Data Visualization: Communicating Effectively With Your Audience

By Payman Taei | Founder, Visme


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Make no mistake: it’s a data-based world, we’re just living in it. According to Forbes, data volumes are absolutely exploding – in the past two years alone, more data was created than in all of the previous years in human history COMBINED.

By as soon as 2020, there will be roughly 1.7 megabytes of new data created for every single person living on Earth every SECOND. This is due largely to the fact that nearly everything you buy is now connected to the Internet – from that great new smart TV to your toaster to your thermostat and everything in between. Everything is connected, creating and sharing data in an effort to make your life easier.

Unfortunately, this has also brought with it a powerful side effect: information overload. Data is everywhere, and people are having a hard time processing it all. According to one study from Texas A&M University, each daily edition of The New York Times now has more information in it than a person living in the 17th century would have processed in their entire LIFETIME.

This is particularly problematic in the world of marketing, where your ongoing success depends on your ability to take data and get it out to the widest possible audience in the most effective way.

These are just a few of the key reasons why data visualization isn’t just an important concept, but one that will become absolutely mission-critical in terms of communicating effectively to your audience moving forward. Data visualization (like using infographics and other storytelling techniques to re-frame your message in an easily digestible, visual way) doesn’t just help you stand out from your competitors and cut to the core of your message, but it also lets you harness the power of visual communication to your advantage.

Data Visualization and Infographics: A Powerful Combination

When it comes to the cross section between data visualization and marketing, it’s important to think of each piece of content you create less as a whole story and more as one small part in the larger, ongoing story that is your brand. Each piece of collateral you put out into the world doesn’t have to paint the complete picture – but it should have unlock yet another piece of a puzzle that people want to learn more about.

Infographics in particular, when constructed properly, check a lot of important boxes in terms of data visualization. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the data you’ve chosen to present to your audience is valuable – otherwise, you wouldn’t bother broadcasting it in the first place. But people aren’t going to take your word for it – they need more.

Thanks to the deep level of control over the visual design, the color selection, the layout, the font size and color and more, infographics instantly take ideas that are already valuable and present them in a much more appealing package.

They’re attention grabbing, too – according to a study conducted by Venngage, a stunning 41.5% of marketers said that original graphics such as infographics performed better than ANY other form of visual content.

They’re also responsible for significant benefits:

  • Infographics can take a complicated idea and make it easier to understand. This not only goes a long way towards decreasing the amount of boredom readers feel, but it also awakens the reader’s interest in the topic at the same time.
  • They’re something that people want more of. According to MDG, 67% of consumers who responded to a survey said that clear, detailed images were “very important” when it came to which content they consumed and how they chose to consume it.
  • Infographics are incredibly accessible. You don’t need a college education (or a high reading level, for that matter) to understand an infographic – even if it’s filled with complicated ideas. By taking data and presenting it in a visual way, you’re getting necessary ideas out there into the world in a form that everyone can enjoy.
  • Infographics are very persuasive. Remember that a full 30% of our brains are solely devoted to the task of processing visual data, according to Discover. This means that an argument, an idea or a thesis presented as an infographic will usually be better received than one presented as a wall of text in the form of a blog post.
  • Infographics are also inherently memorable, another core benefit of data visualization. According to a study conducted by Brain Rules, 65% of people are better at remembering a piece of information IF they learned it with a relevant paired image.

When you consider benefits like these, it’s no wonder why the use of infographics has increased an astounding 800% in the last two years alone, according to Unbounce. They don’t just work in terms of data visualization – they work incredibly well.

Never Tell, Always Show – Effective Immediately

Information overload is a very real concern and unfortunately it’s one that is only going to get worse as time goes on. People are being inundated with data from all angles – while that doesn’t make the data any less important, it DOES harm their ability to actually process that data and even pay attention to it in an appreciable way.

To that end, data visualization officially becomes more than just a marketing concept. It’s not just “another technique” that you use to get your message to the masses. It is one of the most important weapons in your arsenal. Data visualization is no longer just a part of marketing – it IS marketing, for now and forever.

