Hello there! I'm Miranda Rensch, Product Manager at SEOmoz and lover of visual communication. Communicating visually is one of the most effective ways to explain complex concepts and relationships, and can be a great way to explain your services/products and create valuable site content. I often use diagrams and whiteboarding in order to communicate new features and concepts internally with my team.
I've compiled a list of tools you can use to create visualizations, or simply use to communicate visually with your teammates. Enjoy, and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!
Tools for creating simple infographics and data visualizations
Piktochart is a web-based tool that has six decent free themes (and a whole bunch more for the paid version) for creating simple visualizations. You can drag and drop different shapes and images, and there is quite a bit of customization available. You can also add simple line, bar, and pie charts using data from CSV (or manual entry). You can export to PNG and JPG in either print or web quality. Note that with the free version, you get a small Piktochart watermark on the bottom of the PNG / JPG downloads.
Easel.ly is another free web-based tool for creating infographics. You cannot create graphs using real data with this tool, but its really good for conceptual visualizations and storytelling. It has a beautiful user interface and the themes you can start with are gorgeous. The themes support many common purposes: map, flow-chart, and comparison/relationship graphing. This tool has the best selection of well-design objects (people, a bunch if icons, landmarks, maps, animals, etc.) and backgrounds that I've seen throughout this list of tools. Additionally, you can upload your own images with the free version. You can download a web-quality version as JPG. This tool is still in beta, but it seemed to work pretty well to me!
Infogr.am is another free, web-based tool with some really nice themes and a great interface for creating simple infographics. This option also allows you to create charts using real data. There are 31 chart options that offer some really cool displays, like a radial bar graph, scatter charts, bubble graphs, and map charts. You can also add your own images and video. When you're done creating your infographic, you can embed it on a website and publish it to the infogra.am site (I wasn't able to find a way to download). This app is also in beta, but again, seemed pretty solid to me.
Visual.ly (I know, these visualization tools love their '.ly's!) has some simple free tools worth mentioning, many of which integrate with social networks to analyze Twitter and Facebook data. You can create fun Venn diagrams, Twitter account show-downs, visuals that analyze hash tags, and a few others, but there's almost no customization available. However, they offer a marketplace where you can get connected with visual designers and motion graphics artists who specialize in infographics. The site itself also has a ton of great info graphics to inspire you or your designers. There is some serious data visualization eye candy in there, people.
Tableau has some free tools for creating data visualizations. It is not web based, so you have to download the software. Once you do, you can upload a spreadsheet or CSV and create a variety of interactive data visualizations types, including heat maps showing density of an activity by location, Venn diagrams to show associations, bar charts, line graphs, and others. This tool is for Windows only. See Tableau's gallery for examples of the types of visualizations you can create or learn more about how it works.
[Bonus!] Looking for some more fantastically geeky data viz options?
Datavisualization.ch has created an excellent list of packages, libraries, and data visualization frameworks for creating more complex and interactive visualizations using your own data sets and dev environments.
Tools for diagraming and wireframing
This is a desktop application that I use all the time at work. The interface is very intuitive, and it's quite an effective tool for wireframing in detail. You can customize and stylize objects to the extent that you can use the tool to create whole infographics exactly as you want them using this tool (it's difficult to do data visualizations with actual data, though). There are tons of free downloadable stencils which make it super easy to diagram mobile and web interfaces, architecture diagrams, and even office/home layouts. This tool has its cons, though; it's not the cheapest tool at $99 for standard and $199 for the pro version, and it's offered for Mac only.
This is another nice wireframing tool good for creating simple diagrams of web and mobile interfaces. It's $79 for the desktop version, but there's also a free web demo which is sufficient for simple diagramming.
Other tools for visual communication
8. Make a video
The RSA Animate series (illustrations done by CognitiveMedia) is a really good example of using visual communication to accompany a verbal explanation of something. You can hire an illustration artist to do something like this, or do it up yourself Whiteboard Friday-style and draw on a whiteboard while you explain your topic (this works great in internal meetings too; try it next time you're trying to explain a concept to someone and see how it goes). If you hire an illustration artist, deliver the verbal script that they'll need to animate to and add points where you can see visuals supporting the topics, but give them freedom to explore creative ways to visualize, too.
TimelineJS uses a google spreadsheet with links to YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Sound Cloud, and other media sources to create really nice-looking timelines. You could use this tool to create an interactive visualization of the starting of your company, your client's company, tell the story of an industry, etc.
