Data visualizations are used by journalists, academic researchers, corporations and others to make information come to life. When the creator of a data visualization hits just the right notes, the visualization becomes eminently shareable, a piece of content that gains traction on social media and other promotional channels.
This phenomenon makes data visualization an important tool for businesses that dream of their content going viral. But data visualization isn’t quick and easy. To create a visualization that’s truly striking and memorable, the creator must:
That first point above, choosing the right type of visualization, is the most important step. As you consider the best data visualization examples in 2023 and beyond, here’s a gallery of different types of visualizations that have recently captured the imagination and attracted large audiences.
What’s the latest in data visualization? Creators across the internet and around the world have put together powerful visualizations in just the past few months and years that demonstrate just how helpful the medium can be for quickly and clearly sharing information. Here’s a look at the best of the best in data visualization examples from recent years:
What websites get the most traffic worldwide? A bubble chart like this one is perfect for conveying the relative size of different site’s audiences. Also, the creator of this bubble chart included a smaller bar chart within the larger visualization to share the industries that top sites operate within.
Some of the best data visualizations are based on freely available information, just like this one by Alasdair Rae. Using freely available information from the European Union, he created a powerful geospatial visualization of Europe’s population density.
What should be the role of government in everyday people’s lives? The question has been asked for centuries. And, while there’s significant disagreement on how to answer this question, a scatter plot visualization lets anyone explore how different nations approach governance in the modern age.
Since the summer of 1977, movie-goers of all ages have been entranced by the Star Wars saga. From the original trilogy to the more recent Skywalker Saga and newer Disney+ spinoff series, the Star Wars universe includes a plethora of characters ranging from heroic to morally ambiguous to pure evil. Kirell Benzi beautifully captured the interactions of these many characters in The Dark Side and the Light, a visualization that is informational and pleasing to look at.
Scientists and experts from around the world have tried to make sense of the recent COVID-19 pandemic in many different ways, including trying to visually capture how the contagion was able to spread so rapidly and pervasively.
This video from Tectonix GEO provides a heat map that demonstrates the risk of ignoring social distancing. Based on data from Outlogic, this heat map shows how spring breakers in Fort Lauderdale helped spread the virus around the nation.
As our consumption preferences continue to shift from the written word to more varied and interactive media, strong data visualizations have become centerpieces for large, enterprise-style reporting in leading newspapers, magazines, and online publications. This long-form story on African cities includes several stunning data visualizations that help bring journalism to life.
Your data is only useful if you can understand it, and there are many software solutions that are making it easier to connect your spreadsheets, databases, and cloud-based data services to create interactive visualizations and reports.
Microsoft Power BI is one of the most widespread tools where users can create customized dashboards that display real-time data, charts, and graphs, helping them to make informed business decisions. The interactive data visualization below, for example, was created with Power BI to transform complicated information into an easy-to-share image depicting worldwide access to electricity.
While COVID-19 has been top of mind since the beginning of 2020, world history is full of similar pandemics. This infographic takes viewers on a visual journey through the centuries, allowing them to discover the worst pandemics to strike the planet.
In 2021, a cargo ship became stuck in the Suez Canal, stopping traffic through one of the world’s most important passages. How hard can it be to steer a cargo ship through a canal? This interactive visualization from CNN lets audience members try for themselves.
What happens to the homeless when they are given plane or bus tickets out of town? The Guardian explored where individuals end up going, and the piece includes several striking data visualizations. This distribution chart demonstrates how the homeless are often relocated to areas with lower median incomes.
How do Americans spend their time? This animated unit visualization is based on data from the American Time Use Survey, and it conveys in time-elapse fashion what people are generally doing at different times of the day.
Wind holds the power to create energy and to destroy cities. These wind map visualizations share how the wind typically moves around us at any given time. While the data visualizations are meant to provide basic meteorological information, the maps are collectively a beautiful homage to the power of nature.
What’s the best way to stay overnight at national parks in the United States? Let data visualizations make recommendations for you. These radar chart visualizations help viewers better understand how national park visitors traditionally spend the night during certain times of the year.
