What is data visualisation?

Data has become a commodity that is now more valuable than oil. There are whole industries designated to capturing, sorting, making sense, and selling this sought after product. Ever wonder how Google and Facebook survive and continue to be worth billions of dollars without ever making you pay for anything? That is because they collect every little ounce of information on you they can (you technically allow them to do this by using their service) then they sell this off to advertisers and media companies who in turn target you with their ads and slyly manipulate you into buying their product. 

This all sounds kind of scary if you think about it too much, but what’s kind of cool is every business owner has access to their own data that they can use to inform business decisions and make targeted marketing campaigns. The big question is how do you organise this data so that it makes sense and allows you to make meaningful business decisions.The answer to this, is a practice called data visualization.

What is Data Visualisation?

Data Visualisation is the practice of visualising your data so that it can be understood and impact future decisions in a meaningful way. There is no point having spreadsheets of data if your manager or client can’t comprehend any of the good stuff you have created. Tools like Google Analytics are a great example of this, as they pull all the important data from your website and build graphs that give you a snapshot of your online performance. The step above this, is interpreting this data and using it to make meaningful decisions which will improve business performance. Great digital and analytics firms make a living do this and are a highly valuable asset for any business looking to gain an edge on their competition.

How has Data Visualisation evolved over time?

The way people have visualised data over time has evolved to be more meaningful. As marketers continue to implement data in their every day business strategy, how they organise it continues to grow. 3 years ago (and still today in a lot of cases) people visualise data by simply pulling out the numbers from a spreadsheet and plugging it into a report - this works great, and helps it’s readers interpret the information far easier than reading numbers off a spreadsheet. 

This then evolved into the form of a live dashboard. In essence, this gives the ability for users to see historic metrics of their business overtime as well as in real-time. As great as this is for seeing trends and making people accountable as to what is working, where dashboards fall short is they offer no actionable insights which is leaving 98% of the point in using data out of the picture. It may give you the feeling of being a stockbroker for 2 weeks as you can see your metrics moving up and down, but if you cannot use this to make decisions that impact your business in a positive way, there is really no use in having a dashboard.

The most modern and effective way of visualising data is in the form of an infographic. This is where design and data merge and is by far the most easily digestible way to consume data. Visualising key data points in this format allows people to be taken along a story and pull out key points and insights that can be actioned.

Summary

Endless data is available to every business and website owner. However, this is not valuable unless used to generate actionable insights. To generate these insights you will need to visualise this data in a way that can be easily consumed, this is the practice of data visualisation. There are multiple ways you can do this, but marketers should always be reminded that the goal of having data is to help aid business decisions.

Published by Alex Jordan