Data storytelling has never been so popular – but collecting your data is only part of the puzzle.
It doesn’t matter how good data is; if readers can’t understand it, it doesn’t have any real value — this is where a visual storytelling technique like data visualization can make all the difference.
In recent years, data storytelling has become synonymous with cutting-edge digital journalism, whether it’s in-depth features on the spread of Covid-19 or stories examining the impact of Brexit. However, if you want to tell a compelling, fact-driven story, these days you need more than just words, stats, and images: you need strong data visualization design.
If you’re telling a story that contains statistics, the right data visualization design can bring that wow-factor to your work. It won’t just mean that readers better understand the content, it means they’ll come away with a more positive view of your brand, too. Let’s take a deep dive into data visualization, including some examples that were made with no code in Vev.
What is Data Visualization Design?
Data visualization design is the graphical representation of statistics and information. It refers to the act of using visuals like charts, infographics, and diagrams to turn dry, quantitative data into engaging visuals that make the data easier to understand.
Not only does decent data visualization design keep the reader following your story, it also gives content creators more opportunities to tell data-driven stories in creative and compelling ways. You can combine the expertise of facts with the inventiveness of visuals, and transform dull, data-heavy content into innovative stories that capture our imagination.
Data visualization design may sound like a modern concept, but it was first used in the 1600s, when maps included illustrations of landmarks to provide context, and make them easier to navigate. While modern data visualization design looks quite different, it has the same purpose: to turn complex or dry data into easy-to-understand visuals, and to allow the reader to take away a deeper meaning.
Data Visualization Design Tools and Techniques
When it comes to data storytelling, it’s crucial to get your data visualization design just right. After all, having interesting data is just the first step; the next is being able to understand and communicate it. This is why mastering the art of data visualization design is so important.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a statistical expert or a design whizz to crack the data visualization code. You just need to be familiar with the most effective data visualization design tools and techniques.
Here are some of the best data visualization designs to get to grips with.
Whether it’s bar charts, pie charts, or line charts, the easiest way to elevate chart visuals is to animate them. While static charts might be good ways to help readers understand what statistics mean, animating them will keep people engaged. Thanks to their ability to guide readers’ attention and get points across, animated charts are one of the most effective forms of data visualization design.
If you need to deliver an important figure, adding an animated number counter is a smart choice. Seeing the numbers tick upwards creates a sense of excitement and suspense, keeps readers focused on the relevant parts of your content, and encourages people to keep scrolling. If conveying the magnitude of data is your aim, then number counters might be the right data visualization design.
If any of your data relates to locations, then an interactive map is almost always the best form of data visualization design. Interactive maps can be used in many different ways, and they can be triggered by scrolling, hovering, or clicking. By allowing the reader to reveal more details on a map as they go along, you’re keeping them engaged, and helping them understand the geographical relevance of your data.
When it comes to keeping readers immersed in a story and adding visual appeal, scrollytelling is arguably the most effective data visualization design technique. It’s been used by publications like New York Times for years, and today this technique forms the crux of many successful interactive digital stories. Scrolling gradually reveals new elements of the data, allowing designers to drip-feed new statistics and facts at the most opportune times.
While the examples above relate to best data visual design techniques, there are also some tools you should get familiar with. Flourish Studio is a powerful online data visualization tool that makes it easy to turn data into eye-catching charts, maps, and interactive stories, and then embed these visualizations into your own project. You can use Vev to source and embed data visualization elements from Flourish, as well as other third-party platforms.
5 Examples of Beautiful Data Visualization Design
So, now we understand the importance of striking yet coherent data visualization – and are familiar with some of the best tools and techniques – let’s look at some in action. Here are five examples of beautiful data visualization design.
ServiceNow: The Characteristics of Innovation
ServiceNow’s report The Characteristics of Innovation was made in Vev, and it’s an excellent example of how animated charts can be one of the most effective forms of data visualization design. The report kicks off via scrollytelling, and sticky position sections are used to ensure each data visualization element is pinned to the page for the right amount of time.
The content focuses on how leaders around the world believe they foster a strong culture of innovation, and though there are five separate traits highlighted throughout the report, little text is used to get the points across; instead, visuals do the heavy lifting, particularly animated charts.
As the reader scrolls, each section is revealed with a new colorful chart fading in. Each bar chart rises individually, allowing the reader to absorb its data before the next one is triggered. Even though there’s a lot of data in this report, ensuring the visualizations happen gradually stops the reader from feeling overwhelmed, and gives them time to absorb the facts.