Present.me allows you to create presentations where you record yourself talking next to the slides you're presenting. This tool might be a good way for people working remotely to share a proposal or concept, or for documenting presentations you've given on your blog or site.
Planning your infographic
So now you've got a bunch of tools you can play with, but before you go too crazy adding bubble charts and radial bar graphs, take some time to really plan out your infographic and what you want people to take away from it. Here are some tips on researching and planning a great visualization:
1. Learn from others
If you're not sure what type of info graphic to create, these sites can be great places to see what other people are doing:
- Visual.ly has a ton of great infographics to inspire you or your designers.
- Informationisbeautiful.net has a ton of great data visualizations.
- Datavisualization.ch has a variety of interactive data visualizations and information graphics.
2. Understand graph options and themes
It can also be helpful to think about the different types of visualizations that exist and the purpose they serve. Many Eyes by IBM Research made a really great list of graphing types and when to use them (i.e. when to use a stack graph vs bar chart vs scatterplot). Visual-literacy.org also made a really awesome Periodic Table of Visualizations that shows examples of every kind of graph type you can imagine.
There are also a few themes you can identify in the world of infographics; I've listed some of them below. Consider where yours might fit in.
Humor and social commentary: Make an observation about humanity, wine, beards, etc.
Communicate relationships: Show density, proportion, and differences.
Decision flow chart: Clarify options and paths.
Timeline: Show a sequence of events.
3. Plan your visualization
When you're beginning to brainstorm and develope your visualization, here are a few steps you can take:
- Identify the take-away. What do you want your audience to learn from this visualization? Is there an action you want them to take? Is there a way you want them to feel (e.g. amused, surprised, like they understand an issue better)?
- Brainstorm a "script" or flow for your infographic. Sit down with a notebook (or, better yet, with a whiteboard) and a few creative people, and list as many options for conveying your story as you can in thirty minutes or an hour. Don't get too attached to any one concept; just get a bunch out there to start. Consider the types of data available to you and how you could represent it (timeline, flow chart, relationship/proportion graphs, etc.).
- See what other people are doing (there are some sites for inspiration listed above). Add any ideas you get for layout and graphic representation to your list of ideas.
- Choose one idea and wireframe it (again, there are a couple tools listed above). Run the concept by a few people. Ask them if any of it is confusing, or if there's something else related to what you've planned that they're curious about that you could consider adding.
- Create the graphic using one of the tools listed above, or hire someone to help you out. Here are some options for hiring contract infographics designers that we love: Freelancer, 99 designs, Designcrowd, Upwork, Nowsourcing, Columnfive, Infog8, and Mikewirthart.
- Promote it! Justin Briggs wrote a nice article a while back about strategies for promoting infographics.
Good luck, visualizers! If you have any other suggestions for great ways to communicate visually on the web or IRL, please feel free to share!
- 1) Know Your Story. First, find a narrative. ...
- 2) Gather Clean Data. ...
- 3) Write a Good Headline. ...
- 4) Type of Infographic. ...
- 5) Choose the Aesthetic. ...
- 6) Pick the Right Charts. ...
- 7) Focus on Important Data. ...
- 8) Keep it Simple.
Some really good data visualization tools are Google Charts, Tableau, Grafana, Chartist, FusionCharts, Datawrapper, Infogram, and ChartBlocks etc.What are visualization tools? ›
Data visualization tools are software applications that render information in a visual format such as a graph, chart, or heat map for data analysis purposes. Such tools make it easier to understand and work with massive amounts of data.What is an infographic tool? ›
They are effective tools for presenting data in a visually engaging way. They often consist of charts, images, videos, and text.Which is an example of infographics? ›
An infographic example is a visual representation of information. Infographics examples include a variety of elements, such as images, icons, text, charts, and diagrams to convey messages at a glance.How do you create an infographic in PowerPoint? ›
- Start a new presentation. ...
- Change slide to portrait mode. ...
- Choose a background. ...
- Add title and subheading text. ...
- Open "SmartArt" and choose your visual elements. ...
- Add informative text. ...
- Add images. ...
- Save your infographic.
Excel is first and foremost a spreadsheet tool. And while it does have some data visualization capabilities, they are very limited compared to modern data visualization software, like Sigma.What is a common tool that is used to support visualization? ›
The best data visualization tools include Google Charts, Tableau, Grafana, Chartist. js, FusionCharts, Datawrapper, Infogram, ChartBlocks, and D3. js. The best tools offer a variety of visualization styles, are easy to use, and can handle large data sets.What is data visualization write any five visualization tools? ›
Data visualization is the graphical representation of information and data. By using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps, data visualization tools provide an accessible way to see and understand trends, outliers, and patterns in data.
