Data visualisation process

By Gita Mendis, Creative Director

At ZPB we are great believers in good design and data, and we understand how visualising data adds impact to your work. Here are some great data visualisations that are beautiful but also tell a story:

Data vis inspiration


Diversity in Tech, from Information is Beautiful,

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 13.57.32

Hospital stays that should not have happened by region. By ZPB and DTC, from the Hospital Guide,

Data visualisation training

We have recently been working closely with the Care Quality Commission to help their analysts use data visualisation to add impact to their reports, which are aimed at inspectors; providers of care; national stakeholders and the public. Like many organisations that use data, visualising data wasn’t always built into their processes, so we developed a workbook and ran a series of workshops to help analysts understand what it takes and consider how they can build it into their day-to-day work.

Data visualisation process

The process we follow builds in thinking time to be clear about the story you are trying to tell. It also allows for a number of iterations to get the very best result.

1. What’s the ‘exam question’ and are you answering it? By this we mean what was the original purpose of the data analysis? Do you have the answer?

2. Gather all the data you need and digest it.

3. Find the story. Think about how you would explain it to someone outside your organisation

4. Sense check. Do you need to convene a group to discuss your findings? Would it be useful to get someone external involved for an additional perspective?

5. Brainstorm concepts. Which kind of chart would be most effective? What information can you strip out to simplify it?

6. Settle on the best way to easily tell the story with a visualisation. You might be using a designer at this stage or doing it yourself with specialist software or Powerpoint or Excel.

7. Review. Does it do the job? Can you improve it? Some may want to check it makes sense with a colleague.

8. If yes, you’re there!

Some of our other recent data visualisations ZPB has produced include the OPSN mental health project – which included an interactive info graphic to help users understand risk of early death for those suffering from mental health conditions by postcode; and info graphics of patient experience data for Healthcare at Home. Both of which used data visualisation to add impact to the stories revealed by data analysis.

If you would like more information about how to best present your data, get in touch with us at