Data visualization allows you to take cold, hard data and make it relatable to your audience. Instead of presenting facts in dry text, you create an exciting visual that makes a strong impression on the reader and encourages them to share with others. About 90 percent of information the brain processes is visual. That makes sense, because our brains process images much faster than other types of input. If you want to reach your site visitors on every level, adding data visualizations is vital.
Here are some key reasons data visualization is essential to your website:
You have about 10 seconds to grab the average site visitor’s attention. Using visuals increases the speed of comprehension, which shortens the time it takes site visitors to figure out what your message is. If you don’t grab their attention in that time, you risk them leaving your page and going to a competitor’s site instead. Allow them to grasp your overall concept quickly by placing a visualization near the top of the page.
Nikon creates what they call a “universcale,” which shows the size of various objects in comparison to the earth. They explain opto-electronics technologies such as microscopes or astronomical telescopes. It’s a way to let site visitors see how the sizes of things compare in the real world and how new technology allows people to see what was previously invisible to the naked eye.
Gathering data from multiple sources sometimes results in statistics that don’t add up to 100. When creating bar graphs and pie charts, your totals should always equal 100 percent. Creating data visualizations allows you to see your statistics and facts in real time and make sure everything adds up and makes sense. You’ll spot mistakes easier when you see them in image format. If the numbers aren’t correct, recheck your facts and make sure you’re accurate.
If you want to bring your writing to life, highlight key points with data visualizations. Instead of just adding a single image that may or may not be relevant, scatter relevant data visualization throughout your text. That also allows site visitors to skim your material quickly and pick up on key points they might otherwise miss. More and more people access the Internet via mobile devices. Adding visualizations allows them to scan critical facts while on the run.
Bulk Bag Reclamation does an excellent job of weaving data visualizations throughout their text to highlight key statistics on warehouse storage space. One thing they do particularly well with their data visualizations is to add a graph of a percentage, then include an image that highlights the topic at hand. This approach allows the reader to both process the statistic and to visualize what that looks like in real life.
If you want your site visitors to do something specific, such as clicking on your newsletter link, you must touch them on an emotional level. Data visualization persuades people by tapping into emotions and making abstract concepts real. Involving emotions makes it more likely you’ll gain loyal, lifelong customers.
People remember images better than simple text. If you want people to remember what they’ve seen on your website, data visualizations are a must. Studies show people remember more than 2,500 images with about 90 percent accuracy for several days after seeing them. However, they only remember info they hear at about 10 percent accuracy. That number increases to 65 percent if an image accompanies the oral information.
The New York Times offers a buy/rent calculator that allows potential homebuyers to see if it makes more sense for them to rent or buy. By sliding the interactive visual scale, consumers get a readout explaining whether it is better financially to rent or to buy. They also can input factors such as how long they plan to stay in one spot and how much of a down payment they have saved.
If you’re trying to explain a complicated or highly technical concept, adding data visualizations allows you to break difficult ideas into easier-to-understand bits. The best way to figure out what should have a visual is to have a layperson read through the content.
If something isn’t immediately clear, would a visual help explain it better? Think about your typical audience and their level of sophistication when it comes to the topics on your website. Make sure your average visitor understands the content clearly.
Social media lends itself to visual data. People share posts with visuals more than text-only posts. Approximately half of marketers indicate about 90 percent of their social media content contains visual components.
Adding visual elements to your content allows you to pull those elements onto social media and link back to your website. Since people are more likely to share posts with visuals, this expands your reach.
Audiences today are highly savvy. They’ve seen and experienced technology for many years now, so it’s hard to impress them. Connect by telling a story through visuals combined with other multimedia elements that pull them into an experience.
As mentioned at the top of this article, you have about 10 seconds before a site visitor leaves your page — unless you grab their interest. Pulling them into a story with visuals hooks the reader and makes them want to know more about the topic at hand.
Adding data visualization doesn’t take a lot of time or effort with online tools that allow you to create graphs and charts. However, the payoff is big in customer engagement and better comprehension. If you want to stand out in a sea of websites, data visualizations add to the overall impact of your site.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
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