PowerPoint is a fantastic tool for those wishing to display data in a visual format for a presentation. When creating an individual slide, you can include a variety of data visualization techniques such as graphs, pie charts, data tables, and infographics.Which is not a visualization tool? ›
The answer is Eclipse. Eclipse is a java script tool which used to change the environment of the document but not used for data visualization. The remaining options are data visualization tools. However, excel and Tableau are widely used data visualization tools.What is the best free software to make infographics? ›
What is the best free infographic maker? Some of the best infographic maker software are Visme, Adobe Spark, Canva, Venngage, Snappa, Piktochart and Easel.ly.How do you make a beautiful infographic? ›
- Step 1: Set a Goal and Choose an Infographic Type.
- Step 2: Plan and Create the Content.
- Step 3: Organize and Visualize Your Data.
- Step 4: Choose a Template to Start With.
- Step 5: Add Engaging Design Elements.
- Bonus: Tips to Improve Your Infographic Design.
A freelancer infographic designer does not require a college degree. They can learn using online tutorials and still produce captivating infographics. However, a basic graphic design course will do you a lot of good. It introduces one to principles of design like color, space, balance, alignment, among others.What are the 7 common types of infographics? ›
There are 7 types of infographics based on their uses. Naming timeline infographics, data visualizations, anatomy, processes and how-to's, comparisons, lists, and maps. Knowing what type of infographic to incorporate in your content is the key to successful and effective content marketing.What are the 8 types of infographics? ›
- List infographics.
- Statistical infographics.
- How-to infographics.
- Timeline infographics.
- Comparison infographics.
- Map and location infographics.
- Flowchart infographics.
- Process description infographics.
- Statistical. One of the most popular infographic templates is one based on data and numbers. ...
- Informational. This type of infographic is equally as popular however, instead of using numbers, it implements text-based information. ...
Effective infographics are composed of few different attributes. They're well designed, they tell a good story, and also they are easy to understand. They give you a visual aspect of content in a manner that is easy and snackable.What elements are used in the infographic? ›
- Descriptive Title and Subheads. ...
- Informative Statistics. ...
- Bold, Thematically Appropriate Color Scheme. ...
- Eye-Catching Graphics. ...
- Clearly Organized, Sequential Story. ...
- Specially Formatted Facts.
Visme has thousands of templates you can use to create infographics, presentations and other types of visual content.What size is an infographic? ›
Here are some of the common infographic sizes: Width of an ideal infographic must not be more than 600 pixels and the length should not exceed 1800 pixels. This will fit most websites and blogs. Almost all vertical Infographics are between 600-1100 pixels wide, shorter infographic height goes up to about 2000 pixels.Is Tableau a data visualization tool? ›
Tableau is a leading data visualization tool used for data analysis and business intelligence. Gartner's Magic Quadrant classified Tableau as a leader for analytics and business intelligence.What is tableau in Excel? ›
Tableau allows Excel users to keep their spreadsheets while greatly enhancing their ability to analyze their data, all while delivering simple to build, simple to read visualizations that convey information clearly.Can you create charts in Excel? ›
You can create a chart for your data in Excel for the web. Depending on the data you have, you can create a column, line, pie, bar, area, scatter, or radar chart. Click anywhere in the data for which you want to create a chart. To plot specific data into a chart, you can also select the data.What is the easiest data visualization tool to use? ›
Google Chart is a powerful, easy to use and an interactive data visualization tool for browsers and mobile devices. It has a rich gallery of charts and allows you to customize as per your needs.How do I choose data visualization tools? ›
- Differentiate between presentation and exploratory graphics. ...
- The form of your data visualization should follow its function. ...
- Draw your desired visualization before choosing a tool. ...
- Tailor your tool choices for your audience.
An SQL dashboard tool is a standalone BI tool (or function within a larger BI platform) that takes you through the workflow of querying, exploring, and visualizing data. The dashboard is the end result, hosting dynamic, interactive charts and graphs that help you understand and communicate trends and insights.What are the 10 types of chart? ›
- Bar chart.
- Line graph.
- Area graph.
- Scatter plot.
- Pie chart.
- Column chart.
- Bubble chart.
