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Data Driven Summit – 8 Tips to Big Data Visualization and UX Design [Video]


Big Data may be the driving force for a lot of business decisions these days, but unless the data is properly presented, the context and insight derived from that data will be lost. That was the theme of many of our presentations and discussions during Data Driven Summit 2014 – Actuate’s annual series of customer events.

It’s that need to make context out of Big Data that inspired Director of Technical Marketing, Mark Gamble (@heygamble) to present eight tips for creating more effective data visualizations. While giving some historical context, Gamble showed how Big Data visualizations created with BIRT Designer create the most compelling user experiences.


His talk, entitled “Every Picture Tells A Story Don’t It?” invoked best practices from visualization design luminaries such as Edward Tufte (@EdwardTufte) and his “5 Grand Principles Of Data Visualization” as well as Stephen Few and his “7 Core Design Principles For Displaying Quantitative Information.”


But being a BIRT expert himself, Gamble added his own take on optimizing user experiences within the Big Data visualization realm.

“Data Visualizations are typically employed for quantitative summarization, such as infographics or dashboards. While Big Data presents unique challenges for visualization, the fundamentals of good information design apply,” Gamble said during the talk.

Gamble then showed eight great recommendations on how to choose the appropriate visual for specific types of information. He also showed how he uses the BIRT Designer for building these data driven reports and dashboards. The recommendations are:

  • Tracking values over time is best displayed as either line charts or area charts
  • Comparisons across categories are best visualized as column or bar charts
  • Comparing percentage values against a whole lends itself towards pie charts or donut charts
  • Displaying current values for regions, states, countries and/or terrains can use color-coded maps
  • Animated visuals increase value and interest among users
  • Pivot the X-axis to vertical alignment if category values are too long
  • Show bars sorted by value only when you want to convey ranking
  • On a line chart, show data point markers only if you need to convey specific values


Here’s the video of Gamble’s presentation at the Data Driven Summit in Santa Clara, Calif.


We’ll be posting more of the Data Driven Summit 2014 video series here, including the other demonstrations, BIRT data visualization insights and panel discussions with industry insiders.


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