What are the 5 Most Common Data Visualization Mistakes?


Just because you can and just because you think your clients will take anything — these are among the most common data visualization mistakes.

As the analysis and visualization of data fast becomes the norm, tools that produce great visuals on demand making sense of that data are easier to use than ever, making it far easier to spot potential problems and capitalize on trends that might otherwise be missed.

But with great tools comes great responsibility. Often, great visuals aren’t always the end product. Human error, tough deadlines, and simply not knowing what makes for a great visual are impediments. As TIBCO lays out in a recent ebook, you can’t always prevent human error or impossible deadlines, but you can bolster your data visualization knowledge by understanding five of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

Error #1: Useless Visualizing

Visualizing data simply because you can or believing that your customers want any and all visualizations they can get is one of the most common mistakes. Don’t assume users will understand what the visualizations you provide have to say, especially if the data is obscure. No matter how pretty you make it look, its value may not be obvious to them.

See also: What’s the roadmap to data visualization success?

Error #2: Incorrect Charts

It’s crucial that you choose the right kind of chart for the data you want to visualize. You cannot assume that everyone in your audience is an expert at statistics. Choosing the wrong type of chart to visualize your data and that data could become useless since the audience will not be able to understand it.

Error #3: Overcomplicating Things

Visualizations that are large and complicated are difficult for your audience to digest. When you’re representing large numbers the differences between them could be lost in the crowd if those differences are measured with the wrong units.

Error #4:  Lack of Accuracy

Data is visualized to make it easy to understand, digest, and utilize. Errors in that data can make your visualizations unpredictable and incomprehensible, and take up large amounts of time and even money to fix.

Error #5: Using the Wrong Tools

To get the right visualizations you need the right tools, and there are a lot to chose from. Some focus on collection as wide a variety of data sources as possible over pretty visuals, while others produce stunning graphs and charts but only let you use a very narrow set of data. Some tools are actually designed for large-scale data visualization at all. Choose the wrong tools and you’ll waste time and money, and potentially lose both your audience and the message you wanted your data visualizations to present.

Learn more about how to avoid these mistakes by checking out TIBCO’s ebook here.

Sue Walsh

About Sue Walsh

Sue Walsh is News Writer for RTInsights, and a freelance writer and social media manager living in New York City. Her specialties include tech, security and e-commerce. You can follow her on Twitter at @girlfridaygeek.

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