Data Visualization

Understanding Data Visualization

The term Data Visualization loosely refers to the techniques used to communicate data or information by creating visual objects that are contained in graphics. The end goal is to communicate information clearly and efficiently to users via the information graphics selected, such as tables and charts. In his 1983 book “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”, Professor Edward Tufte defines ‘graphical displays’ and principles for effective graphical display in the following passage: “Excellence in statistical graphics consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency.” Graphical displays should:

  • Show the data
  • Induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production or something else
  • Avoid distorting what the data has to say
  • Present many numbers in a small space
  • Make large data sets coherent
  • Encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data
  • Reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure
  • Serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration

Graphics reveal data. Indeed graphics can be more precise and revealing than conventional statistical computations.  Data visualization is also referred to as infograpics, but both terms are interchangeable. In the enterprise business world, Data Visualization is used by all levels of management for high-level views of data. The main techniques of Data Visualization include:

  • Bar Graphs
  • Pie Charts
  • Histograms
  • Line Charts
  • Spark lines
  • Tree Maps
  • Mind Maps
  • Gantt Charts
  • Network diagrams
  • Animated Data Graphics

Below are images showing the different techniques associated with Data Visualization:

A Gantt chart showing three kinds of schedule dependencies (in red) and percent complete indications.

Gantt Chart
















Tree Graph showing the Exports of Uganda

Tree Graph








Mind Map of Guidelines

Mind Map








The key principles of Visualization include:



Picture 1Data Visualization is becoming more and more popular as companies are finding new ways to explore and display their data, what do you think? Any new ideas on what Data Visualization will bring to your data?