Fail with data, if you dont follow these steps

Fail with data if you ignore these steps

The take away from an ancient human is “if you value your life at all, you will learn to show and not tell. And you will visualize your data”. The same is applicable in the modern business context as well, where people have complex lifestyles and absolutely very little time and attention span.

From Numbers to Narrative

Telling a story is of paramount importance. It requires figuring out how to organise data to tell a story and put that in a way that is intelligible and easily understandable while also helping in decision making. Every narrative has to be supported by Analyses and a focal point

We have to scan individual characters, put those together into words, put those words together into messages, understand those messages and then make a decision.

Visualizing data helps humans quickly analyze several pieces of information and decide relative importance and which one needs to be addressed first

The take away for an ancient human is “if you value your life at all, you will learn to show and not tell. And you will visualize your data“.

Sources of data:

Primary, secondary, search and social data

Analyse the data:

There are 4 ways to analyse data for visualizations:

  1. How much/what percent: This is common. We can all make them with standard digital tools like spreadsheets etc. The way we can make them is through creative copy and design. Example, dressing up bar chart creatively will make people stick with it longer.
  2. Trends: Trend visualizations involve plotting x over timeline y. Trend visualizations can really add value by adding Callouts or labelling for various peaks and vallies of the data visualized to give out analysis and observations.
  3. Correlations: Correlations visualizes statistically significant correlations between x and y.
  4. Geographic: This visualization relates to locations and mapping. This way is more versatile as geographic visualization can represent qualitative and quantitative data. This can be used to segment one location into multiple smaller locations and study data to unearth specific trends related to each smaller location which might give insights into the many other aspects of the specific location.

Visualize the data: Here are the steps

Identify the goals

Always start with the questions: What are we trying to do? What does a win look like? Answers may be something like: Are we trying to increase the page views or Are we trying to get more signups for newsletter, are we trying to get more sales?

Pinpoint the audience

Start with questions like: Who are we talking to? What are we trying to tell them? Are we trying to talk to a super busy COOs? or Are we trying to communicate to scientific community? Once we frame the questions and reach answers to each of the questions, we will be able to make the visualization speak their language. This will help decide the elements in the visualizations like do we need more callouts to explain things or more visual highlighting to make things self-explanatory.

Align your content to goals and audience

This involves picking a content type that appeals to both goals and audience. It may be a presentation, a snapshot or an infographic for a busy time constrained executive, a social graphics that can render well on mobile and is very easy to share, or an eBook or white paper that can attract leads.

Structure your story

Strong title/headline explaining visualization, Data becomes the supporting evidence with clear conclusion or a call to action like a URL or a learn more button or hashtag to join conversation etc.

Basics of visual grammar

Colour, shape, size and proximity(similar): Use them to highlight and prioritize and to direct the viewers’ attention to a specific element in the visualization.


This implies to focus on that part of the data that helps to tell the story. Avoid visual elements that distract attention from the most important aspect of the data.


While making an argument or telling a story, make sure the audience understand the perspective in the same way as the people who design the visualization. Make sure visualization explains how all the elements fit together. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by following a hierarchy as in organisational charts, decision trees etc.


This is again a way to highlight and to redirect audience attention to a specific element in the visualization. This can be done by Colour, shape, size and proximity(similar).


Every chart or visualization is an abstraction of a real-world phenomenon. Make sure the abstraction is self-explanatory and users can easily understand which real-world object or situation each abstraction represents.

Featured Speakers:
Jenny Karn, Co-founder & VP of Marketing, Beutler Ink
William Beutler, Founder, Beutler Ink