Becoming data-informed is a critical step for any team and any organization. But to do that, we have to make the data digestible and usable, not just for ourselves, but for those we're working with. Having data is one thing, but being able to make decisions and use it is another.
That's why data visualization is so important. A spreadsheet of raw data is important, but frankly is not nearly as powerful or as a meaningful chart or graph that is distilled from the raw data. Images stick with is. They bring things to life. A chart or graph can show trends or comparisons in a way that a spreadsheet simply cannot. An image can tell a story better than we can in words, whether written or oral.
Getting started shouldn't be complicated. You don't need the latest tools, though they can certainly help. Just pulling data into Excel and creating charts to help better understand the information is perfect. Then using data visualization tools is a great next step, whatever those tools are.
What is Data Visualization (podcast) - In this Storytelling with Data podcast, they address data visualization and why it is important. It is relatively short, especially if you listen at 2X speed. The tools are less important than gathering the data and creating the visuals.
Florence Nightingale is a Design Hero (article) - If you've done any reading about wars, you know that disease has almost always been far more deadly than fighting. But Florence Nightingale gathered the data and showed it visually, among so many other things. Check out this article for some awesome history and more about what she did and why it was so cool.
Examples of Data Visualizations - Not all data visualization needs to be amazing for it to tell the story. Like I said above, sometimes you just need to start with a spreadsheet and a chart if that's what you have. But that doesn't mean we can't appreciate the amazing work of visualization that others have done. This post shows some of the coolest data visualizations from last year.