Columbus, OH — When you think of data, a few things may come to mind: Excel, charts, graphs, and Star Trek to name a few. But as data has become bigger, more complex, and increasingly harder to understand, it is more than to be able to communicate what data means to your clients, customers, and teammates. So, what are some ways you can make data more accessible and easier to understand?
One way is to make data more relatable by providing a reference point for scale. As long as the two items have comparable units to connect, people can then better understand the actual data you’re providing them. For example, if someone were to say that Apollo 11’s mass is 28,801 kg a lot of people might respond with a blank stare. But by providing another comparison, like saying that is the equivalent of around 19 cars, allows them to imagine the actual size of the lunar module.
The same works whether you are comparing length of time, size, distance or speed. Even places can apply in this format. People often compare new locations to existing locations to help other people make sense of it. But when verbally explaining what your data means falls short, what’s the best course of action?
This is where data visualization comes in. Data visualization can help tell the story of your data and appropriately show its impact. A key to appropriately visualizing your data is to understand your audience. Knowing the people that will be consuming the data will allow you to simplify, add, or dissect how it’s displayed. Since the invention of the pie chart in 1800’s, data visualization has come a long way.
Earth to Data — New interesting, dynamic, and versatile applications of data visualization can handle to large amount of data constantly being produced and analyzed. While there are a lot of static and dynamic options, it is important to boil the data down to only the parts that matter to your narrative. Data is a vital communication tool that, when done well, adds value and context to your story. When handled incorrectly it will only muddy the waters and leave room for doubt.