On June 11, industry experts, data management practitioners and visionaries convened on Twitter to discuss trends in data visualization during our bi-weekly #IMChat. Whether you want to view the daily use of the MTA or the daily use of your company’s enterprise social media network, data viz can provide a picture that tells your data’s story. Still, there can be a disconnect between the data and the decision. 

Information Management Editor-in-Chief Julie Langenkamp-Muenkel (@JulieLangenkamp) moderated a lively chat which addressed all these questions and more, some of which is encapsulated below: 

When do you most appreciate visualizations? What kinds of information do you most prefer visually?

@WhitneyAEden: The simple, but humble table often works best

@TonyCarrini: Nearly every time @JulieLangenkamp. Especially when comparing prior year numbers.

@jgrecco13: Always. My clients are visual people. 

What makes visualizations effective? What features do you appreciate when creating or “consuming” them?

@LeeFeigenbaum: Is it even possible to consume information without a visualization? As @WhitneyAEden said, even a table of figures is a viz. 

@lewandog: Instantaneous understanding of results, and true insight. Good design, proper techniques, use of color and annotations for meaning

@IMJustinKern: Simplicity. A Pollack painting of data points does less for me than written descriptions, actually.

Along those lines, what are some fundamental design principles – do’s and don’ts – for data viz?

@jgrecco13: Remove extraneous data/visual elements and get to the point quickly. 

@JulieLangenkamp: 3D charts are typically a bad idea as are absurd comparisons (giant quantities of numbers)

@KevinTaylorNC: 3D should be removed in almost every case

@WhitneyAEden: Data visualization: So simple even a cat can comprehend it http://on.fb.me/11tmzKQ @flowingdata

@KevinTaylorNC: Pie Charts are typically not the best option, Donut chart is worse

@lewandog: @JulieLangenkamp Colors should mean something, careful of crying wolf w/ too much red or green...what about the color blind?

@jgrecco13: I've found bubble charts and histograms are received well for communicating activity over time.

@KevinTaylorNC: @tableau has a color blind palette

@JulieLangenkamp: Jonathan Schwabish recommends knowing the differences between exploratory & explanatory data visualizations.

‏@WhitneyAEden: If you're looking for a good resource for data viz, check out this GitHub: http://bit.ly/192xaTi (care of @dancow)

How do you determine what kinds of charts/graphs are the best choice to use for your data?

@jgrecco13: By a lower number of questions about what seems obvious. 

@WhitneyAEden: In data viz (and in life), I always refer back to K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid). Often you can do more with less 

@KevinTaylorNC: A lot depends on audience & delivery channel (i.e. power point vs interactive)

@KevinTaylorNC: Interactivity is important - ability to drill for more info & explore rather than just deliver predetermined info

How do you balance aesthetic/design choices with the end goal of helping people understand data?

@WhitneyAEden: You should be guided by this question: “Does this design choice support the comprehension of the data?” 

@KevinTaylorNC: Above all else, it must inform. Beauty can be an added bonus but should not be the goal

@NeilRaden: @WhitneyAEden @TonyCarrini @JulieLangenkamp Back in old days,we'd send it to graphics department, get it back in a few weeks 

@jgrecco13: The data viz needs to be consistent with the design of the presentation. However, as @WhitneyAEden said, K.I.S.S. 

What are important features to be aware and perhaps seek out with data viz tools? 

@jgrecco13: Ease of styling. The viz usually lives (should live) in an attractive document. 

@WhitneyAEden: If the UX of a data viz platform is horrible, that doesn't leave much hope for the actual output (i.e., data viz) 

‏@JulieLangenkamp: interactivity (graphs, maps, etc.) 

@KevinTaylorNC: Lack of Bling, some tools don't even have a 3D or shadow option. Want a tool with chart variety, i.e Treemaps, Network Maps, etc

@lewandog: @JulieLangenkamp Speed, data connectors, adherence to #dataviz principles, unlimited undo [fail fast to succeed faster]

Join us June 25th at 1PM ET for the next #IMChat.

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