Why data is more than just numbers

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Why data is more than just numbers

Quick thought: When I’m delivering a training session, or talking to clients, I try to avoid using the term ‘data’ and instead use the word ‘information’.

 

Many clients and trainees fall into the trap of thinking that data means numbers, whether that’s sales figures, yearly activity data or survey results. However, it’s more useful to think of data as information  – which can cover anything from times and dates, locations, systems, lists of names … anything that can inform.

 

In the same way we can turn statistics into charts, so:

– place names can become maps
– dates and times can become timelines
– systems can become diagrams

 

Adding this non-statistical information to your visuals can help the readers engage with your content. If they’re naturally put off by numbers (as many people are), they may be attracted by a map or diagram alongside them. Adding extra content can also give the reader more rounded information, by adding context to the story. For example, seeing where your offices are located may help the reader understand differences in sales patterns.

 

The benefits of adding non-statistical information to your graphics

 

– more context for the reader
– delivers a more rounded insight into the statistics
– more appealing to readers deterred by statistics

 

If you’re working on an infographic or data visualisation, don’t forget about the other information around this subject. It could make all the difference.


About Author

Caroline Beavon

A communication professional with 12 years journalism experience and a genuine passion for new technologies. An experienced blogger and social media user

"I’ve enjoyed working with Caroline on a data visualisation project for a complex £1.5m government funded programme running across Birmingham and Leicester. It’s been a high pressure programme with tough targets to meet, so finding the time to collect and make sense of all the data, from a range of sources, has been difficult. With Caroline’s help we managed to prioritise the key information and she then presented it in a clear, easy to grasp manner. Just what we needed. I found her dedicated, easy to work with and very fair on pricing. I would happily work with her again and I commend her and her work to you" Dave Conroy, Programme Manager, Timebank