Data visualization tools are tools of imagination, shaped by the user, that spark insight and discussion.
Imagine collecting data – cold hard facts and numbers. Combine it with visualization – envisioning highlighting the data via diagrams, images, and/or animation. The combination is simply deemed, ‘data visualization,’ where you present information in an enlightening and entertaining way in the form of graphics. The resulting infographic tells a story and communicates an attention-getting message. But creating an infographic may prove challenging without the use of data visualization tools.
The scope of this article is to reveal several useful tools of the data visualization infographics trade. It also pinpoints why you should be interested in infographics, and how to obtain them without doing it yourself.
The Info on Infographics
Lists can grow tiresome. Standard charts don’t often inspire a second look. But a decorative infographic can get noticed! And data visualization is becoming increasingly popular to share. And once an infographic is pinned across the social networks, the marketing message becomes visible, if not viral.
Of course, data visualization that is passed on from viewer to viewer presupposes that it is well-researched and aesthetically-pleasing, presented in a clear, visually impactful way.
Too many infographics, unfortunately, cannot be described in this manner. They look as though they were done in a rushed, haphazard way – put together just to get something ‘out there.’
Remember, the medium is the message and data visualization can be an effective communication and marketing mechanism but only if used properly. Hopefully, the tools that will soon be at your disposal will enable you to become an infographics maven where you assume the role of a professional infographics designer.
And if you need any motivation as to why you should pursue becoming an infographics tool user, know the myriad benefits of data visualization:
- Helps the viewer to understand challenging data. Infographics break up information into digestible pieces that are more easily consumed.
- Calls out to the viewer to share the info with others. When an image is compelling and thoughtful, the viewer is more inclined to pass the message along. The infographics link is also evergreen and can be readily shared months and even years after it first appears online.
- Provides branding opportunities. For instance, my son works part-time for a merchant account company and he and his boss posted this infographic on a number of Internet-related sites. While it did not gain any significant views, it did get them several new clients and even a thank you or two from folks who learned important information about the credit card processing field.
- Potential to realize valuable SEO gains – Social shares, backlinks, citations, and traffic can help boost ranking in Google and the other search engines. A company can expand their reach to an audience they may not have otherwise known existed.
- Calculate measurable results – You’ll know the infographics impact right from the start. While a jolt of popularity can surge at any time, you’ll see the effect of your data visualization effort right from the start. You can then analyze the results and see how to improve them by tinkering with your infographic.
Must-See Instruments to Create Data Visualization
Alright, so now you know the value of infographics, a form of compelling content that goes beyond text. But while creating the written word is easy (just start typing on a WordPress post or page), it’s not intuitive to create data visualization art.
What we need are some data visualization tools or software to allow us to express ourselves using this vehicle. Sure, you can use Photoshop but this requires application of skillful techniques that may be beyond the level of your expertise. The idea is to expedite infographics creation and make your life easier.
Here are seven of the best tools to use:
1) Piktochart – With a wide-range and diverse smorgasbord of tools, the user can create a stellar-looking infographic, and easily edit it if/when necessary. Storytelling comes to life with their web-based application. (This application also has an IOS version.)
There are a host of icons in different categories, eye-catching chart options (e.g., bar, dot, line, Venn, pie, progress bars, etc.), and interactive maps that are also dynamic where you can assign information when a viewer hovers over them.
You can create your own design from scratch or use Piktochart’s impressive templates. The resizable canvas is comprised of layered blocks. You can place background images on a given block and build up layers until you create your masterpiece.
There is a free version available. You can also unlock all Piktochart’s features by purchasing a pro license ($29 per month).
2) Easel.ly – One of the easiest data visualization tools to use is Easel.ly as it offers a WYSIWYG development platform. While they should expand their ‘how to’ section a little more in my estimation, you’ll still be able to design with ease.
They offer ‘Vhemes’ or visual themes to get started. The layouts and designs are rather basic but continue to expand. The library of image assets are useful but you can always import your own images and icons to make your infographic more enticing. When you’re finished, you can simply download it in JPG and PDF versions.
As it’s free, the Easel.ly platform is one to investigate.
3) Infogr.am – This is the data visualization tool to use if you’re looking to depict charts. Indeed, it offers 30+ types of charts – anything from pie maps to tree maps.
