The Basics of Data Visualization

If you're like most people, the thought of opening up Excel to thousands of rows of data is enough to make you shudder. Luckily for everyone, some very smart people have developed easy to use tools to help us make sense of the 30,000 row spreadsheet sitting on your desktop. 

What is Data Visualization? 

You might be surprised to learn you've been practicing your data visualization skills since 3rd grade when your teacher had you draw your first bar graph. Data visualization is a skill involving the graphical representation and presentation of raw data; it's the process of making data easily interpretable for humans. 

While it might sound simple, developing effective data visualization skills is no easy task. The ability to use storytelling techniques to combine form and function are the key to successful data visualization. Not sure what we mean? Check out a list of some of the best examples of data visualization in history. 


Data visualization comes in more varieties and combinations than an office Starbucks Run (which may not be true as an internal office poll received 26 unique order combinations). And while you're probably familiar with a lot of these, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different methods of data visualization.

  • Bar graphs
  • Dashboards
  • Heat maps
  • Histograms
  • Infographics
  • Scatterplots

We could go on and on, but since today's theme is visual learning, here's a collection of some really creative examples of data visualization.

Tools & Software

While Excel includes some great tools that are suited for basic data visualization, there are a number of tools available suitable for different skill levels and needs. These include: 

  • Databox
  • Google Data Studio
  • iDashboards
  • Infogram
  • Tableau

We highly encourage you to consider the available software options and picking the right one for you. Data visualization is an essential skill as the world rapidly adopts data-driven decision making.