Each section uses a slightly different type of animated chart to keep the reader on their toes and make sure the segments feel separate. Whether it’s vertical bar charts, horizontal bar charts, or circle charts, the slow pace of this data visualization design ensures the reader actually understands the data, and makes the content far more compelling.
World Wildlife Fund: Regenerate Canada
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also used Vev to create their report Regenerate Canada, which is about the importance of stopping biodiversity loss and climate change before it’s too late. The content unfolds via scrollytelling, and the full-size photos in the background immediately create an impressive cinematic effect, pulling the reader into the content.
Rather than using number counters, WWF uses scrolling animations to make their bold figures stand out. As the reader scrolls, animated text boxes appear on the screen, presenting WWF’s regeneration goals: restore 1 million hectares; steward 100 million hectares; reduce carbon emissions by 30 million tonnes. Using scroll animation is a good way to emphasize these figures – as is the bold color of the numbers.
In the section on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, WWF highlights the importance of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees. Rather than using a simple line chart to show how global warming has increased, they use a photo of an iceberg, with the data plotted against the line of the iceberg’s sloped top. While visually striking, this image is also relevant and evocative.
Eidsiva: Annual & Social Report
Norwegian energy company Eidsiva Energi used Vev to create their 2022 annual report. The report kicks off with several impressive animations, including animated backgrounds containing both videos and photos, and parallax scrolling. While these are great at capturing the viewer’s attention, the key data needs to be visualized in other ways.
Colorful charts are used to show Eidsiva’s operating income, and animated text that slides in horizontally ensures the reader’s attention is drawn to these. Animated number counters are also used in sections about capital and equity, operating and annual profit, number of employees, and dividends. Watching the numbers tick up keeps the reader focused on the page and engaged in the data.
Scrolling animation is also particularly effective in a section about Eidsiva’s coworkers. As the reader scrolls, multiple different stats and percentages slowly appear on the screen, giving the reader time to absorb each stat before the next one appears. By drip-feeding the data in this way, Eidsiva are making sure no vital information is missed.
World Heart Federation: Highlights 2022
Another annual report that showcases some excellent examples of data visualization design is the World Heart Federation’s Highlights 2022. Also created in Vev, this bright, vibrant report is packed with interactive elements and animations, from background video to parallax scrolling.
Animated text and graphics are also used brilliantly, particularly in a section about alcohol: the words ‘How many glasses of red wine a day are good for your heart?’ appear on the screen, before fading into an animated illustration of a glass of wine; this glass of wine then fades into the words ‘Zero’. This is a really creative way to myth-bust, and ensures the reader doesn’t skip over this crucial fact.
Important information regarding the results of the 2022 World Heart Day campaign are imparted via animated number counters – from the number of hits the WHD website received and the number of resources downloaded, to the overall media reach and numbers of members activated.
Because these animated number counters slide in via horizontal scroll, the reader is intrigued, and the rapidly increasing numbers builds a sense of anticipation.This is a long and detailed report, but the level of creativity stops it ever becoming dull, and the constant flipping up of the visual design encourages the reader to continue scrolling.
Partnerstudio: 2022 Annual Report
Content company Partnerstudio also used Vev to create their 2022 annual report. Annual reports are often cited as good examples of data visualization design, and that’s because they tend to be very data heavy. In order to keep readers interested, and adequately convey the most important facts, more and more organizations are elevating their annual reports with creative and intriguing data visual designs.
In their 2022 report, Partnerstudio rely heavily on animated number counters to impart the most vital data. Not only do the increasing numbers grab the reader’s attention, but the size of the numbers do too. Whether it’s the 1.7 billion impressions their content has got, or the 58.5 million page views, these big, bold numbers have no chance of being missed.
Animated graphs are used too, as are scrolling animations, animated text, and tables. Scrolling down reveals animated pie charts and bar graphs, which are often accompanied by animated number counters. There’s also an interactive map of Norway, showing where most of Partnerstudio’s readers are based; clicking each color-coded portion of the map reveals which percentage of readers are from each region.
Because the design of this report is so striking, the number counters so large, and the graphs so easy to understand, Partnerstudio have ensured that the key takeaways of their year will still be seen by readers – even if they’re skim-reading. By bypassing large blocks of text and opting for a bold data visualization design, Partnerstudio have raised the bar for what annual reports can look like.
Create Striking Data Visualization Designs Without Coding
Want to create your own bold data visualization designs? Using Vev’s prebuilt animations and stunning visualizations like interactive bar graphs, charts, and line graphs, you can quickly and easily bring your content to life. Then, when you’re ready, you can publish anywhere you like.