Data provides us with more of a backstory than we usually realise. It takes a data scientist to process all the information & make sense of it. Data storytelling is the most effective way to share business information and drive outcomes. With humongous volumes of data being generated every minute, the importance of data storytelling has become high. The insight gained from big data analysis needs to be communicated to people who aren’t familiar with data in a way that they will understand. Storytelling with data can help you do so much more than simply draw 1-2 conclusions!
What is Data Storytelling and Why is it Important?
Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: data, visuals, and narrative. As a data analyst/data scientist, one of your key skills would involve creating a story out of the findings that would allow regular business people to understand complex insights. It is important to understand how data, visuals & narrative come together to create a story. It starts with giving ample context about the problem that an analyst is trying to solve, and creating visualisations that may have remained hidden!
Why storytelling with data is important – because it helps communicate insights for us in a way that any person would understand – even someone who is not familiar with data. You can see in the illustration below, that data with narrative & visuals together enlighten people. Storytelling with data can help bring about the change data is suggesting.
Simple Steps Involved in the Storytelling Process
Storytelling with data is straightforward, strategic, elegant, and simple. The outcome doesn’t need to be very flashy, and the process should not be time-consuming. The genius is in the ability to communicate rich ideas as stories in the simplest terms. To achieve this, we have broken down the process into simple steps.
- Understand the context – reinstate the problem statement, mention the methodology while showcasing results
- Choose an effective visual – Bar & Pie charts have very different uses. Understand the right visual for your data
- Eliminate clutter – There might be a lot of insights that you may have generated in the data. Make sure you keep only the relevant ones that give you an insight
- Focus attention – Once you eliminate the clutter, focus attention on the right metrics and try to see them from different perspectives
- Tell a story – Connect the dots, state hypothesis & explain things in detail while telling a story
With these simple tips and techniques, you will be able to tell stories from the data available. A lot of companies over the years have adopted this technique to engage with their users and wow them with information that even they did not know. Let’s have a look at them.
Data Storytelling Examples
The importance of data capture has been realised not just by data analysts & data scientists, but by many companies engaging with their users. A lot of them have been using simple data in the most creative ways to create beautiful stories from them. We have curated some amazing snippets of these instances, to showcase how storytelling has progressed.
The illustration above is talking about the fact that a lot of data is being generated every minute. To add intensity to it, some basic numbers of what users do regularly is added to enhance the intensity of this information. Imagine 55k photos being posted on Instagram every minute, now this a number that is huge & relatable. Even people who do not have a sense of data will be able to understand the intensity of the volume of data being generated by 1 platform in a minute.
While the above was a more generic example, what we will see below is a unique way to get people talking & comparing instances with each other. Spotify started a trend of showing every user, the kind of music they would listen to. A personalised illustration like below was sent out to people in their inboxes, which not only wowed Spotify users with brilliant use of data but also got them to talk amongst each other about it.
Wowed Spotify debuted this amazing storytelling format to its users in 2015. At that time, the project was simply a microsite showing top songs and top genres as a way to show how music fans engaged with the platform but today this has become a year-round ‘wrap’ that users wait for!
Just like Spotify, the Indian brand, Disney Hotstar had unique stories to tell us in their 2019 report of ‘What India Watches’. While some things may seem obvious, some other data points just open up eyes about different demographics and even break some norms about hypotheses we may have had. We were surprised to see that 1/3rd of Koffee With Karan viewers were from Mumbai! Check out the Hotstar India Watch Report 2019, and let us know what you were most surprised to see.
We are sure you now understand the importance of data storytelling. From afar, it may seem like an unnecessary activity to do, but without it, your work as a data analyst or a data scientist may not be understood by others. It is fundamental to any data analytics or data science problem solving. While this may not be asked during your data analytics interviews, data storytelling will help you more when you are at the job and doing analysis. And if you are looking to learn more about this and work on real-world data, then joining Springboard’s data analytics career track program may be beneficial. 1:1 mentoring sessions, detailed curriculum, and 2 capstone projects will give you the expertise to tackle any real world data challenges! And did we mention job guarantee? Apply Now!