Creative Methods to Visualize Your Data

Last Updated Aug 31, 2007 3:08 PM EDT

Creative Methods to Visualize Your DataGuy Kawasaki, managing director of the early-stage venture capital firm Garage Technology Ventures and author of eight business books, notes on his blog today that in the ten years he's been listening to entrepreneurs pitch their companies, only two have ever used a creative technique to visualize their data.
Every other one either (a) used no graphics at all; (b) used a 2 x 2 matrix and guess what: they're always in the upper right corner; or (c) used a matrix and guess what: they're always the column with the most checked-off stuff.
That's pretty uninspiring, and probably not unrepresentative of visual presentations of data as a whole. But the dismal state of these pitches also presents managers with an opportunity. Those who are creative with their visual aids will really stand out against such a dull background. So if you're looking to kick your data visualizations up a notch, Kawasaki points his readers towards an article in Smashing Magazine with the straight forward title "Data Visualization: Modern Approaches."

The article lists examples of creative approaches to presenting information that are elegant, arresting and conceptually powerful, along with resources and tools to help managers utilize these ideas in their presentations:

  1. Mind maps -- For example, Information Architects Web Trend Map 2007.
  2. Displaying news -- Among other tools presented is Voyage, an RSS-reader which allows you to zoom in and out and navigate via a time line.
  3. Displaying data -- Check out Time Magazine's population density map or Hans Rosling's TED talk which uses software, recently acquired by Google, to present statistics in a dynamic way.
  4. Displaying connections -- An example is Musiclens, which represents your current musical taste visually and offers recommendations.
  5. Displaying websites -- One elegant presentation tool is Spacetime which shows Google, Yahoo, Flickr, eBay and images in 3D.
  6. Articles & Resources -- Visual Complexity offers a gallery of over 450 creative data visualization solutions.
  7. Tools & Services --A list of resources to help create your own visualizations.
The next time you have to present data, rather than settle for the traditional pie chart or bar graph, perhaps consider making an impression with one of these beautiful, modern methods of visualizing your information. If Kawasaki's experience is any indication, the extra effort will probably pay off with a presentation that sticks in the minds of your listeners.

(Image of Trendmap by ottonassar, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.