Visualizing Simple Data Points

Posted on November 5, 2015 | Updated on June 13, 2023

Infographics seem to be everywhere. There’s a reason: Information presented visually is better retained by the human brain and elicits a stronger response from site visitors. 90% of the information that is transmitted to the human brain is visual. Data points in graphics can be processed as much as 60 thousand times faster than plain text. Add color to that graphic representation of big data points and it’s 80% more likely to be read.

With those types of statistics, one fact is clear — adding data visualizations is vital to writing clear and engaging copy. However, it can be tough to present that data in a way that the viewer will clearly understand.


Forget Pie Charts and Bar Graphs

Many designers now recommend that you “banish” pie charts and bar graphs from your data visualizations. The reason they suggest losing these graphic representations of data is simply that they’ve been overused. The average person is introduced to pie charts and bar graphs in elementary school.

This familiarity may cause the viewer to filter out data represented in this way. By banning these types of graphics from your visualizations, you’ll be forced to think outside the box in ways to show the same information. That creates a fresh perspective that can grab the interest of the viewer.

Make Points Easy to Read

Don’t make the visualization so large that the viewer has to scroll to see it all or so small that it is hard to read. The elements on the page need a size balance. If you want the reader drawn to a point, make it slightly larger than others around it, but don’t make the scale change distractingly crazy.

Also pay attention to how the colors contrast with other design elements. For example, yellow on a white background is tough to read. Apply the same color elements to your design that you would to any other design project.

Consider the Topic

James R A Davenport, who runs a data visualization blog, advises using “sensible conventions for your layout.”

If a graphic measures time, you will probably present a graphic list going from left to right, but if you are discussing height or size you may want to create a visual that guides readers’ eyes up and down. Use common sense here, but think about what will create the most visual impact for your reader.

Use Big Concepts

Try to think about elements that can be tied into a topic. For example, if you’re adding facts about the Cloud, you know and the reader knows that the Cloud is not a physical cloud in the sky. However, using an image of clouds can add to the impact and drive your point home.

Brainstorm New Ideas

Consult with others to find out what comes to their mind when thinking about the topic at hand. This might help you create a visualization of the topic that is unique and speaks to the majority of your audience.

Ultimately, thinking outside the box and avoiding design clichés will result in viz that drives consumer action.

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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at

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