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Looking for the best data visualization examples to inspire your own?
In this post, we’ve put together a list of amazing data visualization examples created by top designers and companies, including BBC and Nikon.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Data visualization is the graphical representation of data or information. Visualizing data with the help of charts, graphs, maps or dashboards can make it easier to understand statistical numbers and identify patterns within the data.
So, why is data visualization important? Here's why.
We’re literally drowning in data. Everyday, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. This is the equivalent of 90% of the world’s information--created in the last two years alone.
Now this is what we call “big data.” We have more data than we know what to do with, so it’s time now to organize and make sense of it all.
This is where data visualization comes into the picture. In the seismic shift awaiting us, referred by some as the Industrial Revolution of Data, we have to get better and more efficient at creating innovative data visualization that make the complex easy to understand.
In the hopes of inspiring your own work, we’ve compiled 15 data visualizations that will not only blow your mind, they will also give you a clearer understanding of what makes a good visualization--and what makes a bad one.
Data visualization can take many different shapes and forms.
In this section, we’ll take a look at the various types of data visualization that are commonly used by all kinds of professionals, marketers, educators, researchers and students.
Charts represent information in a graphical format. This information could be numerical or text-based, and can be represented in the form of a graph, table or diagram.
Some popular charts types include:
Charts are used in virtually every field, and shared in both print and digital form. They are excellent tools for making data understandable, and make it easier for readers to identify patterns, trends and relationships within data sets.
Graphs are very specific types of charts. Their primary purpose is to graphically represent numerical or quantitative data so it’s easier to understand.
There are many different types of graphs. The graph that you choose to use should depend on the nature of your data and the purpose of your visualization.
Below is a summary of the most common types of graphs:
Bar graphs, or bar charts, are used to compare discrete sets of data.
For example, you can use a bar graph to show the average salaries of men and women in the United States, or the average smartphone sales of different brands in the year 2021.
Bar graphs can be horizontal or vertical, depending on the data and design needs.
Line graphs, or line charts, are used to visualize data that changes over time or with changes in temperature.
For example, you can use a line graph to show the growth of a country’s GDP over the last ten years, or the number of viral infection cases registered depending on the average temperature.
More commonly known as pie charts, circle graphs are used to represent parts of a whole. Each “slice” in a pie chart depicts a part, and all the slices in a pie chart add up to the whole.
Pie charts are mostly used to visualize demographics or population characteristics, and can get cluttered when there are too many “slices” in a data set.
Another type of data visualization is a map, which you can use to depict geographic or location-based information.
For example, you can use an interactive map to show the distribution of COVID-19 cases in the United States, similar to how the map template below does:
Other ways to use maps include highlighting countries or regions in the world with the help of different colors.
This type of map visualization is also called a Choropleth map. Below is a Choropleth map template you can customize for your own use.
Infographics are excellent tools for visualizing data and text-based information. They can be printed, shared on social media or added within blog posts.
Here’s an example of an infographic template that visualizes data:
What makes infographics so special is they are incredibly versatile and can work with almost any type of data in virtually every field.
For example, you can create an informational infographic listing the symptoms of COVID-19, or a research infographic summarizing the most important statistics on presentations.
People love to share infographics because they’re visually appealing, can pack a whole lot of information into a single graphic, and can drive traffic to your website.
Dashboards use a variety of charts, graphs, radials and progress bars to visualize data related to a particular topic in one place.
You might come across dashboards in the analytics sections of marketing, sales and other business software.
Here’s an example of what a dashboard can look like:
Dashboards can be very useful for summarizing key metrics and providing an overview of performance or progress. They’re sort of like digital, visual reports you can create for practically any topic or purpose.
Visme lets you create dashboards of your own with the help of customizable data widgets, such as radials, progress bars, thermometers, gauges and more.
Last but not least, tables are effective data visualization tools for presenting any kind of data in an organized way.
They’re widely used in research papers and journals, and can even be used as part of your documents or infographics — provided that they’re designed to look clean and attractive.
Here’s an example of a table used in one of our document templates:
Tables are plainer than most other data visualization types, but can sometimes be the right way to go if you want to display data in a simple and professional manner.
It combines reams of data into a single page; it uses color to easily distinguish trends; it allows the viewer to get a global sense of the data; it engages users by allowing them to interact with the piece; and it is surprisingly simple to understand in a single glance.
The Year in News is a good example of how an expertly executed data visualization can reveal patterns and trends hiding beneath the surface of mountains of data. By analyzing 184.5 million Twitter mentions, Echelon Insights was able to provide a bird’s eye view of what America was talking about in 2014.
