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Chapter 1 Choose Tools to Tell Your Story

If you feel overwhelmed by the avalanche of digital tools available today, you’re not alone. When you’re simply trying to do your regular work, keeping up with the latest software developments can feel like an additional part-time job you didn’t sign up for. Digital tools are constantly changing and evolving. That’s good news if you like to experiment and choose among different options, but not-so-good news if you lack the time to make complex decisions.

In this chapter, we’ll help you navigate your way through the decision-making process. We’ll begin with the most important step—sketching out your data story—to help identify the types of tools you need to tell it effectively. Next, we’ll review ten factors to consider when choosing digital tools and the tradeoffs involved. Finally, we’ll present our list of recommended data visualization tools, plus one extra to help you get organized: a password manager. All of these tools are free to use, and the book introduces them gradually, from easy-to-learn beginner tools to more advanced power tools that grant you more control over where your work is hosted and how it looks.