Data Visualization Mistakes to Avoid

ART01x - edited feature imageData visualization is a very useful tool in online communities. Not only does it help you present your followers with certain data, you are also making this information a lot more accessible and easier to understand by everyone. This practice includes a lot more than just a few charts or infographics put together along with a text. Even if you believe you are good at making the right visual content, there are still many mistakes you can make— which are actually easy to avoid. Here are some you should look out for.

Using too many pie charts

Pie charts might be easy to create, but they are not always the right tool for the job. In many cases, they might make it difficult for your audience to understand the main point of your topic. Generally, they are a good option if you wish to explain something simple, but if you’re looking to make certain comparisons, you might have to go for another option.

The point here is to start using the right tool, based on the kind of information you have. While it is not wrong using the same type of graph in one piece of document, it can become a little too tiring for the user to essentially look at the same thing over and over again.

There are so many types of graphics which have a specific strength and purpose and you should be informed on these qualities of theirs so you can make the right decision when it comes to presenting your data every time.

Making simple mistakes in geometry and arithmetic

One of the simplest mistakes you will find in graphics is the numbers not adding up to what they’re supposed to. For example, if you’re making a pie chart, you always have to go through it and make sure that the end result adds up to a 100 percent.

Such simple mistakes can decrease the validity of the information you present your audience with and they can make you look unprofessional in their eyes. Some of the best online platforms for content creators like TrustMyPaper, help connect the creators with people who will be able to evaluate their data and make sure such simple mistakes are avoided.

Using too many colors and shapes

Not only is it considered unprofessional to use too many different colors and shapes in your graphics, it will also be completely confusing for your audience to go through a graphic that looks like a flower garden because of all the different colors and shapes that you included.

The point of making a graphic clear and easy to understand is to make it detailed enough to understand, but not so detailed that it is confusing and tiring to go through. Stick to using colors which will not tire your audience’s eyes and shapes which won’t change their perception of the graphic or their understanding of the information you included in it.

Even though your audience might not spend more than a few seconds looking at a certain graphic, you should still make sure that it won’t affect their focus on the rest of the post and that it will instead help them solve any questions they might have, within these few seconds they will spend going through it. Any factor that could impair their focus should be avoided.

Not sourcing your data correctly

A big problem that many people tend to do is not provide their audience with sufficient sourcing of the information they used. In order for the information and numbers you used to be legitimate and trustworthy, you will have to show where you got each piece of information from.

In order to do so you will have to provide your reader with a link to any study you used, the pages and titles of the books you took information from, as well as any other source you might have used which gave you a certain amount of information.

This tactic will just take a small amount of space at the end of your graph and the end of your paper, but it will help you make your information trustworthy and your work better quality.

Not getting feedback for your graph or chart before publishing it

Sometimes, we might misinterpret the data on one of the charts or graphs we have created, simply because we’re certain about what we wanted to present our audience with. Being too close to the information can cause you to not see any errors in a faulty graph and as a result, you will publish it without it being easy enough to understand by your audience.

This is why, before you decide that a piece of information like this is completed, you should always ask others in your friendly or professional environment to interpret it for you. Ask them exactly what they found the main point of the graphic to be and what did they learn through it.

If you come to realize that their perception of the information is much different than the one you wished for, you might have to make some adjustments to your chart. This is the best way to put it to the test and make sure that your audience will understand the information you present them with, the way you wanted them to.

Avoiding these simple mistakes

After going through these simple data visualization mistakes, it will be a lot easier for you to keep an eye out for them in the future and make sure that you not only avoid them but also correct them when they happen. Making a good graph or chart has a lot to do with how much attention you pay to detail and the more careful you are, the easier it will be for you to create something that will get your point across correctly.

Which of these data visualization mistakes do you find to be the most common in your work?

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Marie Fincher

Marie Fincher

Marie Fincher is a content writer at with a background in marketing, technology and business intelligence. She frequently writes about data science, BI, new marketing trends and branding strategies. Marie gradually changed her focus from working in marketing to writing about it.

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