Much has been said about the increasing role of data in business. While big data will be a valuable commodity in the world of IT, the human side of creating meaning from data will still be challenging. Here are five tools for presenting data for human consumption over the web.
Visual.ly offers more than just a simple charting tool, it is a platform creating a marketplace for infographics. Infographics, and visual data storytelling have become a prevalent communication type on the web, and have become a particularly potent force in the world of digital marketing. Visual.ly offers tools for creating these infographics, but also serves as a platform to connect animators, designers and analysts with businesses that wish to create infographics. Because infographics often require more visual flair and complexity than simple data plotting, this platform allows a marketplace to form around this new communication medium.
Wolfram Alpha is a well known name in the world of data. Though it ostensibly looks like a search engine, it also has some powerful data visualization features. Not only does it offers ways to visualize data, but Wolfram Alpha maintains over 10 trillion pieces of data from primary sources, so if the data to be presented draws on public data, Wolfram Alpha may be a good option. The free version of Alpha allows for use of the computation engine and data, and displays results through a web interface. The company also offers a monthly subscription version which allows for more complex querying, and downloading visualizations locally, among other features.
Better World Flux is a highly specific data visualization tool. It was created by an Australian company called SmartSalary, as a way to visualize important global indicators of progress in society. The tool includes large global data sets for indicators like peace index score, school enrollment, malaria incidences, and many, many others. The metrics are then plotted in a width chart form that can be moved across time, showing a moving visual picture of how the world population has been distributed across your chosen metrics. It is not a tool that allows for plotting of customized business data, but if you happen to wish to make a point about progress in society around one of many metrics, Better World Flux is a great tool. Graphs can be shared over social media or email.