lingering problem that affects society? How does your brand edge out the rest of the competition? Is there an actionable item?
Tableau Public features a powerful graphic that most people can relate to – the time you leave your house and returning home. This makes audiences dig deep to ponder on how they are spending their daily lives, with loved ones, at work and with leisure pursuits.
Data visualization can help put things into perspective, which then improves rate of retention. You are essentially telling a story through insightful data points that can help viewers better understand the products, services, and mission of your brand.
Data visualization has become an integral part of the communication process in many ways. This is extremely useful at a time where big data has become a major touch point in society. Companies can also substantially improve their operations through an analyzed and systematic visual breakdown of consumer trends — determining weak points, profitability, and competitor breakdowns.
For more effective data visualizations, organizations may consider these strategies:
- Sticking to succinct information – Use few colors and less jargon when making a point. It should render details more digestible. Stick to a natural neutral tone when presenting data so that the information is applicable to everyone.
- Keeping to a single format – When listing numerals and terms, always keep to uniformity throughout the presentation. This makes it easier for audiences to interpret data.
- Reducing the number of dimensions – This prevents information overload. Keep to a few significant fields that avoids confusing your audience.
- Using one or two charts – An intricate tapestry of different charts may look messy and make information less accessible. A single bar chart or graph is usually more than enough to express a point.
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