Why is IKEA so successful?
…Okay, great meatballs and mediocre sawdust is the real answer, but at least a bit of their sweet sweet furniture takeover included their pictograph instructions!
Face it, as a species, we’re not great at visualizing data. You can tell someone how much more a billion is than a million, but what REALLY illuminates the point is illustrated data like these graphics from the good folks at the MegaPenny Project.
See, here’s a million in pennies.
That’s about… one extra friend who has a pickup, a pizza with three toppings, and an Epsom salt bath worth of moving?
And here’s a billion.
That… requires a fleet of professionals with Class A Commercial Drivers’ Licenses. And you’d probably need to let them use your Epsom salts too.
So as we move into a brand new year, how do we GET better at data illustration? I always stood by the idea of finding someone with equal parts mathematical and design capability to live in my house (graphics arts nerds, slide into my DMs, please and thanks).
But for those of us with companies to run and reasonable expectations, there’s data visualization software out there!
Niel Patel was nice enough to shout out a few different services for us, and I definitely appreciate his list of what to look for when you’re looking! I paraphrased him a little here:
Visualization Capabilities – How pretty do you want it, and what does sexy data look like for you?
This category was further broken down into the types of visualization you may need for different species of presentation:
- Simple Charts and Graphs: Lines, Pies, and Bars (but the GOOD for you kind).
- Infographics: Sleek n’ sultry shareables, with the easiest viral capability…and the greatest amount of art theft.
- Interactive Visualizations: Lets the viewer manipulate the data, enter different parameters, zoom and enhance, and generally play god.
- Business Intelligence Tools: Super complex data shredders. If you need to turn a forest of multi-sourced info into an insight smoothie, you gotta bring out the BIT guns.
Connectivity – What existing file types does it work with, and how much of a pain in the butt will migrating be?
Skill Requirements – What do you need of the people working it? Interns or certification holders?
Mobile Compatibility – Is this toilet scrolling data, or boardroom only data?
Helpful, no? Google Sheets, as anyone who’s worked with me in person can attest, is my mortal enemy, so taking data out of its probably-not-that-confusing-if-I-really-tried clutches makes me happy.