Visualizing Your Data

The writers of Tripwire Magazine, featured in an earlier resource post , collected over 50 assorted tools and methods to help you present your data visually. Now, lest visions of pie graphs and death by PowerPoint put you off, wait just a bit.

Forged by evolution, we’re a visual race, and living in these modern times we tend to take this aspect of ours for granted, casually ignoring all the in-your-face-advertising and screaming messages that assault our senses every day.

Just like we use filters to weed out spam on-line, we learn very quickly to filter out the thousands of pushy messages we’re targeted with, in sheer mental self-defense.

How do we do this? We zero in and focus in very short blips when we need to.

Results: A forcibly shorter attention span and a generally diffused focus (we usually don’t see anything out of the ordinary, unless a) we pay attention or b) something jumps out and waves at us).

It’s the “Ooh, shiny!” magpie moment. If it doesn’t look interesting, pass on, pass on…It’s the rare person who can take the time to throttle back and take a second (or third), closer look, what with all the stuff competing for their attention.

How does this affect you and your business?
You need to get your point across in the span of those blips. And since we are evolved magpies now, ahem, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And that’s a heck of a lot more than Twitter gives you.

Admit it, we like our data in neat, bite-sized chunks. It makes it easier to digest. And in getting your message across, it’s all about making it easier for your customers, your audience, to get it. Get it?

Tripwire’s post introduces you to a very wide range of tools you can use with basic CSS skills (among others, like Flash) , and even common web-based tools. You can check out what seems useful or interesting, invest in the time to practice with your chosen method, and voila! You just added a new skill-set to your repertoire.

You can also carry-over that learning, that understanding of the particulars needed to translate numbers and statistics into an easily understood visual image, into other fields and not just online, for PowerPoint presentations or for graphing purposes.

This practiced skill of translating numbers and data sets into something applicable, easily understood and useful to real-life decision-making is invaluable. So go ahead and take a try. You won’t lose anything by giving it a shot.

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