Harnessing data is a powerful way to elevate your content and drive clicks and traffic to your site. But extracting stories from data isn’t easy – especially when you’re dealing with large data sets that appear virtually indecipherable. That’s where data visualisation tools can help.
Data visualisation tools automate the process of turning data into visuals. Based on pre-defined parameters, they extract stats and figures from your data sets, creating charts, maps and graphs which facilitate effective, data-driven storytelling.
Here, we provide an introductory guide to data visualisation, explaining what it is and how it can be used, and some of the tools you can use to create visuals from data.
- What is data visualisation?
- What are the benefits of data visualisation?
- What are data visualisation tools?
- 5 of the best data visualisation tools
Data visualisation is the process of translating data into a visual, making it easier to read and understand. It’s a way of making complex data more accessible while highlighting key points.
Shapes, images, colours and charts are easier for us to understand than a spreadsheet or database. By presenting data visually, it gives a much clearer picture of what a piece of content is trying to say – for increased engagement and a better user experience.
From a marketer’s perspective, data visualisation is an effective way to marry raw data with visual content. Its application is useful in a wealth of marketing-related scenarios, from the creation of internal Google Analytics reports to the publication and outreach of otherwise complex and inaccessible information.
With an incredible amount of data at our fingertips, finding creative ways to turn complex data sets into compelling visual stories has become a go-to tactic for content marketers. Provided the information is unique and of interest, any data can be extracted, refined and visually presented as a way of winning clicks, shares and traffic off the back of your content.
Presenting data visually offers many benefits for marketers, including:
- Tell a new story – data can be tirelessly extracted to present new stories and angles to your readership.
- Faster communication – time is precious in the digital sphere, so visual data helps to get your content seen faster. Digestible data visuals are perfect for social media sharing, presenting a story in a rapid, easy-to-digest form.
- Understand connections – pulling data from a set can highlight new patterns and trends which you may otherwise not have noticed, so it’s a great way to bolster your campaign strategy.
- Back up your content – no one can argue with data, so visuals are a great accompaniment to content which is trying to get a serious point across.
- Create new discussions – data can be a force for change and the catalyst for new discussion and ways of thinking. Presenting it visually will increase the impact and increase engagement.
Data visualisation tools help marketers present data visually. Since content marketing grew to become a prevalent facet of organic search optimisation, several platforms have emerged which allow you to quickly turn data into visuals – a simple way to create data-driven content that can increase engagement and traffic to your site.
Dealing with large data sets can be a tricky, if not impossible task. When you want to find unique stories in your data or highlight the standout stats and figures, it’s often not possible or feasible to do this manually – which is where data visualisation tools come in.
By automating the process of extracting noteworthy data from complex, often indecipherable sets, data visualisation tools, it could be said, do your job for you. Even if you opt for a process which is only semi-automated, it becomes much easier to handle, analyse and extract the data when using the right data visualisation tool.
But which tools should you be using? And what benefits do they offer? Find out below.
With thousands of tools and applications promising to transform your data into visuals, how do you go about choosing the best platform for the job? Well, while at a basic level there’s overlap between the functionality of some tools, there are applications whose features and interface make them stand out from the rest.
Here, we take a look at 5 of the best data visualisation tools and the benefits they offer.
Tableau is one of the best-known data visualisers out there, and they’ve made several significant improvements over the years to ensure their platform offers a one-size-fits-all solution for multiple applications and disciplines. The tool’s strength lies in its huge wealth of import options, including CSV and Google Analytics data, which means you can automate and visualise just about any type of data set.
- Free public version is great for quick visuals to accompany site content
- In-built infographic and visualisation templates look premium and original
- Mapping feature is one of the best around, allowing for the creation of colour-coded maps to highlight geographic trends
If you want to create highly-visual charts which make your data clear and easy-to-digest, ChartBlocks is worth a look. The platform boasts a powerful API which is designed to allow data imports from any source, making it extremely easy to automate large data sets. Chart options are also good, with the handy ‘Chart Wizard’ making accurate assumptions based on specific patterns and trends within the set. For speedy automated visual making, it’s hard to beat.
- Quickly produce professional=looking charts from large data sets.
- Chart Wizard makes extracting the right data extremely easy
- Free version available with enough functions and capability for simple chart and report creation
Datawrapper is designed for creating data-led visuals which can be embedded on news sites, blogs and social media – perfect for those focusing their efforts on a digital PR strategy. The premise is simple: copy and paste your data into the tool, choose the chart type you want, and the tool will do the rest, creating an embed code for you to share with media outlets or post yourself. Visualisation options include bar charts, area charts, scatter plots, symbol maps and locator maps, so there’s plenty of option depending on the story you’re trying to tell.
- Quickly build data visuals that are suitable for widespread press coverage, and compatible with all major CMS systems
- Embed code makes it easy to share and distribute your charts, without the need to transfer large files
- Free plan is great value for small sites who do regular PR pitching and visual data creation
Google Charts has become the go-to data visualisation tool for many, mainly because it’s free to use. Like all good data visualisation platforms, Google Charts offers a range of data import options, including Google Sheets and SQL databases. The app also works with dynamic data, with HTML5 and SVG output ensuring that the charts you create work on all browsers without the need for additional plugins. What’s more, there are a great range of chart types and options available, including scatter charts, bar charts, maps, treemaps, gauges and others. Plus, all of the above can be easily edited with CSS – what more could you ask for?
- Completely free to use, with no restrictions or limits on data sets or visual creation
- HTML5 and SVG ensures complete compatibility on any browser, without the need for additional plugins
- Huge variety of charts, maps and data tables available, making it easy to select the visual you want for the story you’re telling
- Build advanced charts and dashboards that can be fully integrated, and shared simply via an embed code
- Lots more features than other data visualisation tools, including full integration with HS frameworks like React and Angular.
- Excellent for building charts for mobile devices.
At Banc, our content marketing and digital PR specialists create visual, shareworthy content that drives traffic, links and clicks to your website. For more information about how we can take your organic search performance to the next level, visit the homepage or call us on 0345 459 0558.