Microsoft Excel is the most common tool used for manipulating spreadsheets and building analyses. With decades of development behind it, Excel can support almost any standard analytics workflow and is extendable through its native programming language, Visual Basic.
Not only for its speed, scalability, but also for offering the best tools to create visual answers to most of your business questions, from bar charts to more complex visualization, including rich maps with tons of customizations. And best of all, Tableau is free to use for the Tableau Public version!What are the types of data visualization? ›
There are many types of data visualization. The most common are scatter plots, line graphs, pie charts, bar charts, heat maps, area charts, choropleth maps and histograms.What are the different techniques of data visualization? ›
A: The various types of visualization include Column Chart, Line Graph, Bar Graph, Stacked Bar Graph, Dual-Axis Chart, Pie Chart, Mekko Chart, Bubble Chart, Scatter Chart, and Bullet Graph.What is data visualization PDF? ›
It is a process of converting data and numbers into visual form. Data visualization techniques use different effects of computer graphics. It helps the stake holders to make an effective and fast decision making.What are the 5 steps in data visualization? ›
- Develop your research question.
- Get or create your data.
- Clean your data.
- Choose a chart type.
- Choose your tool.
- Prepare data.
- Create chart.
Noah Iliinsky discusses the four pillars of effective visualization design, including purpose, content, structure, format, and design types to avoid.What is visualization technique? ›
Visualization is a technique that allows you to set the parameters to make your future vision a reality. In creative visualization, you direct your brain to focus on what matters the most to you. And to engage in a process called selective attention.Which of the following is a powerful visualization technique? ›
The answer is tree map. Tree map is a powerful visualization technique for illustrating hierarchical data and part-to-whole relationships.What is Tablou? ›
Tableau is a visual analytics platform transforming the way we use data to solve problems—empowering people and organizations to make the most of their data. See How Tableau Works.How do you visualize data without coding? ›
- 8 Free Tools to Make Interactive Data Visualizations in 2021 — No Coding Required. You don't need to write any code to easily create interactive data visualization. ...
- Flourish. ...
- DataWrapper. ...
- Chartblocks. ...
- Infogram. ...
- Chart Studio. ...
- Knight Lab. ...
- Tableau Public.
Step 1: In the Design Tab, adjust the Slide Size to best fit your infographic. Step 2: Select SmartArt from the PowerPoint navigation bar. Step 3: Find a graphic that fits your data from the Process or Picture menu. Step 4: Add or remove data points, time stamps, or other key information.What is the best free software to make infographics? ›
What is the best free infographic maker? Some of the best infographic maker software are Visme, Adobe Spark, Canva, Venngage, Snappa, Piktochart and Easel.ly.What are the ways that infographics can be used? ›
- Generating media coverage (both print and online)
- Increase brand awareness.
- Simplify complicated content.
- Present data/survey.
- Explain clearly how something works.
- To drive traffic to your website.
- Compliment long copy/blog posts.
Visme has thousands of templates you can use to create infographics, presentations and other types of visual content.What are the three main parts of an infographic? ›
The three parts of all infographics are the visual, the content, and the knowledge. The visual consists of colors and graphics. There are two different types of graphics – theme, and reference. These graphics are included in all infographics and represent the underlying visual representation of the data.What is the size of infographics? ›
The dimension for a full-width scrolling infographic is usually at least 1920px wide with no a height limit. 1920px is a standard size for computer screens.What makes a good infographic design? ›
Effective infographics are composed of few different attributes. They're well designed, they tell a good story, and also they are easy to understand. They give you a visual aspect of content in a manner that is easy and snackable.Which is better canva or Piktochart? ›
Canva is great for people who want to share graphics on social media. Piktochart focuses more on business communication and education. Build a professional presentation, impress with a progress report, or reduce information overload with a beautiful infographic.Is Canva program free? ›
Can I use Canva for free? Canva is always free for every individual and team. However, if you want to unlock premium features, individuals can upgrade to Canva Pro to easily create professional designs and content.Which is an example of infographics? ›
An infographic example is a visual representation of information. Infographics examples include a variety of elements, such as images, icons, text, charts, and diagrams to convey messages at a glance.
- Use Infographics to Spice Up Landing Pages. ...
- Launch Them as Newsletters. ...
- Repurpose Them into Slideshows. ...
- Offer Them in Your Online Course. ...
- Share Snippets of Your Infographic on Instagram. ...
- Create Roundup Infographics.