This is how to deal with visualization urges: 6 tips for designing visualizations

By Douwe Horst

Because visualizations within organizations can be created in many ways, the search for the right form is on. Design choices affect the outcome. The content may be seemingly identical, while a powerful design ensures that the message is better understood or comes across better. The following 6 tips will help in the choice of design. 

Tip 1: Choose a clear target audience for the visualization. 

A director does not want complex Excel sheets, while others want to study the details. Therefore, match the message to the target audience. If the target group is organization-wide make sure it is accessible to everyone and keep it as simple as possible. 

Tip 2: Choose the setting in which the visualization should land. 

Is it a report from tooling, the report and presentation of a study, a communication message, a drawing on whiteboard/flip chart, a supplement to a quotation, etc., the setting gives direction to the design. A communication message should only be about the message, while a visualization in a quotation should be visually appealing and also support content. 

Tip 3: The art of omission. 

Ask whether it is really necessary to present certain information. The more information is left out the more focus there is for what is left. This makes a discussion much more specific and gets people thinking in a more focused way. 

Tip 4: Within visualizations, use figures instead of text. 

If, within a visualization, a word or phrase can be replaced with a figure, it is easier to understand and sticks better. This works the opposite way if the chosen figure is not sufficiently clear, then discussion and ambiguity will arise. 

Tip 5: Provide overview within the field of view. 

For example, an infographic fits into one page, but if there is a lot on it, the message is lost. On the other hand, if there are more visualizations for the same topic, ask yourself if it can't be combined in clickable selections, for example. 

Tip 6: Use lots of color. 

Dark colors are more likely to be boring. Bright colors appeal, but are not always easy to see or it is childish. Therefore, when adding color, always make sure it is the right shape and accessible. 

Extra tip: Contact me to go over even more considerations for creating powerful visualizations.