Tools for Data Visualization

A top view of a person's hands holding printouts of graphs and using a tablet

A good part of my daily work as a business analyst/product designer is spent thinking about the best ways to visualize data. Bar vs line vs pie: I have to think about ways to help our users better understand the story behind the data.

Now, even if you don’t work on an analytics product like I do, knowing the basics of good data visualization is important for business analysts for two main reasons:

#1) Data reveals business gaps/needs
Big data is driving big decision-making. Data science is helping organizations uncover real business gaps/needs in an objective manner. Data scientists propose a hypothesis (inquiry) in order to yield insights (needs), which we BAs combine with subjective, qualitative, and anecdotal inputs from stakeholders/subject matter experts to transform the need into real impact (change).

#2) Data achieves stakeholder buy-in
Actually, good data presented well achieves stakeholder buy-in. If the need for a change is hidden inside the data, you need to bring it your stakeholders’ attention in order to get their buy-in. You could do this one of two ways: send them a gigantic excel file with rows and columns of data or visualize the same information in a few crisp and clean charts to drive home your point.

Think about it: what would you rather do? Read 10,000 data points or see them plotted on a chart? The latter, of course! Your brain probably rebelled just as the thought of reading rows and rows of data.

Ok, so here are some resources to help you get started.



unsplash-logoWilliam Iven