When it comes to making an impact and getting recognition in a business environment, the well-planned use of data visualization can be one of the best practices around. Smart dashboards that visually present clear and compelling insights literally draw the picture for your audience. They can underscore your message, connect the dots to what’s not obvious, and tell a story—your story—that people buy into.
And they can make you look good.
Poorly designed or boring presentations of data can obscure instead of highlight the key takeaways of your data. They can lose people’s attention, or worse, fail to guide them toward the valuable conclusions that you want to convey. But used wisely, dashboards with sophisticated data visualization can help you influence decision-makers, alert stakeholders to risk conditions, rally the team, or inform your audience. They can help you focus on what’s most important to your company and put everyone on the same page.
Representing data insights visually simply does everyone a favor any time that metrics, bottom-lines, trends, performance tracking, and forecasts need to be communicated quickly and effectively. It reveals visually the patterns and insights that cannot be absorbed in any other way. It enables decision makers to quickly grasp difficult concepts, identify new patterns, understand relationships between the variables at play, and gain the wisdom of the bigger picture.
What Can Data Visualization Do For You?
Using data visualization dashboards, you can craft your message and convey it powerfully. You’re not just presenting data—you’re presenting ideas, conclusions, and actionable items. With the right use of visual elements, you can distill insights from huge volumes of data for your audience to absorb almost instantaneously and be able to respond to. You can:
- Tell the story you see in your data
- Provide a clear picture of performance metrics
- Reduce confusion and contention among stakeholders
- Identify areas that need attention or improvement
- Clarify the factors that are helping or hindering production, sales, project development, and other areas of your business
- Forecast trends for you to act proactively
- Predict sales volumes, customer trends, inventory capacities, and more
Make The Impact You Want to Make
With the powerful tool of dashboard data visualization, you have the potential to reach your audience and make an impact. Here are strategies to get the results you seek:
Paint a clear picture and tell a story
Think of your data as telling a story. You’ve got metrics and analytics that lead to insights, all of which draw a picture of the performance of your business. Make sure that you are not leaving mixed messages that can leave your audience confused. Ensure that every metric and visualization you use is relevant, so viewers can easily draw the conclusion that you’re illustrating.
Begin at the end
While it’s somewhat counterintuitive, it is often best to start at the end when you are crafting your data story. Consider the conclusions, takeaways, and actionable steps you want your viewers to perceive, and line them up in ways that will make the most impact. Show your conclusions and not the process that got you there. What are the trends that you want to emphasize? What are the relevant comparisons you’re making and what are the results? The beauty of data visualization dashboards is that you can present your story with variety, interest, and a compelling presentation.
Support your message with filters
Use data filters to drill down and get a closer look at more narrow ranges of data than your entire data set. Choosing specific fields, number ranges, date ranges, or other filter options in your dashboards helps you focus your activities or message for your audience. It gives them a finer level of detail and restricts the data to content relevant to them. You can review, compare, and explore historical data; provide insights that pertain only to specific groups or projects; narrow the focus for answers and insights; contrast performance metrics within a date range; and maintain privacy and security for sensitive data.
Use the right visual indicators
Using the right data visualization tool can make all the difference in how effective your dashboards are to convey the most critical information. Tables are limited and are only effective with a relatively small number of data points. Simple line charts can work well for charting continuous data or progress over time. They’re great for showing trends, and you can add trend lines and benchmarks for comparison. Use bar charts to compare categories of data across one dimension. Use pie charts to show proportions compared to the whole, but don’t use them for more than five elements at a time, since they become too difficult to interpret quickly. Use a bar chart instead and add color to highlight the variables that have the most significant story to tell.
Use icons that pop
Use visualization elements and icons to make your key points and bottom-line arguments pop. Four of the most hard-working KPI visualization tools for dashboards are alert icons, trend icons, progress bars, and gauges.
- Alert icons combine simple shapes and color to convey a state. For example, green circles and red triangles can indicate whether something is online or offline, respectively.
- Trend icons, such as arrows and numbers, point out how a metric has behaved over time. You can also use color and shape to turn them into alert icon to make more of an impact.
- Progress Bars are visual indicators of progress towards a goal. By adding alert elements, you can show how close the metric is to limits and/or targets.
- Gauges are fun and quickly convey a metric along a spectrum. They lend themselves well to dynamic data that can change over time. Again, you can add alerts to quickly see how close it is to specific benchmarks.
Get The Recognition You Deserve
Your work might not speak for itself; decision-makers are usually too busy to notice the job you’re doing. Data visualization dashboards might be the smartest way to make sure that managers understand the effort you put into your job and the results you produce. With them, you can use real metrics to prove your high return on their investment.
Businesses often track non-quantitative, externally focused, and forward-looking metrics to manage things like speed, quality, and satisfaction of products and services. You can do the same to measure and prove your work performance. Start by capturing key metrics of your job on a frequent and regular basis. Begin with expectations, goals, and requirements for the job and track your progress. Include deadlines and timelines. Document your concrete actions, the completion of to-do items, and your reaching any milestones or deadlines. Include customer or client feedback, if possible.
Then measure how your actions match up to expectations. Which ones did you meet or exceed? Did you meet the goals you’ve been given on time? Use the power of data visualization tools to demonstrate the value and performance of your own work. And use the strategies above to convey your message with impact.
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