Data visualisation is simple

Here’s a really simple 3 step guide to creating a data visualisation:

1. Choose your data set

2. Upload your data set

3. Choose your visualisation type

There are various free online data visualisation engines which you can use and will walk you through this 3 step process. I like IBM Many Eyes which is also preferred by the brilliant Guardian Data Blog.


The percentage of women (20-24 yrs of age) who were married by age 15, UNICEF, 2012

Here‘s an example of a data visualisation (right) I made using UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report.

The image on the right is a screen print – the interactive version is here.

If evidence has the power to change policy then let’s make it as easy to understand. Not everyone is a visual person, some prefer written or oral evidence. But for those who are visual this certainly makes these dry but important stats easier to grasp.

How to use your visualisation

Datablog embed their visualisation (by copying an embedding code that the IBM site gives you) and this means the visualisation is interactive whilst being embedded within the article keeping stats crucially in context with interpretation.

However embedding is bit more techie and requires the reader to have a Java plug in on their browser (which many people do without knowing).

Alternatively to keep it simple, why not just create an image out of the visualisation, as I’ve done here, by ‘printing your screen’ (top right of your keyboard: PrntScrn). Pop it into Paint to crop. I’m a big advocate for the simple low tech options that most people have – Paint has been on all Microsoft based computers under Accessories for over a decade. If this is still too much you can crop images in Word too.

Extra notes

In terms of the data, the UNICEF original data set is here and contains more info about the populations and how the data was collected as well as a host of other mind opening statistics about the actual state of children.

When choosing your data from your potentially large set of data, reduce to the 2 or 3 columns of data which illustrate your point. Bubbles (above) work for 2 columns of data (countries, percentages) but other visualisation types are better for showing relationships between data points e.g. network diagrams. IBM Many Eyes also can display your data on a world map of countries.

If you would like help with this or just want to throw your data at someone and see visualisations pop out then do be in touch.


2 responses to “Data visualisation is simple

  1. Pingback: Register Visual Learning | bmengi·

  2. hello!,I love your writing so so much! share we keep in touch extra about your article on AOL? I require a specialist in this area to resolve my problem. Maybe that is you! Having a look forward to see you.

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