Chapter 11 Data Visualization Principles

What makes a data visualization successful? What principles should we adhere to? If we could establish guidelines to direct good visualization for representing financial data, what would be included in the list? To start, data visualizations should answer key questions from the perspective of the intended audience. Like a story, a visualization should provide a rich and unfolding perspective on the data that provides multiple answers to its audience members. It tells a factual story, fully embedded in the data: It should be clear and efficient—qualities that may at times be difficult to achieve. This chapter discusses three major data visualization principles in greater detail and grounds each principle with a list of guidelines and examples from previous chapters. The overarching recommendations we discuss include:

  • Cater to your audience—Focus on the audience, the purpose, and the storyline for each visualization. Know your audience well enough that you can anticipate the series of questions they will have of the data.
  • Provide clarity—Present the data with the utmost accuracy, transparency, and clarity. Be straightforward so that each visualization properly represents the data.
  • Be efficient—Strive to create effortless experiences for your audience. The visualization should work so that your audience doesn’t have to.

These data visualization principles expand on a traditional set of best practices for good visual design. Such best ...

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