Wall Street investors are always looking for ways to get an edge on the competition. SmartMoney provides a so-called “map of the market” that allows anyone to track more than 500 stocks at the same time — visually. The tree map visualization is simple: green indicates a stock going up, and red indicates a stock going down.
Alluvial chart visualizations are helpful when exploring how proportions change over time. For example, this visualization of 200 years of immigration to the United States shows how the proportion of immigrants from different parts of the world has changed through the years.
While some experts expect an even worse recession to happen in 2023, we all remember the so-called “Great Recession” of 2008-2009 far too vividly. It took about 5 years for the economy to regain the 9 million jobs it had lost, but each sector was affected quite uniquely.
The New York Times used this data visualization, including several informative line charts, to demonstrate how that economic crisis reshaped industries and the jobs that are available more than a decade after the Great Recession.
Presentations are the closest most of us get to creating visually pleasing assets on a day-to-day basis. Now, thanks to AI, we can get a lot closer to building presentations that are graphically beautiful, including graphs and charts that engage our intended audience.
As an example, Beautiful.ai is a cloud-based presentation software that uses AI technology to help users create visually stunning and engaging presentations quickly and easily. Below is an example of how it is able to combine design elements such as icons, images, and typography to create professional-looking presentations.
One of the most interesting COVID-19-related data visualizations to come out of the pandemic is this flow chart below, created by Reuters, which shares how viruses move from different bat species to other animals and then to humans.
Where does a raindrop in any portion of the United States finally end up? This fun motion graphic visualization lets you choose the exact place of rainfall, and then it takes you on an adventure to where the raindrop meets its final resting place.
One of the newest developments in AI includes tools like DALL-E2, with the ability to generate surreal and creative images from textual descriptions. Even though it is still a relatively new tool, it has already found practical applications in areas such as interior design, fashion design, and product design.
DALL-E2 combines deep learning techniques, including generative adversarial networks (GANs) and transformers, to create images that match the text descriptions provided to it. For example, if given the prompt “an armchair in the shape of an avocado,” DALL-E can generate an image of an armchair that looks like an avocado, as you can see in the example below.
Heads of government around the world have a profound influence on global events and history. This timeline visualization provides details on who has led the world’s largest and most important nations and on whom world leaders have led alongside.
How many millions of lines of code are included in different codebases? This elegant bar graph conveys the information at a glance. When you’re working with data that reaches into the millions of millions, this type of data visualization helps you break things down into a more easily digestible graphic.
If you are trying to make sense of multiple sources of business data, one visualization alone is probably not going to cut it. To solve that, software like Domo allows users to connect to multiple data sources, transform data, and create custom visualizations to gain insights and make data-driven decisions.
Domo’s visualizations are designed to be highly customizable and interactive, allowing users to quickly and easily explore data and discover insights. In the example below, you can see a dashboard consisting of multiple visualization cards that come together to tell a story.
You likely know that certain foods pair better with certain wines than others. But few people have committed to memory exactly what food-wine pairings work best. This table visualization perfectly captures the best pairings for easy reference when you’re entertaining or otherwise trying to piece together a menu.
Our dietary preferences have changed greatly in the past few decades, including a marked rise in meat consumption and the use of vegetable oils. This donut chart visualization lets you explore different countries during different time periods to see exactly what people were eating.
As you browse through the data visualizations above, you likely wonder about the tools used to create each. Luckily, there are myriad tools in the modern age that can be used to create visualizations like the ones you see above. But the perfect tool for you will depend on what type of visualization you’d like to create.
Choose the right tool and data points, and you’re likely to end up with an effective and interactive data visualization. Choose the wrong tool and data points, and you may end up among the bad data visualization examples. Here’s recommendations on different data visualization tools:
Data visualization is one of the best, most effective ways to build your ideas or research into a powerful image that resonates with a target audience. Visualizations are helpful in academia and in journalism, but they can be just as powerful for startups and other companies that need to get their messages across quickly and clearly.
Are you interested in testing Maptive for your map-based data visualizations? Start a free trial and explore what you could do with data visualization.