Decide On Your Data Story Format

Most data visualization books and workshops presume that you will deliver your final product on a sheet of paper to people sitting around a board room, or perhaps in a PDF document sent via email or posted online. Those static formats are fine, but do not fully reflect the wide range of ways to share your story with broader audiences in the digital age. Moreover, as we write these words during the Covid-19 pandemic, when sitting around an indoor table is not an option, we need to find more creative formats to communicate our data stories.

Given that our book has emphasized the benefits of creating interactive visualizations, which invites audiences to engage with your data by floating their cursor over the charts and maps, we also encourage you to consider more interactive formats for your stories, such as:

  • Websites that combine textual narrative and interactive visualizations using iframes.
  • Online presentation slides that link to live visualizations
  • Video that combines live or voiceover narration with interactive visualization screencast
  • A data walk format, where community stakeholders move around and discuss connections between their lived experiences and the data stories.

Of course, different storytelling methods require you to tailor content to fit the format. Furthermore, not every format requires interactive visualizations, nor are they always the most appropriate choice. While the details are beyond the scope of this book, we encourage you not to fall into traditional mindsets and to think differently about ways to tell true and meaningful data stories.

Summary

This concluding chapter brought together broad concepts and pragmatic skills from the book to reinforce how data visualization is driven by truthful and meaningful storytelling. While we love to make pictures about numbers, our broader mission is to create narratives that convince our audiences how and why our data interpretations matter. You learned different strategies to achieve this goal, such as building storyboards, drawing attention to meaningful data with text and color, acknowledging sources and uncertainty, and thinking creatively about storytelling formats that fit our audiences.

We hope this book has helped you to better understand how to work with data and how to create better visualizations that tell true and meaningful stories. One of our goals is to introduce readers to the wide array of free and powerful tools available to expand your knowledge and help you to complete your data projects. If you found this book to be helpful, we’d be delighted to see data projects that you wish to share with the authors on social media. Finally, also feel free to share with us other introductory-level tools or methods that we didn’t mention in this book.