Data visualization, Insightrix infographics, Insightrix Research

Data visualization vs. data representation

What’s the difference?

The terms data visualization and data representation can be easy to confuse.

They sound pretty similar, and at first glance, one may find it’s tricky to keep the two straight. And since data is ubiquitous these days, we are seeing more examples of both almost everywhere from our watches and fitness bands to the apps on our phones and dashboards on our computers. 

Both have been employed in insights research and reporting for some time and they both fulfill specific functions. They both sound pretty similar, too, and they do similar things – it’s no wonder how it can be hard keeping data visualization and data representation straight.

So, we’ve created a new downloadable infographic to explain the differences between the two and how they are used.

We’ve been using it around our offices to help our researchers and data professionals explain the styles of data representation or data visualizations we might utilize in our reports. We’ve also been employing it to work with research professionals who are new to the field to help them also become acquainted with the uses and development of both – and now it’s available for you to download for your own use!

Scroll to the bottom of this article to download the infographic right away, or read on to learn more about the differences between data visualization and data representation for market research.

Data visualization crunches numbers

Putting it simply, data visualization is the process of taking information and representing it graphically. Common in insights and market research reporting, data visualization makes it easier to communicate the story in the data.

When one is looking at a complex, large and perhaps varied data set, data visualization can be a great choice to impart that data story in a way that can be quickly and easily understood.

Data visualizations are developed programmatically; that means they are built through the use of software. Think Google Maps or complex GIS systems – they crunch large data sets through sometimes sophisticated algorithms to find trends and correlations in the data, producing interactive representations that allow one to communicate or understand data more easily.

Common examples of data visualizations include heat maps, streamgraphs and word clouds.

Download your own copy of our infographic, The Difference Between Data Visualization and Data Representation for Market Research, by filling out the form below to see more data visualization examples and how they are used.

Data representations support data reporting

Sometimes referred to as infographics, data representations can support almost any kind of data reporting. They allow one to drill down to and communicate the most important parts of a data story graphically.

Data representation, infographics, InsightrixData representations, unlike data visualizations, are human generated. Design software is employed to build them (like Adobe Creative Suite, Canva or Piktochart), but they require a professional to take an editorial role in deciding which data to include to tell the data story best.

Infographics communicate information creatively and stylistically to engage and create memorable experiences. This makes data representation ideal for executive summaries or to highlight key data points that may not be as well communicated in a data table or chart.

Some ways data representations are used are in timelines, hierarchical representations, flow charts and comparisons.

infographics, data representation, Insightrix






Want to know about data visualization? Listen to Ep. 14 of Stories of Market Research: The Insightrix Podcast – it’s all about how to use them, best practices on how to build them and more.

Always know which to use and when

Insightrix infographics, Insightrix Research, Stories of Market ResearchWe’ve developed an infographic that will help you remember the differences and uses of both data visualizations and representations.

This rich and engaging chart offers insights into how both visualizations are representations are used and why, as well as the most common forms of both. You can hold onto it to refer to later, or share it to help teach others about infographics and visualizations. Go ahead – put it on your wall and never be unsure which chart or graphic to use to tell your next data story!

Fill out the form below to access your own copy of The Difference Between Data Representation and Data Visualization for Market Research infographic.

Insightrix infographics, Insightrix Research, Stories of Market Research


Want to access the entire infographic? Fill out the form below to receive an email to download your own PDF copy.