When to represent data using graphics?

Graphics can very much enhance the ability to consume raw data in a fast and more efficient way. However, sometimes graphics are just too much and don’t really contribute to help the reader digest the content. A graphical or visual representation is only as useful as the methodology that was applied to engineer it. So when should you use graphics to represent your data, and what makes it good?

Graphics can very much enhance the ability to consume raw data in a fast and more efficient way. However, sometimes graphics are just too much and don’t really contribute to help the reader digest the content. So when should you use graphics to represent your data?

Ask yourself some of these questions to help you evaluate:

  • Is the primary reason for these graphics to represent data?
  • Does the visualization stimulate the reader to understand the underlying meaning within the raw data?
  • Does the visual representation help focus on the content and its meaning without competing with it?
  • Does the visual representation enhance the readers understanding of the data?
  • Does the visual representation help its reader to gain an accurate picture of the information it represents?
  • Does the visual representation use the right amount of space?
  • Is the information coherent and arranged in a logical way?
  • Is the display self-explanatory or is its reader forced to decode the meaning?
  • Are trends easily identifiable?
  • Is it possible to draw a clear conclusion from the presented information and make informed decisions?
  • Does the displayed data encourage its readers to compare and analyze the displayed data?
  • Is the information organized in such a way that the reader can get an immediate overview of the data?
  • Does each graphic perform a function (such as describing, exploring, or tabulating) while increasing the meaningfulness of each display?
  • Does the visual representation consoidate the essential information in such a way that it is easy to consume, and is equipped with clear statistical and/or verbal descriptions?

 

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