People are wired to seek out visual content. Due to the over-saturation of digital content and the increased adoption of mobile internet access, attention spans are shorter than ever, which makes content presented in the form of big blocks of text very off-putting. Audiences are drawn to content that tells a story, especially those about the human experience. Nonprofits can master visual storytelling by pairing data and statistics with the right graphics to tell a simple, but interesting story. These visuals will guide viewers and help them better understand your organization.

Why Data Visualization?

As we’ve discussed, visuals are processed by the human brain 60,000 times faster than text. Visual data also provides audiences with relief from today’s era of information overload. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but only when the story is best told graphically rather than verbally and the picture is well designed.

According to the Interaction Design Foundation,

“Data visualization is effective because it shifts the balance between perception and cognition to take fuller advantage of the brain’s abilities. Seeing (i.e visual perception) which is handled by the visual cortex located in the rear of the brain, is extremely fast and efficient. We see immediately, with little effort.”

Data visualization shifts the balance toward greater use of visual perception, taking advantage of our powerful eyes whenever possible.

Presenting The Data

Your content should guide, not push, your audiences through your story. The data you present should encourage an understanding and learning of your information that allows your audience to create their own experiences. The best data visualizations are insightful, however allow audiences to interpret the data in a way that is most meaningful to them.

Jan Schwochow, founder of the German infographics design firm Golden Section Graphics, writes of visualization technique, “It’s just another toolbox. I think it’s much more important to use your own mind to find the right visualization, so that a reader can learn something and make the right decisions from the data you’re presenting.”

While visualizations have the power to simplify complex data, they run the risk of confusing audiences instead of enlightening them. Data visualizations should be easily understood, playing to audiences’ eyes and minds, without over-stimulating either. 

The Interaction Design Foundation suggests a few tips to achieve your data visualization goals:

  • Clearly indicate how the values relate to one another.
  • Represents the quantities accurately.
  • Make it easy to compare the quantities.
  • Make it easy to see the ranked order of values.
  • Make it obvious how people should use the information – what they should use it to accomplish – and encourages them to do this.

Visual storytelling gives organizations the power to transport audiences and make data come to life. Visual communication will prove far more successful once it is understood as more than a single action, but instead, several activities that require thorough planning, resources and skills.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about data visualization how it can help your organization recruit supporters, prove your impact and celebrate wins. 

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