Top 5 data visualization tools

Useful graphics tools that give meaning to information

Young man has presentation with graph on lcd screen

Graphics are useful for many things, including helping provide context and meaning to information that is otherwise hard to interpret if it were written in just words. They help make concepts that are otherwise rather dull when just written in text form a bit more interesting and attention-grabbing. This visual form of communication is often considered “art with a purpose”. It’s a visual that also conveys specific information about the surrounding text.

There are a variety of advanced graphics that help add meaning to text, however, when most people think of graphics they immediately think of PowerPoint presentations. While PowerPoint presentations are a great way to help add visuals to text presentations and can help enhance the viewer’s experience, there are also a variety of other graphics that can help depict various concepts and ideas.

We are going to examine five of those graphics systems or programs that are not your typical PowerPoint that can still help depict a complex concept or concept in a more visual way.

Timeline

Timeline is a graphic that provides an open-source tool for anyone to create a visually-rich and interactive timeline. All the user will need to create their timeline is a Google spreadsheet. These timelines can also be uploaded to a variety of different websites and media sources.

Timeline works best with stories that already have a strong chronological narrative. This graphic works best with story lines that do not jump between [chronological] events too frequently. Timeline allows a chronologically occurring story to be paired with a physical timeline that gives the viewer the visual aspect of the events that occurred. This is accomplished through slides that the viewer will click through. The slides are accompanied by information about that slide. The added pictures and other visuals helps the reader visualize what they would otherwise just be reading in a block of text.

Accompanying pictures and dates provide a stronger correlation between the events and the time-frame in which they occurred. However, it is recommended to limit the amount of information provided to a reader in one timeline (no more than 20 slides to a timeline) in order to keep the amount of information more “digestible”. Timeline works best when each slide is written as part of a larger [chronological] story or narrative.

StoryMap

StoryMap is a visual tool that helps tell stories on the web that occur at a specific location or at multiple locations through the use of a map. These stories usually occur in a specific town or city and can be shown through the StoryMap to add a visual to the verbal narrative. StoryMap can show locations that are applicable to the accompanying story or text that is on the surrounding webpage.

StoryMaps does more than just mark key cities or towns that the reader should note. It also shows visuals for names, specific addresses or latitudes that need to be marked on the map. Other visuals can also be added to these maps such as photographs, works of art, historic maps or other image files. You will need to use “gigapixels” to set these graphics up. This will mean that you will have to host files on your server.

Woman giving presentation in conference room

Piktochart

Piktochart offers another alternative to creating infographics for those who wish not to use the confusing software that many other programs require. There are no designer fees either, so using Picktochart can save you money as well. The program is easy to use so it can help add the visual to your story and make the story easier to tell.

Presentations are here as you have never seen them before. There are a variety of different layouts and designs, so there is something that can meet every users needs. The program also lets you add slides that can be printed off in a variety of different mediums including posters, flyers, or reports. This way, you can deliver the information to anyone how may need it. This helps people who were at the meeting remember the information later on and allows people to read the information even if they may not have been able to attend the meeting.

Gephi

Gephi is one of the leading visualization and exploration software programs that offers a variety of graphs and networks. Gephi is open-source and is free to use. Gephi runs on a variety of platforms including Windows and Max OS X as well as Linux. Gephi is a tool that data analysts and scientists are using when they want to explore and understand the hidden patterns of graphs in a more thorough way. Gephi can help the users interact with representations, manipulate the structures/shapes/colors, and can help reveal hidden patterns. This will help the data analysts discover hidden patterns while also being able to isolate structure singularities and faults that may occur while data is being sourced. This tool acts in a complementary manner to traditional statistics.

Gephi can support up to 10,000 nodes and 1000 edges and will offer the user meaningful tools to help them with graph manipulation. This provides data analysts with the fastest graphing visualization speeds that are available to help speed up the pattern discovery in large graphs.

word cloud

WordClouds

WordClouds.com is a free word cloud generator and tag cloud creator. This works on your PC, tablet, or smartphone. Users can paste text, upload a document, or even open a URL to automatically generate a word or tag cloud. Users can customize shapes, themes, colors, or fonts to meet their needs and tastes. Users will be able to edit their word list, cloud size, and gap size to name a few things that will be able to be reset and selected. Users can save results and share them with others online when they are satisfied with the results.

These are just a few different and unique graphics tools that can take the place of your traditional, typical PowerPoint Presentation visuals. Providing different visuals can help the audience understand the story line more clearly and allow them to comprehend what they are reading through offering visual stimulation along with the written word.

Graphics have come a long way

While the graphics discussed in this post are far from your traditional PowerPoint presentations. These graphics all have different strengths but all provide a way to show visuals alongside text to help people interpret the written word. Exploring a variety of different graphics can help reach new audiences and help reinforce and build an understanding of the topics or story at hand.

Give some of these options a try the next time you want to break the mold of your typical PowerPoint. These graphics will help engage your readers in new ways while helping them to understand the concepts that are being presented.

For more information on how to use these graphics tools in your work or for others ways to help your readers comprehend your written message, please feel free to contact us.