The web is getting even more visual day by day. Infographics, animated GIFs, interactive slideshows and flip books, your content is supposed to catch an eye of a consumer who is used to seeing beautiful visuals on every page.
Your content needs to get more visual, more beautiful and more interactive.
Before I start listing my favorite visualizing tools and tricks, consider this a disclaimer: I am not a profession web or graphic designer. In fact, I am not a very talented amateur one, either; which is why I feel particularly qualified to cover this topic: how to figure out those pesky proportions using visualization and other helpful methods when you are trying to create data graphics.
A Note About Clarity
I feel like this should be mentioned before we begin. The most important thing to consider when you are trying to present data in a visual form, no matter the style of graphic, is that it maintains its clarity.
While you would think this point is a no-brainer, I have come across graphics again and again that are next to unreadable. Infographics that are horribly cluttered. Pie charts that require the user to actually calculate the degree of each section rather than providing percentages. Bar graphs that start from a point other than zero and so mislead the user, skewing the data. It is a nightmare of mismatched styles and misinformation that is really hard on the eyes to boot.
There are several areas to look at when making your data to ensure it is clear:
- Clean lines that are easy to differentiate.
- Colors to help separate data points. Pakwired lists some great tools to pick well-matching colors.
- Clear numbering systems to give context to visuals.
- Empty space that borders sections.
- Good grid systems to keep things organized.
- Easy access to resources used for gathering info, with correlating direction points.
For more basic visual (and other) tips for bloggers, check out this easy blogging guide. Now that we have some tips on presenting data, here are some easier ways to present it, with proper proportions, without being a designer yourself.
Create a Pie Chart
Pie charts are a standard for data presentation because they give a very quick, simple way to present that information. That trouble is that calculating the segments is like being back in Statistics class and no one wants that.
The truth is that you can eyeball to get a general idea of how big the space is going to be. As long as you provide the percentage on the chart itself, or correlate it with a color key, you should be fine.
But if you want to be really accurate you can always go with a generator that will give you complete segments in the right dimensions. I personally like Canva, as it is an easy to use tool that looks very professional. If that isn’t your style you can check out other free generators, or even make one in Excel.
Create a Bar Graph
Bar graphs tend to be a bit simpler, but they aren’t always the most attractive. I have always made mine in simple image editors and even Paint will work (though the final product will be very basic). The trick is getting the data points right and making sure your information isn’t at all misleading.
You can find several generators but I favor ChartGo. The features are a little more complicated, but it is totally customizable and the final chart looks awesome. The only downside is you can’t provide additional information without editing it in on another program, or providing it as a caption.
For a much easier tool you could try the generator at NCES Kid’s Zone. I know a number of teachers who prefer this one, not only for its simplicity but its color scheme.
Create an Infographic
This has to be my favorite method of visualizing data and I recommend it all the time. Infographics are ridiculously helpful and a marketers dream. They are easy to share socially (in fact, they are shared 3x’s more than any other content), attract a lot of attention and are super popular. Not to mention they convey a ton of information quickly, in a visual way that sticks in people’s minds.
Unfortunately, these are not easy to make. They take a lot of time and effort, even if you are using a program to do them. While many designers opt to do it from scratch in editing programs like Photoshop, that just isn’t something I am going to be able to do. Not if I want to keep my sanity.
My go-to choice is Pikochart, which I prefer to Canva’s also helpful generator. You pick a template, add or remove sections and use their onboard gallery for images. You can also go searching for your own and add them in, though that requires some editing on your part in order to fit the grid system.
You have probably come across many infographics made from this service. Since it is both very easy to drag and drop/fill in the blanks, yet the product is very professional looking, even designers have started to use it in order to work more quickly without sacrificing quality.
Best of all? You don’t have to try and figure out dimensions. You just drag and drop the lines so you can eyeball it to get it where you want it.
Create a Slideshow
This is another big method for me, mainly because it is the easiest out of all of the above ideas. You can just create a slideshow with visuals and drop the statistics in that you want to provide. That’s it, no frills and it gets the point across while being visually stimulating.
You may have noticed that I am a bit of a slideshow junkie in previous posts and that is why. Anything that provides a valuable resource for my readers but doesn’t take me hours to complete is A-OK in my book.
Have an idea to share for visualizing data without years of schooling to help you do it? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image source: Pixabay