You’ve got the numbers, now what do you do with them? Not everyone needing to share informative data is an expert coder or designer, so here are some tips on making your data shine without sinking piles of cash or time into it.
Sure, you can easily make graphs in Excel, but these can be visually boring.
Try something a little different, like using images that represent the data. Go to icanhaz.com/excelpic for instructions on how to do this.
You can also create visualizations with charts that don’t look like they’re charts by removing axis lines and labels, and of course using a relevant image instead of bars or lines.
Pie charts can and are often misused. Think about what you are wanting to convey. In this case, I’m representing the broad sources of content that our users access, but only over a single school year rather than a timeline as in the previous two graphics. If the numbers are too close to each other, it’s hard to distinguish between them. This is better for highlighting dramatic differences.
You could use a bar graph to show journal use or a line graph to show use over time, but sometimes something as simple as a Wordle will make your point loud and clear. These Wordles were created using data about our journal subscriptions from a particular STM publisher, using data from the 2008-2009 school year. The top Wordle highlights the journals with the most articles downloaded, and the bottom Wordle highlights the journals that have the highest cost per use.
Finally, there’s no need to stick with static images. This takes a bit of tweaking, but you can create non-static charts using the Google Visualization API. http://sites.google.com/site/eclecticlibrarian/