Data visualization and storytelling


7 quick ways to upgrade your data visualizations

Sharing our top tips on how to best use Flourish to create compelling visualizations – without the stress

Getting started with data visualization can be overwhelming: You have to choose the right chart type, clean and wrangle your data, and work through loads of tiny design decisions. But sometimes, all you need to turn a simple chart from underwhelming to engaging are a few simple tricks.

By making thoughtful considerations about color, labels and interactivity, you can become the ultimate data storyteller. To make this step easier, here at Flourish we’ve compiled a few quick tips to help you take your data visualizations to the next level – without having to become an expert.

Tip #1: Sort bars from highest to lowest

Our first quick tip is to sort your bars from highest to lowest. This small step makes the ranking and comparison of bars much easier and improves the overall readability of the chart for your audience.

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Tip #2: Use descriptive titles

An easy step to make your data visualization more engaging is to focus on the story you are trying to tell. By adding a descriptive title, you can help people quickly see the main point of the data, keeping the content engaging and understandable.

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Here we’ve embedded two visualizations next to each other using our table template. You can check out how to embed charts side by side here.

Tip #3: Add annotations or labels

Another way to draw your readers into your narrative is to use annotations or labels. Annotations draw attention to key messages and emphasize elements that are relevant to the story you are trying to tell.

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In this chart, using line labels instead of a legend helps to distinguish between the information. In addition, it declutters the chart and makes it more understandable for your audience.

There are a few different ways of using labeling in Flourish to make your graphics easier to comprehend. Check out the following help docs to get started:

Tip #4: Add filters

By handing some of the control over to your audience, you can keep them involved in your story while allowing them to fully explore the data behind your chart. Adding a filter to a chart makes it possible to navigate between different breakdowns and metrics, driving progression through different perspectives of your data in a dynamic and engaging way.

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Check out these help docs to see how to add filters easily in Flourish:

Tip #5: Highlight your data

Another easy way to drive your narrative is to use highlighting to draw attention to the most important information and gray out the less important information, removing clutter and making the story understandable from a single glance.

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To find out how to highlight your data, check out the following help docs:

Tip #6: Shade between two lines (as a form of highlighting)

Another form of highlighting you can use is shading between two lines. This helps to draw further attention to the gap between two data points and really make it obvious, in a completely visual manner, what you are trying to convey to your audience with your data.

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Read this help doc to find out how to shade between two lines:

Tip #7: Use explanatory popups

Customizing your pop ups to explain what your data point means makes your visualization more understandable and provides further context to engage your audience. It is important to remember that while you have a clear understanding of your data, your audience might not have the same. Therefore, by adding explanatory details to your popups you can make sure the message you want to convey is understood clearly by all.

Compare the popups of the two visualizations below by hovering over them – which one provides more information?

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To find out how to customize your popups check out the help doc here:

In summary, you don’t need crazy coding skills or years of experience in data to make your data visualizations stand out from the crowd. Sometimes a few simple tricks are all you need to take your visualization from dull to dazzling.