Why should you use Data Visualisation on the Web?

Data Visualisation Sketch graphs

Data Visualisation can be seen all the over the web. It can be displayed in many different ways. Some uses may just present rudimentary charts, whereas others can appear to be styled in creative ways.

What is it?

So what exactly is data visualisation? Well, the general term data visualisation describes any effort that helps describe the significance of data in a visual format. This can be charts, graphs, statistics, tables and geometric shapes.

Data visualisation helps to inform the user of patterns, comparisons and scales that may not be as obvious from just reading the data.

Having the data presented visually increase the capabilities of user to understand it (“a picture says a thousand words!”). The user further processes this information to create his/her own decisions based on the data.

Show me examples

Why is it important?

Data Visualisation Laptop

As hinted at earlier, anyone using data visualisation can make a more informed decision from understanding that data. For a business, data-led decisions can have huge implications on profits and growth. Vital decisions being made from looking at visual data, spotting patterns and predicting where it will go next. Therefore, it is important to make interpretation of the data as user-friendly as possible.

This really could be any kind of metric including sales, stock, user retention etc. However, used creatively, data visualisation can depict overall growth of business, peaks and troughs of the financial year and much more.

Data visualisation can also be used to highlight important statistics that would otherwise be difficult to explain for anyone that is not closely involved of the inner working of a business or product.

Who is it useful for?

While the benefits for large business are evident, something that is perhaps overlooked is how beneficial data visualisation can be for smaller businesses. Providing the ability to make informed data based decisions at early stage can be key to maximising growth. 

Having realtime feedback of where your business stands in it early stages provides incredible value for those who are looking for predictions, patterns, comparisons etc.

Realtime data

Data can be static or in realtime. Static data represent datasets that do not change and are fixed. Whereas real-time data are ever changing and are constantly receiving live updates. As a result of these live updates the data will dynamically change. This is perhaps the most valuable aspect of data visualisation for a business or product.

Multiple studies have been conducted regarding how real-time data assist major firms to come to a final verdict regarding important decisions.

Real time data visualisation enables decision makers or viewers to have the most up to date information either for observation purposes or to make time-sensitive decisions based on that information.

When combined with user input, real-time data can become incredibly beneficial for organisations to analyse the latest information, as well as for users to contribute their input. This input is in turn reflected instantaneously through the visual medium used to display that input.

Organisations feel more confident in their decisions when they know they are fact-driven, as opposed to when they are relying on their own instinct or intuition.

How can I use it?

There are a few considerations that should be take into account when thinking of using data visualisation.

  • What data am I trying to highlight/indicate?
  • Is the data static or in real-time?
  • Will the user have input?
  • Will the dataset be interactive?

Once you know what your dataset is, it is equally as important to know how you want to depict it.

Here are some basic chart formats that most simple dataset can use:

Bar Chart

Bar Chart Data Visualisation

Line Chart

Line Chart Data Visualisation

Pie Chart

Pie Chart Data Visualisation

Donut Chart

Donut Chart Data Visualisation

Scatter Chart

Scatter Chart Data Visualisation

Please note that these are the most basic forms of data visualisation and their complexity can increase according to the shape of your data.

User Input

Perhaps, one of the most important decisions when creating a data visualisation page is whether or not the user can to interact with it, or alter it?

Take an example of this energy recycling dashboard.

It is a real-time data fed dashboard where the user can highlight on the scatter nodes for further information.

Its informative and constantly updated while still giving interactivity to the user. Its value is evident from combining those three aspects

  • Real-time
  • Interactivity
  • Relevant Data

Think about how you would apply the same metrics to your business or product?

Here are some user input concepts that you might consider:

  • Can the user filter data by certain criteria (e.g category)?
  • Can the user can highlight points of interest for further details?
  • Is the dashboard in real-time?
  • Are the metrics displayed likely to be understood to the user?

These are all important considerations when trying to make your data valuable. With all this mind, its important to remember that while not all data are inherently useful, the ability to traverse through the information in a specific dataset is key to making vital business decisions.

I intend to cover for specific topics of data visualisation. Specifically, on how it is implemented on the web . In the next topic I want to focus in on real-time data visualisation. In the meantime, if you are interested in adding data visualisation to your business or product you can get in touch here



Gareth Dunne

Full Stack Developer and creator of JSdiaries. Passionate about the latest in web technologies and how it can provide value for my clients.