3 Visual Ways To Display Data

Math. The final frontier. Well, for lots of marketing types it is anyway.

I don’t know about you, but my brain can sometimes shut down when I see a plethora of numbers staring me in the face. I’m not proud of my poor math skills, but I’ve learned to work around it.

One thing that’s always helped me understand big numbers is lots of visuals that can make an idea pop. All across the web you’ll see popular and well–designed infographics, charts, interactive material, and maps. They aren’t outside anyone’s ability to create—you just need inspiration and the data to display it. The next time you need to display a lot of data really quickly, consider some of the following options.


Mashable Infographic

Infographics are amazing because they’ve gotten people all around the web excited about data. What else can do that? To create one yourself, make sure that there’s a flow to your infographic and some kind of connecting element. Think about how you look at a page and design around it. If you need more inspiration, check out CoolInfographics.com.

Charts, Graphs and Interactive Data

There’s nothing new about the world of charts and graphs, you probably had some in your math textbooks as a kid. But the Internet is allowing us to create dynamic graphs and data that you can actually interact and play with.

This chart from the non profit news website TexasTribune.org allows visitors to click on the bars for more information, filter by category, and view different data sets about the Texas School system. This interactive data set was compiled for journalistic reasons, but there’s no reason you couldn’t take this same approach for displaying data pulled from social media – say Twitter followers by region – or any other type of large data sets. A lot of these data sets are compiled by serious coders, but if that’s not you, don’t worry. Sites like Chartle or even Google’s Charts API allow for most anyone to create cool data sets with minimal coding experience.  For more interactive data sets check out thedailyviz.com.


Everyone’s used Google Maps to get around cities or plan a trip. But odds are, you’ve barely scratched the surface of what maps can do. Used in tandem with Google’s Fusion Tables, you can create large-scale interactive maps bursting with data as easily as you can create a spreadsheet.

NYCStalled.com uses Fusion Table’s maps function to show where construction in the Big Apple has stalled. Because they use Google Maps, most people are familiar with how to interact and navigate it. Also using fusion tables, you can create charts and graphs with the above mentioned Google Charts API. If you want to get really fancy with it, you can even have a chart that pops open a location on a map when you click on a specific type of data. For inspiration, Google has compiled a wide range of examples showing all the different features Fusion Tables allows users.

The tools are there for you to use, whether you’re a programmer or just someone who casually browses the web. All you need is a little inspiration, some know–how, and above all, good data.



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