As another example, the team at classic gaming site Solitaired began visualizing engagement data based on the total number of solitaire games played. Through these visualizations, they immediately saw that users who played 3 solitaire games or more had a strong likelihood of being repeat visitors.
This U.S. age pyramid created by the Pew Research Center is a noteworthy example of how shifts and trends over time can be effectively communicated through the use of well-executed animation.
Not only does this type of data visualization pack a whole lot of information into a single visual--23 bar charts were combined into a single GIF composite--it can be easily shared on social media and embedded anywhere.
With so many data visualizations out there nowadays, it can be hard to find a unique angle that hasn’t been explored already. Not the case, though, with this wonderfully imaginative series of infographics created by designer Marion Luttenberger.
Using real-life images as the basis of his infographics, Luttenberger was able to craft an entire annual report for an organization that provides aid to drug addicts in Austria — and still communicate the organization’s mission clearly and effectively.
An effective way to communicate complex ideas is by using symbols and metaphors. Take, for example, this ambitious data visualization of the Internet created by Ruslan Enikeev.
By using the metaphor of planets in a solar system, Enikeev is able to create a “Map of the Internet” that helps users visualize the relative reach and influence of every site out there. The amount of website traffic, for example, is represented by the size of the circle on the map.
One of the great strengths of data visualizations is their unsurpassed ability to put isolated pieces of information into a bigger context.
The goal of this insightful interactive piece by Nikon is to give users a sense of the size of objects, both big and small, by using comparisons. Next to the Milky way, for example, a common object such as a ball or a car seem smaller than we ever imagined.
Another hallmark of an effective data visualization is its ability to summarize a ton of information and, in the process, save you time and effort. This data visualization, for instance, represents 100 years of the evolution of rock music in a single page.
Not only does it simplify information for you — condensing a century’s worth of information into a piece that can be viewed in less than a minute — it also provides actual audio samples for each genre, from electronic blues to dark metal.
As humans, we cannot help but see the Universe and life from our own self-centered and completely unique point-of-view.
This data visualization, however, gives us some perspective on our own lives — and the events of the current day — by placing them in the larger context of time, up to the current millennium.
In line with the objective of making the complex easy to understand, this infographic provides a visual representation of a coffee bean’s journey, from bean to cup.
By breaking the process down into parts, this data visualization does its job of giving the reader bite-sized pieces of information that are easily digestible.
A good infographic will not only do the hard work of digesting complex data, it may also stimulate readers’ imagination by allowing them to conjure up different hypothetical situations and possibilities, as is done in this example.
By presenting an interactive, game-like experience, this infographic by BBC quickly engages the user and keeps them interested from beginning to end.
This infographic by the GED project takes dense material, such as indicators and figures, and presents it in a beautiful, clean and captivating format.
Not only is the design deceptively simple and functional, it also provides the user with many options for interacting with the graphic, such as adding countries, indicators and type of relation.
An effective data visualization not only conveys information in a convincing manner, it also narrates a story worth telling. This interactive data visualization by Pitch Interactive, for example, tells the story of every known drone strike and victim in Pakistan.
By distilling information into an easily understandable visual format, this infographic dramatically brings to light disturbing facts that should not go unnoticed.
This data visualization by Information is Beautiful not only has all of the previous qualities mentioned, it also allows the user to have direct access to all the original raw data.
Also, by using bubbles shaped in accordance with the size of the data breach, the viewer can get a solid overview of the data breach “landscape.”
And if viewers want to get into the details of the information, they can also go as deep or as superficially as they want by navigating the different filters and raw data.
In line with the global trend of democratizing access to information and empowering users, this data visualization by The New York Times does an excellent job of demystifying the process of balancing the national budget. By placing budget balancing in the hands of everyday users, this project taps into the power of collective thinking to solve big problems.
This piece goes beyond a common data visualization to become an educational and interactive minisite. By combining enough data and information to fill an encyclopedia into a single interactive application, this data visualization becomes a useful classroom tool for students learning about wind, ocean and weather conditions.
Interactive data visualizations are unique in that they appeal to several of the five senses: to the sense of hearing through audio, the sense of sight through stunning visuals and the sense of touch through the interactive experience of clicking, hovering and scrolling through content.
While you may think that data visualizations are too costly and time consuming to produce on your own, you can explore several free tools out there that allow non-designers and non-programmers to create their own interactive content.
Visme, for example, is an online tool that allows you to create interactive charts, graphs and maps. Sign up for a free account today and start visualizing data in creative and engaging ways.
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