Interactive Data Visualization
May 26, 2021 ● 7 min read
Visual aids are an important part of any presentation for a reason - we process visual inputs a lot faster than written text. It's more effective and less time-consuming to digest a report that contains relevant and charming visuals for what is written. In this article, we cover different types of data visualization, give you reasons, why it is important and beneficial to use them in a corporate environment, and provide you with relevant and popular tools you can use to visualize data.
Table of Contents
- The Benefits Of Interactive Data Visualizations
- Data Visualization Tools
- Static vs. Interactive Visualization
- The Importance of Interactive Data Visualization
- Examples of Interactive Data Visualization
The Benefits Of Interactive Data Visualizations
- Finding correlations - Displaying data on a single dashboard can help you find different connections behind the better and worse performance. For example, whether sales are higher because of a better online presence, or because of a recent paid advertising campaign, or whether there is a correlation between a few recent negative reviews and a drop in sales. It is important that any decisions or new strategies you wish to implement are data-driven and have a solid foundation.
- Quick action - As mentioned earlier, you process information faster when it is visualized. This means you notice issues or gaps in performance faster and have the ability to act on those findings. It also gives investors, board members, and other stakeholders a better overview of the situation.
- Identifying new trends - Humans are good at categorizing things or recognizing patterns, in fact, our brains are wired to do so. So by curating performance dashboards, you have a much better chance of spotting trends and figuring out which of your strategies have been more effective, as well as other factors that have an impact on your success.
- Complex concepts are simplified - The goal of interactive data visualization is to convey insights, which leads to business intelligence. It's easier to tell a story and share your findings when you yourself can understand them better. Moreover, a lot of tools allow you to drill down into your insights and generate reports on interactive data that then could be used when creating easier to 'digest' content.
It's pretty clear that this approach to decision-making is irreplaceable, and that's why many companies are actually investing in interactive data visualizations.
If you think about it, most of the gadgets we use in our everyday lives rely on data visualization to tell us if something is good or bad. Now, we are going to go over some tools and techniques to help you create data visualizations.
Data Visualization Tools
The software or apps used for interactive visualization can do so much more than just create bar charts or graphs. These tools usually connect to other data sources and build a data pipeline that leads to your database.
In other words, certain software can extract and transform data which is later visualized or used for generating reports.
One of those tools is Whatagraph.
It has features and the ability to extract and transform data in real-time, so your interactive graphs will change frequently. Interactive also indicates that you can have better customization options for that visualization. You can remove or add some components, compare them with one another over a specific time frame, and isolate outliers.
Whatagraph also has API templates for the integration with social media, Google Analytics, Facebook, Instagram, Shopify, as well as other popular platforms or data sources. This allows you to curate detailed performance dashboards and monitor otherwise complex data in a fairly simple way.
Static vs. Interactive Visualization
Static data visualization has no interactive features, meaning it doesn't update in real-time. It is basically a report that you generate from a specific data source that provides insights or data values over specific points in time. Although it sounds inferior to interactive visualization, it is sometimes the only form of visualization available.
Processing large volumes of data requires a lot of computing power. Constantly monitoring all that data is not necessarily beneficial. It is more important to store data that can be analyzed later than to constantly monitor it in real-time.
Tools like Google Data Studio do allow you to sync and update data in real-time, but as a result, it can significantly decrease or hinder its loading time. It is for this reason that users tend to configure data freshness to update less frequently.
Static visualization may also be more appropriate for less complex data storytelling. If you want to connect multiple concepts or simply theorize, static data visualizations can be just as useful as interactive data visualizations. Finally, it can be more cost-effective to rely on static visualizations, which is why they are still widely used.
The Importance of Interactive Data Visualization
Even though static data visualization is very useful there are instances where having an interactive feature is necessary or irreplaceable for that matter.
First of all, interactive visualizations allow you to ask follow-up questions. This means that you can add more/other factors to the existing report which could be useful for better contextualization of the results. When looking at customer engagement data, you can also add geographics: age groups, gender, locations, or other attributes that could help you define your core audience.
Another advantage of interactive visualizations is the ability to select a metric or a point of interest and closely examine it. This allows you to explore specific data points in-depth and understand why they are the way they are. This granularity can help you come up with specific solutions, such as - change this keyword phrase, reduce the price of this item, stop advertising on a specific site, etc.
The idea of interactivity is to allow you to create a sub-report for each of the data points or key points of interest in your general report. This allows companies that have a complex reporting structure and multiple departments to combine all of the separate reports into a single report while maintaining the level of detail that each individual report contains.
Examples of Interactive Data Visualization
We can see multiple examples of data visualizations today, and it is usually on websites that display metrics related to different geographies. This is popular during the election time when people monitor on an interactive map how one of the candidates is performing and where his or her influence is more dominant. We also saw a lot of examples during the pandemic when we tracked the number of people infected, vaccinated, hospitalized, and died.
Medical devices also rely on an interface that visualizes data to some extent, by telling if the numbers you are seeing are normal, high, or low. We also have interactive charts when we want to compare trends or the number of searches for certain keyword phrases.
We see interactive visualizations in weather forecasting, pollution charts, population density charts, but also in the stock market.
Basically, things that are related to our health and finances are of great importance, therefore having a better insight into those things is always useful. This is all thanks to data visualization tools, and because we respond positively when certain statistics are easier to understand. Considering the fact that data visualizations are so popular, it is not surprising that many gadgets add some kind of visualization to their display.
What is used for interactive visualization?
Creating an interactive visualization requires the use of a data analysis tool or software that allows the user to extract, transform and manipulate data to display it graphically in a report. This type of representation ensures that all the key points of interest are neatly organized and portrayed, but it also allows for an in-depth analysis of each of these elements.
Why is interactive data visualization important?
Interactive visualizations are important for multiple reasons.
To begin with, it is easier for the readers to comprehend or digest the information when it is presented visually. Then, it allows you to monitor business processes in real-time, which can be useful if you encounter problems that need to be fixed ASAP. Such problems could be - website page or server malfunction.
Finally, users can select a certain data set or metric and examine it closely to gain a better understanding of specific elements within the report.
What is an interactive data dashboard?
An interactive data dashboard is an app for data management that helps you monitor, track, and analyze information from different sources of data. It also visually displays all the important business metrics and allows you to interact with these elements. The idea is to enable users to be well-informed and facilitate decision-making that is backed by data.
To sum up, it is an irreplaceable tool for quality business intelligence.