Why Data Visualization?

“Visualization is an image, diagram, graphic, or animation representing data that is intended to give a better understanding of that data.” - Schofield (2013)
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

It’s a popular saying in today’s world that data is knowledge. Accurate data provides irrefutable evidence, while assumptions or speculations might result in wasted resources. With the advent of the internet, the amount of structured and unstructured data being generated has increased a whole lot. It’s quite tasking for users of data to explore and use these data on a large scale repeatedly, hence the need for data visualization.

Humans have traditionally used visuals of different forms and nature to keep data otherwise known as information alive for longer periods as it is believed that what can’t be felt, smelled, or tasted may be visualized. However, in today’s world, computers can now be used to process large amounts of data and visualize them as well. 

Data visualization as common graphics

IBM Cloud Education in explaining data visualization stated that “data visualization is the representation of data through the use of common graphics, such as charts, plots, infographics, and even animations. These visual displays of information communicate complex data relationships and data-driven insights in a way that is easy to understand.” Simply put, data visualization involves the design, utilization, and development of computer-generated graphical illustration of data.

Shadare et al(2016) in their International Journal of Engineering Research And Advanced Technology(IJERAT) publication stated that “data visualization uses computer graphics to show patterns, trends, and relationships among elements of the data. It can generate pie charts, bar charts, scatter plots, and other types of data graphs with simple pull-down menus and mouse clicks”. They further went on to explain that “in data visualization, data is abstracted and summarized.”

Data Visualization

Lukas Blazek, Unsplash

More than just representing numbers

Wolfe(2015) in his Journal of Business and Technical Communication publication stated that “data visualization is more than just representing numbers; it involves selecting and rethinking the numbers on which the visualization is based”. He further explained that “most visualization designs are to aid decision making and serve as tools that augment cognition.” The “why” for data visualization has been sorted because it has evolved into a quick and simple way of communicating and expressing complicated ideas with clarity, precision, and speed. These advantages have made data visualization valuable in a variety of disciplines and industries.

To name a few industries; in the legal industry, attorneys can now produce engaging visuals for themselves, their clients, or jury members regardless of the magnitude of their case, the size of their law firm, or the volume of documents involved in a specific case, thanks to data visualization; in the field of forensic science, data visualization has been a useful tool to identify the correctness, irregularity, and discrepancies of the collected data and information during analysis and investigation.

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