Tools for Data Visualization
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.
- [Article] Big Data for Humans: The Importance of Data Visualization
- [Article] Stephen Few on Data Visualization: 8 Core Principles
- [Deck] Data Visualization 101: How to Design Charts and Graphs
- [E-book] Data + Design: A simple introduction to preparing and visualizing information
- [List of Lists] Storytelling with Data