Visualization Rules. Provide Information Correctly. Part 2

You can read about the first rules in the previous article.

Rule #6. Do Not Overload with Information

Do not try to fit all the information you have on one chart for the sake of making your schedule seem smart and significant. Visual series should not be overloaded with complex and multilevel diagrams.

When it is necessary to visualize many different types of data and categories, it is more appropriate to divide a diagram into several parts. For example, if there are more than four or five lines on a linear chart or there are more than two categories on a bar chart, you should not put them on one diagram.

Rule #7. Clear Number Format

Numbers should be with delimiters and without superfluous signs after a comma, otherwise, they become unreadable.

Make sure that there is one format. If you decide to show one character after the decimal point, then do so for all the data signatures, and not selectively: somewhere two characters, somewhere three, and somewhere without a single character.

Rule #8. Name and Signatures

A diagram should have a title and a complete legend, otherwise, there is a risk of misinterpretation.

Period and units of measurement should always be understandable. Do not expect that a reader of your chart will guess this from the context. To make sure that data is correctly interpreted, put yourself in reader's shoes and remember that he or she sees your chart for the first time. Everything should be very clear, a reader should not have any doubts about interpretation of data presented.

Remember that your task when creating charts and diagrams is to simplify perception of data, and not cause unnecessary questions.

Rule #9. Generally Accepted Color Solutions

Do not violate the generally accepted use of a particular color.

There are several basic categories that we always associate with a certain color:

  • positive and negative values – green and red;
  • yes/no, agree/disagree – green and red;
  • men and women – blue and pink;
  • other/no answer/difficult to answer – gray color.

If you show category data on diagrams in the expected color gamut, a reader does not even need to look at the legend, all is clear without it. Do not disregard this rule, it is very simple and logical, but on the Internet, there are often examples of its ignoring.

There is a good method of the use of a color to compare indicators of the current year and the past one – to make the past year paler, and the current one more vivid. Moreover, it is better to show both years in shades of the same color, because it is about the same indicator.

Rule #10. Minimum Types of Diagrams

Use one kind of chart for the same type of data.

Avoid diversity for the sake of diversity.

It is not always beautiful, but always useless. For one-type data, it is better to choose one kind of chart.

For example, when you show consistently answers to research questions or sales dynamics for several stores, do not include fantasy, use charts of the same type. A reader needs time to get used to every new kind of diagram and figure out what this or that line, circle or bar means.

Rule #11. Uniform Color Palette

Visual elements (graphs, diagrams, charts) should be performed in a single-color scheme throughout the entire study or report.

If it is about a research company, then the color palette should be unified in all studies, in order to comply with the corporate style. If you supplement your report with graphs from other studies, they need to be redrawn, otherwise, they will spoil perception. First, they certainly have a different color scheme, and secondly, often the quality of pictures is not the best and it immediately catches your eye.

Redrawing of a diagram in the company’s style will take only 10-20 minutes, and the report will look more complete. Thus, it is you who will intuitively be perceived as an information creator and expert, even if you specify another source of data, which, incidentally, must always be done.

Do not ignore these simple, but very important visualization rules. Take care of your readers. No one likes to feel stupid by looking at obscure or heaped charts and diagrams.

And did you not ask the question at the sight of strange diagrams at conferences or meetings: "Am I the one who is so unimaginative to not understand anything?". Believe, you are not alone!

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