Chapter 1 Data Visualization: A Primer

This book is about real-world dashboards and why they succeed. In many of the scenarios, we explain how the designers use visualization techniques to contribute to that success. For those new to the field, this chapter is a primer on data visualization. It provides enough information for you to understand why we picked many of the dashboards. If you are more experienced, this chapter recaps data visualization fundamentals.

Why Do We Visualize Data?

Let's see why it's vital to visualize numbers by beginning with Table 1.1. There are four groups of numbers, each with 11 pairs. In a moment, we will create a chart from them, but before we do, take a look at the numbers. What can you see? Are there any discernible differences in the patterns or trends among them?

Table 1.1 Table with four groups of numbers: What do they tell you?

Group A Group B Group C Group D
x y x y x y x y
10.00
8.04
10.00
9.14
10.00
7.46
8.00
6.58
8.00
6.95
8.00
8.14
8.00
6.77
8.00
5.76
13.00
7.58
13.00
8.74
13.00
12.74
8.00
7.71
9.00
8.81
9.00
8.77
9.00
7.11
8.00
8.84
11.00
8.33
11.00
9.26
11.00
7.81
8.00
8.47
14.00
9.96
14.00
8.10
14.00
8.84
8.00
7.04
6.00
7.24
6.00
6.13
6.00
6.08
8.00
5.25
4.00
4.26
4.00
3.10
4.00
5.39
19.00
12.50
12.00
10.84
12.00
9.13
12.00
8.15
8.00
5.56
7.00
4.82
7.00
7.26
7.00
6.42
8.00
7.91
5.00
5.68
5.00
4.74
5.00
5.73
8.00
6.89

Let me guess: You don't really see anything clearly. It's too hard.

Before we put the ...

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