Can You Guess What Contributes to Data Stories Success?

What makes a data story great?

In this blog post, I would like to point your attention to the the subtle art of Data Story Telling using Visualisations.

By doing so, I decided to take a Boomberg article and walk you through how such data story can be improved.

The original Makeover Monday Data Source to be found here.

First things first: What is such article about and how does it present itself

Bloomberg visualisation — temperature change over time

When you click on the link to the article, you will first see the title. It starts with a captivating title. So, so far so good. The article aims at showing which factor(s) really contributed to temperature increases and how this developed over time.

Then you see a dense sub-title. How text presents itself is also important for visualisations! Thus, first recommendation: make it leaner, highlight key words and be concise.

What’s next then? The “observed” land-ocean temperature line starts moving and going up very quickly… This is too fast and pretty confusing for the reader.

If you plot a change-over-time variable, think about your objective: do you want to show all the small changes or just some salient points?

A better visualisation for such data story could be for example as follows:

You can click here for the Tableau Data Story

So, why is this visualisation better?

  1. Colours

Colours play an important role in the art of data story-telling because they naturally help in stressing the message and better get readers’ attention.

In this example, blue (a cold colour) is associated with temperature below 0°F while red represents higher ones. This gives a first impression of the changes and points the reader to the alarming situation that ocean-land temperatures have been steadily increasing for the past 40 years!

2. It has explaining Annotations

Annotations help to contextualise the visualisations and give clues to the reader about the salient points. Also, combining text with a visual makes the story stronger and reinforces the message.

3. It’s a Flow

As you can see from this Tableau story, Tableau gives you the possibility to guide your audience through the data story by breaking down the visualisation in pieces. Putting the whole Change-over time story at once is more likely to make the reader miss specific changes such as which year is the tipping point and what is the maximum temperature reached.

4. It’s Interactive

Last but not least, the visualisation in Tableau enables the reader to interact with the dashboard and explore the land-ocean temperature changes over time!

By hoovering on the line with the cursor, it is possible for all data points to see the year and the corresponding temperature increase / decrease.

All in all, vital to success for data visualisations and data story is to break the story in points, help the reader focus on key moments and make it visually appealing with the use of colours!

Thanks for your attention & happy effective data story telling :)