They have a nice variety of easy-to-use, color-schemed templates. You’ll be able to edit so-deemed dummy graphs, text, and more. You can add photos, videos, and maps to add to the infographic’s appeal.
While you can use this free tool, be forewarned that your created product will be branded with the Infogram logo. Moreover, this free plan is limited, capping the number of infographics and uploaded images to 10 each with the stipulation that you can’t privately share projects.
You may have to opt for their Pro, Business, or Enterprise Plan ($15/month, $42/month, $166/month respectively, billed annually.) You’ll soon be able to create a professional-looking graphic that you can place on your blog or share with others via an embedded hardcode.
4) Visme – You can translate your thoughts and ideas into spell-binding content with Visme. You can create any type of content conceivable with its options. You can even add object motion.
The free version is limited and only allows up to 3 projects. The paid versions allow more projects ($16 per month entitles you to unlimited projects). Pro versions (i.e., the Visme Standard and Visme Complete) also provide premium templates and an array of widgets. You should find the interface intuitive, clean, and clutter-free. Produce quality content with the drag-and-drop interface.
5) Canva – Growing in popularity, Canva has its share of infographic advocates. No doubt, users are impressed with the tool’s bountiful options that can be used for social media, work, or personal projects. Templates are impressive-looking with already set dimensions. The sky is the limit as creativity flourishes with a diverse variety of free images. (Your selection widens with paid graphics.)
This is the perfect mechanism to produce posters, flyers, book covers, banners, business cards, and just about any other data presentation you can think of. The one drawback is that I could not find a way to fully manipulate uploaded images but I have to do more experimentation.
6) Venngage – Combines an easy-to-use interface with ready-made elements. Piggybacking off the design concepts of the Vizualize.Me infographic resume tool, the user will intuitively know how to use and manipulate options.
Two advantages of Venngage: a) the user can link to other web content via the text in the infographic; and b) the infographic is SEO-optimized as the elements use html coding.
(Remember, infographics can help improve ranking and with Venngage and embedded data visualization designs, your site can continue to climb in the standings.)
Predictably, the free version limits the number of themes, templates, charts, and icons. However, once you see the professional infographic examples that were created with paid versions, you may opt to go pro with the premium monthly option ($15 a month, discounted at $150 a year). The benefit of a premium version is that the infographic will not be Venngage branded.
7) Infoactive – Their slogan, “Data, meet design” is apropos. They offer a live-data feature where you can update information expediently via Google Sheets or a CSV. Maps, icons, charts, and text can be fused together to tell a compelling narrative.
The themes are customizable and you can tinker with them to match your brand and its message. The platform is best used for polls, surveys, or any other changing dataset. They’re interactive infographics which means that users, for example, can use filters when looking up specific data parameters.
Data Visualization Outsourcing
Despite the easy-to-use data visualization tools highlighted above, there will be those who just don’t feel comfortable visualizing data and making infographics. Others may feel that they’re just not computer-savvy, and look for experts who can run with their vision and manufacture a worthwhile story.
As the demand is growing, there are more places than ever to purchase infographics. For instance, Visual.ly is an infographics hub with thousands of talented designers, copywriters, and developers who can spin infographic gold, but for a pretty penny. Indeed, even one infographic can cost hundreds of dollars. Some complex and heavily designed infographics can cost four figures.
Alternatively, those on a much tighter budget but still quest data visualization perfection may consider the “Graphic Team”. They can customize unique infographics for you at an affordable price and you won’t have to compromise on quality. You can just email them your niche, and they can even develop the entire campaign for you. Another option: You can copywrite your own infographic, and they can translate your ideas into data visualization mastery.
You can see a sample of their work here – towards the middle and bottom of the page. These are pre-done, ready-to-go, and customizable business infographics. You can market them on social platforms, your own blog, web 2.0 properties – well, any domain you have access to.
The price for 15 high-quality infographics is less than $1 each … and you have permission to edit them (PSD/AI/PNG/JPEG Versions), and even have PLR rights.
Retooling You Marketing Campaigns
You may have written guest posts, press releases, developed a social media following, or engaged in a number of other marketing strategies. However, f you haven’t availed yourself to the use of infographics, you’re underutilizing your potential marketing arsenal.
Data visualization tools are readily accessible, affordable, and easy to use. It will be much easier to envision your business’ success with data visualization – whether you use your own tools or decide to outsource.