The power of turning text into diagrams - and why we don't use them enough
In today's business world, the ability to turn text into diagrams can be a powerful tool. You can take complex concepts and make them easier to understand, with the added benefit of making the fruits of your hard work more visually appealing and engaging.
This blog article will explore the benefits of turning text into diagrams for better data visualization and provide some tips on how to do it effectively.
Why turn text into data visualizations?
When someone needs to make a presentation, they might choose to start with a list of bullet points. All of us have at some point sat in front of a PowerPoint consisting mostly of text slides and know how easy it is to switch off and miss important information.
So, what is text visualization?
Text visualization is a technique that uses graphs, charts, or word clouds to represent words in a visual manner. Typically, you would use these visualizations when you have too much data to be sensibly present in text.
Presenting this same information graphically makes it easy to understand at a glance - particularly important for making an impression on the distracted executive at the back! The human brain loves visual data and can process images much faster than text.
However, there's a more important benefit to using data visualizations and diagrams: They can help viewers identify valuable, actionable insights hidden in qualitative data and discover trends and patterns.
What are the different types of diagrams, and how are they used?
There are various types of diagrams or data visualization components. Which one to choose will depend on what you trying to describe. For example, if you want to see how events or tasks are sequenced as part of a process, you might use a journey map, Gantt chart, or flowchart, but if you want to communicate how parts of a whole are connected, a circle diagram or tree diagram might be more useful.
Here are some of the more interesting diagram types:
- Mind maps: A mind map is a diagram for capturing thinking. It organizes information into a hierarchy and shows the relationships between the different pieces. In terms of the graphic itself, a diagram typically shows a main topic surrounded by nodes that describe sub-topics or themes.
- Tree diagrams: A tree diagram is composed of nodes and branches, which are ranked hierarchically. You could use a tree diagram to represent tasks and subtasks that need to be completed. It’s also used in the field of probability to calculate possible outcomes.
- Journey maps: A journey map is a visualization that describes the discrete stages of a process at a higher level. In particular, it compiles user actions into a timeline, usually from the perspective of a person’s experience.
- Bubble charts: A bubble chart is used by data scientists to add more visual elements (like color and dot size) to a scatter plot. This type of diagram can depict relationships between numerical variables.
- Pictographs: A pictograph is a graph or chart that uses images or icons to present data. Typically, each picture in a pictogram represents an object.
- HIagram: a hierarchical breakdown of natural language-sourced information, explored through expandable and collapsible nodes.
Case study: Staff transition diagrams
Considering how diagrams and graphs can easily communicate both the macro and micro details of information, it's a surprise many companies don't utilize them more often. Better communication always leads to more efficiency, so being able to see the data can help all team members take better-informed action and identify opportunities for growth.
Many software applications greatly simplify the process of creating a data story. All you need to do is feed the information to the system, and the program will convert it into a diagram.
For example, imagine you are preparing a handover or transition plan to explain to a brand new employee. You capture the teams, roles, projects, activities, and processes involved. All this information can be transformed into a hierarchical diagram (or a hiagram) showing all the components connecting to form a job, which can then be used to facilitate business processes like onboarding employees.
Conclusion: Diagrams turn data into actionable insights
Diagrams are extremely powerful tools when it comes to presenting complex information. Our brains are designed to process data visually, so using images and graphs will always create a more engaging and memorable experience than relying simply on text. The world is drowning in information, so make sure yours stands out by using a format that conveys more in less time!