Visualization is King

Over the last 6 months I have been working on quite a big data collection project.  I have been doing my best to find innovative and interesting ways to present all this information. I am still convinced that the role of an analyst is to get a message across as much as it is to collect data/videos.

I recently came across a couple of blogs I hadn’t seen before – both deal directly with Data Visualization and I wanted to share a really interesting example of what I found.

A Table of Results

Both blogs were dealing with the Manchester Derby from a few weeks back where City won 6-1. On an excellent blog soccerbythenumbers a table of the historical results were presented like so;

Nothing especially wrong with the table but nothing very exciting about it either. I would imagine most people take a quick glance at this and then move on.

Simple but effective improvements.

On the VizWiz blog they looked at making this table come a bit more alive and could use the same data to tell their story in a better way.

So how do you think they did? Here is what they did.

  1. Changed the numbers to percentages and rounded to one decimal.
  2. Removed most of the grid-lines.
  3. Formatted the results as a heat map.  This makes the largest percentage of result very obvious.  For example, you can now easily see, without having to scan across all of the data points, that 1-1 is the most common score line…boring result!
  4. Formatted the totals as a second heat map.  I chose a brown-white scheme for these.  The totals show you the % of the total goals scored for each time.  ManU has scored one or two goals 64.2% of the time while City has scored one or two goals 58.2% of the time.

For me this paints a much clearer picture of exactly the same data. But that’s not where the improvement ends.

Visualization is King!

On the dataremixed blog I found an even better improvement. Using a bubble chart they managed to create the following interactive and visually appealing table – again using the exact same data set. (To see the table in all it’s glory click here)

Think like a Storyteller.

This takes the visualization of the data to a whole new level. You now have colours representing the 2 teams and a draw and the size of the bubble shows how popular the scoreline is. I think any human being would prefer looking at the last table than the first. But more importantly that what my preference is – I am also much more likely to remember the important points.

I am constantly on the look out for new and exciting ways to present information. I think the example above highlights just how important that skill is.



Rob Carroll. Founder of The Video Performance Analyst. Always learning.