Cloudy with a Chance of… Pizza?

Cloudy with a Chance of… Pizza?

Imagine someone tells you it’s going to rain.  You look up at a cloud covered sky, shrug, and think “Sure, it looks cloudy, there’s a chance”.  But that’s not enough, you have questions, you want specifics. You look up again and notice a patch of darker color clouds to the north, BINGO.  That’s your answer.

Data is more than just facts.  It can be creative, colorful, inspirational, and even emotional. Data can tell a story if used correctly, and what better way to tell a story than with a picture.  I wouldn’t say that there is ONE process to follow when creating a visualization, that would be boring. However, there are some good practices that can be used when trying to communicate certain chapters of your story.

Know your audience

You wouldn’t read a novel to a child and you wouldn’t talk about pizza at the gym.  Know what questions your audience has and create a visualization that answers those questions in a manner they can digest.

The right type of visual

If you are comparing the population between Arizona, California, and Oregon, a good choice would be a bar chart.  If you are curious about weather trends for these three states during the summer months, you could use a line chart.  Maybe you want to show the composition of iPhone users vs. Android users in those three states, a stacked column chart would do the job here.

Colors make it pop

Consider using intuitive colors (green/red to convey good/bad).  If you have a chart that contains categories (types of fruits), consider using colors to represent each category.  But be mindful of the amount of colors used, 7 is a lucky number.  

Get creative and inspire

This is where the real fun starts.  Rather than explaining, I will share two of my favorite visualization presentations.

Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo 

The beauty of data visualization – David McCandless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Zg-C8AAIGg 

By: Monica Kay Royal

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