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Key Components of Data Visualization

Data visualizations are a powerful tool for communicating engaging narratives and complex ideas. There are several critical components you should consider during the process of planning for and designing your data visualization to ensure that you’re achieving success. Data visualizations can be fun and interactive, interesting and thought-provoking, engaging and shareable. However, they sometimes end up being confusing, unintuitive and lacking in narrative focus. When developing visualization concepts, it is particularly important to have a clear understanding and strategy in several key areas. 

Your Purpose 

Why are you doing this? What does your organization hope to achieve? What do you want your audiences to do in response to your data visualization project? What about your data visualization that will motivate and inspire your audiences to take action? Clearly articulating a project’s value brings clarity to the process of designing and developing content. This also helps you make deliberate decisions about how content will function and the user journeys your audiences will take while experiencing the data visualization. 

Your Story

What is your data visualization communicating? What are the trends you want your audiences to understand? What is the narrative you will communicate or support? What should your audiences better understand after experiencing your data visualization project? A focused narrative will bring focus to your data visualization project. Planning upfront for the story and information your data visualization allows your team to make decisions during the design and development stages about where to place emphasis, provide context, and drive audiences toward actions. 

Your Data

What data will you be using to create your visualization? Where does it exist and what format is it in? Is it in a usable state or will it require manipulation and/or normalization? What type of visualization does your data support and how should it be delivered? Data plays a significant role in the development of your visualization project including shaping the story, dictating elements of design and presentation, and determining the appropriate implementation approach. With a strong grasp on the data and information that will drive and power the data visualization, you will be able to make informed decisions about the format, interactivity/functionality, and design throughout the project.  Further resources

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