The last few years have brought data visualization deeply into the world of design. It used to take highly technical designers or a team of developers and designers to create data visualizations that were both accurate and beautiful. Recently, several web-based data visualization tools have come out (thanks to D3.js) that lower that barrier to entry so that designers don’t need as many technical skills to be able to build their own beautiful data visualizations. Here are five of those tools, what they do, and how you should use them:
Out of all of these tools, Datavisual is tailored most directly at solving the problems of information designers. It just left private beta and is open to the public now. Datavisual’s main features keep designers from having to perform repetitive formatting tasks, and gives them output formats that are easy to edit in other applications. Use Datavisual if you need to coordinate the aesthetics of a large quantity of charts.
The approach taken by DensityDesign is also great for designers. It spawned out of an internal need for a tool to create more complex data visualizations in formats that are good for further editing in design tools. RAW leverages code written by members of the community to further expand its capabilities. Currently, it supports an impressive variety of complex visualization types, covering everything from voronoi tessellations to hexagonally binned heatmaps. Use RAW if you need a complex visualization that is ordinarily difficult to create.
Kickstarter is becoming a popular place to launch a lot of things, including infographic creation tools. Since their campaign closed, Infoactive has built a great tool for building cheap custom interactive infographics that look decently designed. Use Infoactive if you don’t want to use design software or hire a professional designer to create an infographic.
Column Five Media isn’t to be left out of the game either. Visage is their answer to creating chart-heavy visual reports and infographics. The data visualization tool is currently in a enterprise-level beta with a public version coming soon. Use Visage if you’re a large brand that needs to create volumes of branded visual reports and infographics.
Interactivity is something to be valued, and Plotly knows this as well as anyone. Their tool gives you great design flexibility, all while providing interactivity for each chart. Use Plotly if you need embeddable interactive charts that match a style or branding.