Data Storytelling 101: Best Practices and Tips to Build Your Data Stories

Data Storytelling 101: Best Practices And Tips To Build Your Data Stories

Humans are pure storytellers. Storytelling has all the time been a main means for transmitting information throughout teams of individuals, ensuing within the formation of cultures and enabling evolutionary success. And now as we enter the digital age the place knowledge is the first foreign money, we flip to knowledge storytelling but once more to talk advanced data, utilizing compelling narratives custom-made for particular audiences to enhance engagement and person adoption.

Understanding knowledge storytelling

Data in itself can not resonate with people as successfully as tales can. With tales, you get a definite begin, center, and ending. They have a story circulation and repetition; they tie data collectively, offering a framework that the viewers can simply comply with. While knowledge describes what is occurring, tales point out why it’s taking place.

That mentioned, it takes particular abilities and instruments to successfully talk findings to others and persuade them to take motion.

What are the talents required to be a superb knowledge storyteller?

To be an efficient knowledge storyteller, you want to have analytical, UI/UX, knowledge visualization and delicate abilities reminiscent of creativity, communication, and the flexibility to craft a story that will likely be significant to your viewers.

  • Analytical abilities embody information of BI instruments, knowledge evaluation, data structure, and improvement methodology.
  • UI/UX abilities encompasses experience in cognitive science, design pondering, coloration idea, person interface design, prototyping, and data graphics.
  • Data visualization abilities covers visible storytelling, visible drawback framework and information of assorted charts.

Best practices to create efficient knowledge tales:

Here is a abstract which talks about six finest practices for constructing efficient knowledge tales:

1. Tailor the story to the viewers

There are broadly three sorts of audiences – strategic, analytical, and operational. Data tales change as per the kind of viewers.


Strategic knowledge storytelling is for decision-makers and senior administration. They present high-level efficiency measures with snapshots of weekly, each day, and month-to-month knowledge.

The finest practices for a strategic dashboard are as follows:

• Avoid utilizing superior visualizations and too many particulars
• Highlight outliers.
• Focus on actionable insights as a substitute of creating the dashboard visually engaging.
• Use thresholds and spotlight damaging and optimistic values.


Analytical insights and functions are for mid-management and planning groups. They ship advanced knowledge with wealthy comparisons. Interactive shows and historic knowledge are included.

Here are the perfect practices for an analytical dashboard:

• Highlight insights accurately.
• Use interactive visualizations.
• Focus on actionable insights as a substitute of creating a lovely dashboard.


Meant for operational groups, one of these knowledge tales screens continuously altering actions and reveals close to real-time or real-time knowledge.

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To create efficient operational dashboards, be certain to:

• Keep easy however actionable visualizations.
• Avoid inserting too many particulars.
• Make probably the most of pre-attentive attributes.
• Focus on actionable insights as a substitute of the dashboard’s aesthetics.
• Use thresholds and spotlight the optimistic and damaging values.

2. Understand the anatomy of a dashboard

The dashboard is essential in knowledge storytelling because it visually shows vital data wanted to attain a number of goals. Ideally, it ought to match on a single pc display to make it viewable at a look. InfoCepts recommends together with these components in your dashboard:

  • Corporate branding
  • Dashboard header
  • Date and foreign money
  • Report space
  • Report header
  • Footer
  • Summary part

If you might have a number of dashboards, allow format navigation so customers can change between them. It can also be important to embody main and secondary navigation menus, data icons, menu icons, and a name to motion.

3. Learn how to benefit from coloration palettes

Colors could make your data storytelling extra attention-grabbing and simpler to comply with. Color palettes might be:

  • Sequential (ordered from low to excessive)
  • Diverging (two sequential colours with a impartial midpoint)
  • Categorical (contrasting colours for particular person comparability)
  • Alert (a coloration to convey a warning), or
  • Highlight (a coloration for showcasing a specific worth).

Consider these elements when selecting coloration palettes:

  • Color code: Avoid utilizing a mix of inexperienced and pink in the identical show as color-blind folks can not distinguish color-coded teams of knowledge.
  • Use of thresholds: Use pink and inexperienced to signify damaging and optimistic values respectively.
  • Printing: Distinguish the colours for printing. Most printers print in black and white, so think about using contrasting colours.
  • Avoid flashy colours and a vibrant background: Use a background coloration that sufficiently contrasts with the objects within the graph or desk for optimum visibility.

