Birth of a Particular Visual Presentation of Data

I often get asked the process behind data visualization. Specifically people are curious to know about the tools used. While I’m a big fan of tools, I am a sucker for good old ways of ‘power of thinking’ and ‘power of dreaming’. So, here goes the detailed process behind data visualization.

It starts with a blank sheet of paper, a pencil, an eraser and a calm mind.

Blank sheet, pencil, eraser and a calm mind
Blank sheet, pencil, eraser and a calm mind


Pencil, eraser and paper are easy to find and get; however, a calm mind is very difficult! You can neither buy it nor find it at will. One can only thrive at the right environment and general work culture that enables calm mind. The outcome of a calm mind is the ability to think from first principles and to make fresh cross subject connections.

When it comes to data, this means:

  • To think about the origin of data.
  • Can different data sets be generated from the source?
  • Is this basic data or derived data.

Once that thought is processed, next thought experiment is:

  • Dive into the role of end-user of these data visualization. What information will he die for?
  • Then dream up crazy and fun data twists.
  • Now pick (or condense) only one of the thought that excites you personally.

Once the thought experiment is done, look down at the blank sheet paper and start doodling with the pencil.

No, you will not get it the first time.



Nor the second! Not even the third. Keep trying till you do.


Voila, finally you will get it.

Final Output
Final Output


After this you can pick your favourite tool. We at Report Bee use R, Python, Rails and JS Visualization library.




5 thoughts on “Birth of a Particular Visual Presentation of Data”

  1. Very true!! All the great innovations start from paper-pen’s work + a calm creative mind. I loved the way you have written and the sequential pictures. 🙂

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