BUS607 Study Guide

Unit 6: Creating Effective Visualizations

6a. Examine visualization best practices for different audiences

  • How do visualizations make large amounts of data easier to understand?
  • How do visualizations reveal data at several levels of detail from a broad overview to the fine structure?

Well-crafted data visualizations not only present data in easily understood images, but when done well, they enable the viewer to quickly perceive insights they may have missed if presented in summary tables and spreadsheets. A good data visualization does not only convert large amounts of data into images, but when done well, it engages the viewer and tells a story.

Well-crafted visualizations present complex ideas or results and communicate them with clarity, precision, and efficiency. Visualizations should:

  • Show the data
  • Have the viewer on the substance instead of the methodology
  • Avoid distorting the data
  • Present many numbers in a small space
  • Make large data sets easier to understand
  • Present the data at several levels of detail, from a high-level overview to a deep data dive

To review, see Data Visualization.

6b. Identify why creating effective visualizations is an iterative process

  • Why are data visualizations essential for exploratory data analysis and data mining?
  • How do presentation graphics and exploratory graphics differ?

With the advent of better software, faster processors, and cheaper memory, it has become easier to create and iterate visualizations. With this power comes responsibility, as it is very important to create good visualizations that clearly articulate the point the analyst is trying to make. Visualizations can be effective or ineffective, which can generate very strong feelings either way.

Data visualizations are useful for data cleaning, exploring data structure, detecting outliers and unusual groups, identifying trends and clusters, spotting local patterns, evaluating modeling output, and presenting results. It is essential for exploratory data analysis and data mining to check data quality and to improve an analyst's familiarity with the structure and features of the data before them.

Presentation graphics are usually a select number of graphics created for any number of people and need to be well-designed and well-created with an effective explanatory text, either verbally or textually. They are used to convey known or summarized information.

Exploratory graphics can include several graphics created for an individual such as yourself. They don't need to be perfect but provide alternate views and additional information.

To review, see Importance of Data Visualization.

6c. Explain how data visualizations can be used to tell stories

  • Why is reducing the need for an audience to interpret the key to creating an effective presentation?
  • How are linear, user-directed, parallel, and random-access storytelling different?

Reducing the need for the audience to interpret the findings in a visualization is the key to an effective presentation. This can be accomplished by the type of chart used or by highlighting key points through color choices.

Storytelling has been a useful tool to communicate information and knowledge over time. Using visualizations to tell a story with data helps make the information more concise and memorable. The most effective storytelling helps the audience reach the right conclusion and take the appropriate action.

The sequence or order of events makes a big difference in storytelling and refers to the path the viewer is taken through in the visualization. Stories can be presented in a number of ways, including:

  • Linear, where the story sequence path is linear in order and is prescribed by the author
  • User-directed, where the user selects a path from alternatives or creates their own path
  • Parallel, where several paths can be visualized or followed at the same time
  • Random access, where there is no prescribed path. This is more commonly referred to as an 'overview' path.

To review, see Presenting Data and Storytelling and Visualization.

Unit 6 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes the terms that you will need to know to successfully complete the final exam.

  • clarity
  • efficiency
  • exploratory graphics
  • linear storytelling
  • parallel storytelling
  • precision
  • presentation graphics
  • random access storytelling
  • sequence
  • storytelling
  • user-directed path storytelling
  • visualization