Recently, Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic, industry thought leader and author of the Amazon bestseller “Storytelling with Data,” sat down with iCharts to share her thoughts on visual analytics best practices.

We shared a number of highlights from this interview in our latest series of blog posts. If you haven’t yet had time to dive into the full series, here are some notable quotes from Knaflic.

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Why data visualization is so important to businesses today

Businesses are increasingly data-driven. They have more and more data and they want to use it. Being able to visualize data is a way to make it accessible, make it understandable, and make it actionable.

At any given organization, you probably only have a subset that feels comfortable and is skilled at actually digging through the data and using it to find insight. But that doesn’t mean the rest of your organization can’t use the data and use the insights. Making the information visual is one way to make it accessible to a broader audience and help impart understanding and drive action where it makes sense.

How to get the maximum impact from data

Think about where you want to drive action, and how can you use data to convince people of that. One way to help make data understandable and relatable is to visualize it. By visualizing data and helping people see it and understand it, we can help incite understanding, incite action, and really drive change.

Key elements of an effective data visualization

Designing effective data visualizations comes down to a lot of thinking about and paying attention to detail—making sure elements are aligned, that there are clear horizontal and vertical lines, and that you’re leveraging white space and not overly cluttering your visuals and making them harder than they need to be for your audience to digest.

It’s about using color sparingly and strategically, rather than trying to make a colorful rainbow with your visualizations. It’s really about trying to direct your audience’s eyes to where you want them to go.

How to improve your data visualization skills

Becoming adept at visualization does take practice. Like any skill, it’s about doing it over and over again and refining as you go and learning from other people out there who are doing it. Take some data and play with it and look at it in different ways. Put it into different types of graphs and see what it looks like with this color and that color. You can develop a personal data visualization style along the way…you just want to make sure that you’re using your creative license to make the information easier for your audience to get at, not more difficult.

To learn more about the business benefits of visual analytics and data visualizations, we invite you to check out the iCharts resource center—there, you’ll find information on visual analytics best practices, as well as a link to an on-demand demo of the iCharts visual analytics solution for NetSuite.