 

Talking Usability: There’s No Such Thing as a User-Friendly Password

By David Dick, Fellow

Passwords are required for all types of online activity to authenticate the user.  One thing is certain: until technology provides a better solution to passwords, we must learn to create strong passwords and remember them in order to safeguard our personal data from hackers.

There are ways to circumvent the effort to remember passwords by checking the box labeled “Remember Me.”  “Remember Me” works well for mobile devices because the keys on the keyboard are often too small to enter a complex password.  Just remember to create a security code in case the mobile phone is stolen to prevent thieves from accessing the data. Come to think of it—many people do not use security codes for their mobile devices because it’s another number to remember.

Although there is an international standard for the definition of product usability (ISO 9241) there is no corresponding standard definition for password usability. In “Users are not the enemy,” Adams and Sasse identify three usability characteristics that users desire of passwords: easy to remember, able to be used across multiple systems, and rarely change.  You will learn why these desired characteristics do not contribute to creating and managing strong passwords.

If you have ever forgotten a password and created a new one, you have seen these four guidelines:

  1. Use at least eight characters; a combination of numbers and letters is best.
  2. Do not use the same password you have used with us previously.
  3. Do not use dictionary words, your name, e-mail address, mobile phone number or other personal information that can be easily obtained.
  4. Do not use the same password for multiple online accounts.

If you are like me—you ignored the guidelines and created an easy to remember password. But do you know why these guidelines are important and why you need to adhere to them?

Use at least eight characters; a combination of numbers and letters is best. Most fields for passwords are not a fixed eight-character length. Nevertheless, we create eight character passwords because they are easier to remember. Unfortunately, the eight-character password is less secure than a password containing 16 or 24 alpha numeric characters with dashes and special characters.  The password “love1234” is less strong, but easy to remember.  A password that uses letters from a phrase such as “I’ll see you at the STC Summit, May 2017” written as “ilL-cu-@-stc-SumiT-05/2017” is not only easy to remember but also a strong password.

Do not use the same password you have used with us previously. If the website was successfully hacked before, there is a strong probability that the hackers will use the same passwords to hack the website again. Thankfully, most websites prevent users from reusing a password when requesting a new password. If you successfully circumvented the validation of the password by adding a number at the end of the password, the next guideline becomes important.

Do not use dictionary words, your name, e-mail address, mobile phone number or other personal information can be easily obtained. One of the methods hackers use to gain access to users’ data is to use a “Dictionary Attack”, which is a technique for defeating a cipher or authentication mechanism by trying to determine its decryption key or passphrase by trying hundreds or sometimes millions of likely possibilities, such as words in a dictionary.  Ironically, many websites allow users to use names, e-mail address, mobile phone numbers, and other personal information for User Names.  If developers implement a method to measure the strength of a password, allow users to select a system-generated password, and define rules to check for dictionary words, e-mail addresses, or phone numbers, then the password is one step closer to being “hacker proof”.

Do not use the same password for multiple online accounts. We are likely to use the same password because we don’t want to burden ourselves with remembering too many passwords.  Hackers attack multiple online accounts reusing user credentials (user name and password) in hopes of getting a match.  If we use the same password for multiple online accounts we help the hackers and put ourselves at risk of having our data stolen.  Even worse, our account could be held for ransom until we pay a fee to release it.

Online retailers make the registration process simple by allowing easy-to-remember passwords and security questions so as not to frustrate users; however, ease of recall comes at a risk.  Strong passwords can slow or often defeat the various attack methods of compromising a computer’s security. Until technology provides a better substitute for passwords, the need for strong passwords is not going away and neither is the pursuit for user-friendly passwords. Maybe an amendment to ISO 9241 is necessary to create a standard definition for password usability.

References

Griffith, Eric. Password Protection: How to Create Strong Passwords, PC Magazine, November 29, 2011

Adams, and M. A. Sasse, “Users are not the enemy,” Communications of the ACM, vol. 42, no. 12 (December 1999), pp 40-46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/322796.322806.