Among all of our senses as humans, evolutionary history has conditioned us to rely on our sense of sight to learn and observe the world around us. The sight was how primitive humans detected threats, using them as an essential tool for escaping danger and prolonging survival. Working in tandem with other senses, we have determined if the movement behind the treeline is a wild animal or simply a member of our community returning from a food harvesting mission.
While we still use our vision to detect danger, we have largely moved past the cautious visual reliance in the wilderness, but the data shows that our sense of sight remains as crucial as ever. Since visual engagement is still the primary method of holding someone’s attention, we are still alerted by those same primitive aspects that kept us safe in the past.
Visual intake transcends boundaries of most aspects of life, not the least of which is the strategies in which we use to present ourselves in our business. With websites being the primary vehicle for running a new company, data visualization is always a key concept leveraged in web development.
Understanding this concept is vital for web design companies and web designers whose livelihood depends on their understanding of designing visually appealing websites with a high degree of efficacy in promoting their business and product offerings. For that reason, data visualization has become the central core concept of developing new techniques and methods of application in the web development sphere.
Outlining Human Interest
Data visualization is a highly effective tool for communicating the message to an audience through a visual medium, a reason why marketers rely on its use so profoundly. A studious visitor will try to engage in as much research and evaluation as possible before deciding on a purchase. But humans are naturally averted from reading or listening to something that may divert their interest towards a more attractive option.
For example, a listing of statistics and dry information dumps will be less effectively received than a well-illustrated graph of the same information. Graphs and charts take complex information and present it in a far more understandable manner. Any visual representation of basic statistical knowledge is bound to keep visitors’ attention on-topic rather than having them be too confused or overwhelmed to continue the dreadful meandering through a bunch of numbers.
As long as the relevant information is presented to the correct audience in the valid format (in this case via visual representation), it can be an extremely effective tool to inform and engage the viewers. Data visualization is effective in many walks of life because humans have an inherent bias towards visual presentation. It’s the same reason people go to see a movie instead of sitting in a theater to have someone read a book to them.
Charting The Path Forward
Effectively using visualization spans far beyond creating charts or infographics, however. A great example of data visualization’s efficacy is Google Maps. What started as a text-based direction providing service with some map charts alongside every turn has become a superior form of interactive systems in which mapping road directions is but one aspect of the service. While formerly used for planning, Google Maps is now a highly capable tool used for finding businesses, hospitals, schools, hotels, and recreational activities, with each having the ability to be clicked on and drilled down into to receive far more granular and specific information that can help shape visitors’ decisions.
Clicking on a Google Map location these days yields everything from contact information, hours of operation, photographic views of the location, satellite shots, and many reviews from other customers. But that is all the front end. On the back-end, a developer with good programming chops and API access can set up visitor experiences explicitly tailored to the person clicking on the interesting points of the map.
Maps are no longer for just getting from point A to point B. They are overarching planning tools for travel and exploration. For example, Google Maps can provide visitors with a mapping of local restaurants with all of the pertinent information accessible with just a couple of clicks. It can also be an educational tool that can show the transformation of an area great for historical and environmental research.
Data Is What Defines You
There is a more concerning side to data visualization. What we have addressed so far relies heavily on factual honesty. But the interpretation of statistics can be spun in many ways. Some can be more manipulative than others based on their framing or even the accuracy of the information being presented. So while data visualization is a potent tool, it can be used for disinformation, confusion, or misleading ventures, a common trait in very cut-throat industries or the political arena by dishonest players.
In those cases, the leverages of data visualization might get what they want in the end, which ends up being reckless and dangerous. At the very least it is unpleasant and unethical. Therefore, data visualization is subject to being employed on what is essentially an honor system. In any other context than the best and most accurate data, data visualization can serve as a weapon for black-hat ventures and utilization of misrepresented information and poor ripple effects that stem from its consumption by visitors.
The opportunities afforded by data visualization are vast, and we have likely only scratched the surface of the benefits of its potential. However, it does present a vast scope of issues, especially in terms of communicating data that is clear and accurately depicted. That means that it’s not all about making great-looking visuals, linking particular businesses off interactive maps, and throwing together a fancy chart. There are intelligence-based and ethical concerns with its use (or misuse).
Humans are and will remain visual creatures, making data visualization an effective tool for relaying information to them. Therefore, in web development environments, optical media is always a worthwhile investment. Furthermore, the more businesses leverage data visualization, the more of a competitive edge they are afforded.