4. Implement visible design finest practices

  • Ensure visibility on the whole display –
    Users might overlook vital data in the event that they scroll to entry knowledge, so guarantee all data is seen in a single go.
  • Present data in a hierarchical method –
    Place the abstract data on the high left nook, spotlight vital data, and arrange associated data teams.
  • Avoid displaying extreme particulars –
    Dashboards will need to have high-level data for a fast overview. As such, too many exactly expressed particulars can decelerate the viewers.
  • Use visualization appropriately. –
    Successful data storytelling should contain the apt illustration of data however keep away from overusing the visualization. Likewise, keep away from oversizing visualization or stretching the visuals to occupy white house.
  • Avoid knowledge ink components –
    Do not use darkish background colours for graphs and grids, keep away from vibrant fluorescent colours, use grid strains when essential, and skip utilizing borders for legends.
  • Limit font sorts –
    Too many font sorts make the textual content more durable to learn, and the font can look squished.
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5. Pick the acceptable chart

  • Use a bar chart, deviation bar chart, or twin axis bar chart , particularly when displaying comparisons, patterns, or relationships.
  • Use a stacked bar chart for patterns, part-to-a-whole, relationships, proportions, and comparisons.
  • Use a line chart for displaying quantitative values over a steady interval or intervals, reminiscent of when displaying relationships or tendencies.
  • Use a pie chart to present percentages and proportions between classes.
  • Use a bubble chart to evaluate and present relationships between categorized or labeled circles with proportions and positioning. It can present an total image for analyzing correlations and patterns.
  • Use a scatter plot to determine relationships current between totally different values.
  • Use an space chart to present the event of quantitative values over a interval or an interval, making it preferrred for displaying relationships and tendencies.
  • Use a field plot to show numerical knowledge teams by their quartiles. It can present the info distribution primarily based on percentiles, minimal, median, and most, making it preferrred for descriptive statistics and evaluating distributions.
  • Use a Gantt chart or venture timelines for planning and monitoring useful resource allocation or venture improvement on a horizontal time scale.
  • Use a HiLow inventory or candlestick chart for monetary knowledge to signify excessive, low, closing, and opening values.
  • Use a histogram to visualize knowledge distribution over a given time or steady interval.
  • Use a Pareto chart to determine the reason for a loss or drawback. A histogram reveals the frequency of an issue or the varied issues occurring.
  • Use a polar or radar chart to evaluate a number of quantitative variables. It is efficient for viewing variables with related values or displaying if there are some outliers. It can also be sensible for highlighting high- or low-scoring variables in a dataset, making it appropriate for displaying efficiency.

6. Use superior visualizations the place wanted

Here is a fast overview of some superior visualizations and when to use them in your knowledge storytelling:

  • Waterfall –
    This visualization highlights decrements and increments of the values of metrics over time. It could also be used for what-if analyses.
  • Gauge –
    Gauges are standing indicators related to a speedometer. They show the worth of a single metric, making them sensible as visible representations of a single metric worth for benchmarks and comparisons.
  • Time collection –
    An space graph that lets a doc analyst decide a piece of the graph to view at a time to discover a high-level pattern or extra metrics. It is appropriate for knowledge over time, patterns, and comparisons.
  • Maps –
    A map lets customers visualize knowledge to determine and analyze tendencies, patterns, and relationships within the knowledge.
  • Heat map –
    A map consisting of coloured rectangles representing an attribute component, so you’ll be able to shortly grasp the affect and state of numerous valuables. Heat maps are useful for knowledge storytellingwithin the monetary companies business.
  • Bubble grid –
    This visualization makes it straightforward to determine prime tendencies or knowledge anomalies relative to the entire contribution of the accompanying knowledge. It is right for conducting analyses involving key enterprise ratios.
  • Funnel: Use this to analyze numerous tendencies shortly over a number of metric values.
  • Graph matrix –
    This is an interactive and highly effective visualization. It permits customers to present their knowledge utilizing numerous graph kinds (e.g. grid, bubble graph, or line). It might be custom-made to the person’s wants, permitting the comparability of metric tendencies by two non-time attributes.
  • Lipstick chart –
    This visualization gives alternative ways of viewing knowledge. For each x-axis worth, a grey bar reveals the precise recorded worth. Red and inexperienced bars signify the anticipated worth.
  • Micro charts – Use a micro chart for knowledge storytelling that wants to present the metric’s pattern at a look with out further particulars. It is usually a bullet, sparkline, or bar micro chart.
  • Network visualization – Use this to simply and shortly determine relationships between associated clusters and gadgets. It is finest for market basket evaluation or visualizing a social community.
  • Image format – This lets customers present the info as map markers or coloured geographical areas. Display choices might be modified, reminiscent of the colour of the areas, permitting customers to grasp relationships between totally different areas.
  • Data cloud – This visualization reveals attribute components in numerous sizes to point out variations in metric values between them. An component with an even bigger font means the next metric worth.
  • Media – Use this if you want to current data by channels like photos, video, web site content material, or audio on the dashboard. Media may improve a dashboard’s look and really feel.
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With a lot knowledge out there inside a corporation, knowledge storytelling gives the easiest way to put a human perspective into the more and more advanced and quickly altering world of digital disruption. Learn extra recommendations on changing into an efficient knowledge storyteller from the complete model of the InfoCepts Guide to Becoming a Data Storyteller.

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